Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Need Some Free Business Advice? Check out SCORE!

My uncle was over the other day and mentioned that he heard one of the owners of Vera Bradley speak.  He was talking about how that company started like many of us did – with a little bit of money and a good product. 

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I was reading about Vera Bradley on their website and noticed they used an organization called SCORE to help get the business up and running.  You can read all about SCORE here, but basically it’s a group of volunteer business experts who give free and confidential business advice to new business owners.  Turns out they even helped Jelly Belly!

I had a meeting with Jim Smith, a counselor at my local SCORE office, last week.  I mostly wanted to learn more about accounting and tax laws and luckily Jim is a CPA.  He gave me such great advice and encouraged me to call or come back anytime.

He gave me a few big recommendations.  First, it would be a good idea for me to set bobaloo! up as an LLC instead of a sole proprietorship.  As an LLC, my company would be a separate entity.  This is pretty important considering I make products for kids and babies.  As I understand it, if (God forbid) something would happen and I was sued, as an LLC only my business assets would be at stake.  I’ll have a bank account in the business name instead of my own, and I will have to file a separate tax return for bobaloo! instead of just adding it on to my personal taxes on a Schedule C.

Second, he encouraged me to get business insurance.  I emailed our insurance agent Paul (who has always been super-helpful with our own insurance) to get a quote so I can get an idea of the cost.  To be honest, I know diddly about business insurance, but I’ll pass on what I learn after I talk to Paul.

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Jim also recommended I keep paper records of everything and file them away.  I don’t currently print out sales invoices or email receipts, so I’ll have to get used to that.  Luckily printer ink is deductible!

I highly recommend checking out your local SCORE office even if you’re planning on keeping your business small.  It was easy and quick, and I learned SO much.  They have 364 offices around the country so there’s bound to be one near you.

I’m going to tackle the LLC first, so I’ll keep you guys updated on my progress.  It looks like I’ll be able to do most (or maybe all) of it online.  If you remember from my attempt to get a sales tax license, Indiana’s government website is kind of a train wreck so we’ll see how it goes.

Where do you go for business advice?  The internet, books, local business owners?  The more resources the better, so let us know your favorite!

Just a note – the advice I received (and my interpretation of it) may not work for you.  Make sure you talk to an accountant or other professional to get the best advice for your situation!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post! I need to check out my local SCORE office in NJ.


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