Free Business Resources

I am sharing free business resources that I have used from across the web in one central place.  I started my company with advice and guidance from many gifted friends and mentors that I have met throughout my life.  I have also been lucky enough to fail in a few businesses and learn from my mistakes.  There are a lot of free business resources available if you want to give it a try on your own.  The good news is that we are here to help you if you get stuck.  The basic steps to start up your business are to draw up a business plan, figure out what funding and resources you will need, find the funding.  If you need a physical location, you may also need to research the location and secure a commercial lease.  Be aware of the tax consequences of being a business owner and speak with an accountant if you can.  Also, you will need to form some sort of business entity.  Sole-proprietor is the easiest, but there are also options for LLC, C-Corp, and S-Corp.  You will probably want to speak with a lawyer to see how to set up something more complicated than a sole-proprietor business entity.  Let’s start with the free business resources for the planning phase and then we’ll move on to the launching phase!  Please ask any questions or recommend any resources I may have missed.

Free Business Plan Help

I prefer the SCORE option because you can just download the template and use it as a starting point, but the SBA also has a lot of help for business plans.  The Microsoft template is built as a list of questions to help you define your business plan point by point.  Once you have it completed, give us a call to review it and give you some feedback.

Free Business Website Resources

There are a lot of free business resources for websites.   You can start with something like webs or google pages, but you typically will get much better results from paying someone to do it.  There is a lot to learn about web development and search engine optimization, but if you have more time than money, you may need to do it yourself in the beginning.  Thank you for stating the obvious, but how do I start?  The first thing is to figure out what your company name and website name will be (See What is in a name?).  The first step is to buy your domain name. I use godaddy.com and I know there are others, and they may have better prices, but for new web builders, you want the support.  I give them credit for providing a good level of support for their customers.  You can call or chat and they will help you with most things.  So you pick out a name and go with .com or .biz or what you choose.  Now what?

Deciding what kind of website you want and what you want the website to do can be the hardest part.  Do you want a website where people can buy a product on you site?  I would recommend  Shopify with a 30 day free trial.  You can get a feel for what you will be able to do.  I like the ease of adding products and that there are pre-built themes to try out.  They are affordable and offer merchant account integration.  If you get stuck, you can contact us or one of the Shopify experts.  If your website is more of a business card that just tells about what you do, you might want to try WordPress.com or Weebly.com.  Either way, WordPress is customizeable with themes that make it look like you paid a lot for $25-$60.  Check out Theme Forest for templates that I find attractive and affordable. Then you simply have to download it and import it in the WordPress tools. Get stuck? No problem. Give us a quick call and we’ll install the theme for $10.

 Free Resources for forming your business entity

So here is where it gets tricky.  You can do all the work yourself to form an LLC., S-Corporation, Sole-proprietorship, or C-Corporation, but you are going to have to spend some money depending on where you live to make it a legal operation.  There are fees associated with each type of corporation set up.  The next best thing to free is cheap.  There are some DIY kits available on Legal Zoom.  If you have anything more complicated than a sole-proprietorship, you may want to consult a good corporate attorney.  Be especially careful when setting up with partners!  Everybody is friends in the beginning, but let there be one lawsuit and its every man for himself.

When it comes to contracts, you can find some examples and bits and pieces on the web.