Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1) I want to start a small business – where do I begin?
This can certainly be a daunting question. First, make an appointment to receive counseling, free of charge, from your local SBDC. Among other talents, our advisors are adept at helping you write a business plan, the "roadmap" for your venture. If you or your business is in New York, click here to find the SBDC nearest you. Assistance from an SBDC is available to anyone interested in beginning a small business for the first time or improving or expanding an existing small business.
2) Does the New York State SBDC offer services to existing businesses?
Yes. The New York State SBDC serves both start-ups and existing businesses -- in fact, a healthy majority of SBDC services are geared specifically towards those challenges faced by existing businesses – management reorganization, expanding into Internet commerce, redesigning a business or marketing plan, financing an expansion, entering international markets and many more. Assistance from an SBDC is available to anyone interested in beginning a small business for the first time or improving or expanding an existing small business.
There exist several fine websites (Grants.gov, GrantsWeb, the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance) on which one can search for available grant monies. Keep in mind, however, that our experience shows that grant money is rarely – if ever – made available to for-profit ventures for purposes of obtaining capital.
Typically, financing for small businesses comes from traditional lenders. The ability to obtain financing will be based on: the strength of the business idea, a complete and comprehensive business plan, collateral, down payment (equity), clean personal credit history and positive financial net worth, management ability and sufficient cash flow to meet expenses and repay the debt.
The SBDC is not a lending institution. However, each SBDC in New York has cultivated a relationship with their local banking community. While that is no guarantee that your loan will be approved, advisement from an SBDC counselor might better position your company to get the funds you need.
Under certain circumstances, the Small Business Administration will guarantee a percentage of business loans for qualified small businesses. Information regarding their loan programs can be found here.
Your first visit should be the NYS Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform's Online Permit Assistance & Licensing. Also, the New York State Division of Licensing Services will be helpful regarding certain types of businesses.
The State of New York has developed the Healthy New York Program. It is a “program designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage to their employees, dependents, and other qualified individuals.” You can also reach this program at 1-866-HEALTHYNY (or 1-866-432-5849).
In addition, several small business organizations feature group health insurance as a benefit of membership.
You should visit the site of the Division of Corporations within the New York Department of State. They’ll have answers to your questions.
8) Where can I obtain a Federal ID number?
Also called a "Federal Tax Number" or "Employer Identification Number," it is granted upon completing IRS Form SS-4. You can obtain this form in Portable Document Format (PDF) at the IRS web site, or by calling 1-800-829-1040.
9) What assistance is available for veterans?
The SBDC operates the Veterans Business Outreach Program to provide targeted training, counseling, and mentoring to help veterans and their businesses. In New York State, contact John Narciso, Regional Coordinator, toll-free at 1-877-875-VETS (8387) or via e-mail.
10) How do I export my product?
The SBDC’s International Business Program exists to help small- and medium-sized businesses in New York State to enter, promote and expand into the global marketplace. Currently focused on China, the program can assist in business partnership, overseas trade opportunities, and/or in exhibiting your product for trade. Contact your local SBDC for more information.
Additionally, the NY Loves Small Business web site lists export-assistance programs around New York State.