FAQ
Frequently-Asked-Questions

Question

Answer

NEED CONFIDENTIAL HELP WITH YOUR SPECIFIC ISSUES?

Find the right couselor 
Find the nearest location

Been in Business for at least a year and want to do better?

Call SCORE Advisors

Don't know where to start?  Need more education?

Check the side column on home page OR Check the Calendar 

Need information on licenses and permits?

Call Houston Business Solutions Center

Do you want to create a successful business?

Check List

Want to explore our resource library on your own?

Resources Kit      Planning Templates        Microloans 

Need a speaker at your event?                 

Speakers Bureau

Want to volunteer at SCORE?                   

Click here

Want to take advantage of minority set asides?

Certification

Want to find a lawyer?
What to find a CPA?   

Lawyer
CPA

Do you know how much insurance you need?
Want to find an insurance agent?

Insurance Needs           
Insurance Agent

Need help with Non Profits?

Go to ESCH

Other frequently Asked Questions 
  • How to select the right business
  • How to write a "winning" business plan
  • How to conduct market research
  • Where to find the money
  • What do the lenders look for?
  • How to register your business 
  • How to figure your insurance needs
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    How to select the right business
    Selecting the right business is critical to its success. You must find a business that you know something about, that you have experience in, that you are trained for, and that you feel passionate about.

    Lack of experience is a major cause of business failure.

    For ideas, Check out www.entrepreneur.com for low cost business and franchise ideas
    Read over 70 business plans online
    Visit our Business Information Center where you can browse through over 500 business plans.

    How to write a "winning" business plan
    In order to start a successful business you need,
    A Dream
    Belief in Yourself
    Hard Work
    A Plan

    Planning is the key to success. Its value lies in the process of researching and thinking about your business in a systematic way … not in producing a finished plan or getting someone else to write it.

    You have to know the answer to questions, such as,
    What useful thing will you do or sell?
    Who will pay you for it?
    Why will they pay you and not someone else?
    Will you make enough to make it worthwhile?

    To answer the last question, you need to know things, such as
    Minimum Owner’s Draw
    Start up costs including working capital
    Monthly fixed costs
    Sales volume and gross margin by month, at least for the first year 

    Click here to access SCORE Templates as guide to developing your plan.  Also consider SCORE Seminars (for beginners) and Workshops (for those already in business or know what business they wish to start).

    How to conduct market research 
    Market Research is a study and investigation into the characteristics, spending habits, location and needs of your business’s target market, the industry as a whole, and the particular competitors you face.

    It is critical to reducing risk, making better decisions, and improving performance. Unfortunately it is often ignored and frequently regretted when the business under-performs or goes bust.

    Objective of market research is to identify:
    Your niche (i.e., Target market & Target buyer; their wants and needs)
    Competitors, their plans, their strengths and their weaknesses (click here for a template)
    Your competitive advantage
    Sales volume, gross margin, start up costs and operating costs 

    Some of the do-it-yourself resources:
    · Demographics info. by zip code from Census Bureau
    · Typical costs and ratios for your business
    · Search the Houston Public Library's Business Reference Library (you need a library card to log on)
    · Universities, banks, Chambers of Commerce, Trade Associations 

    Where to find the money 
    The First Tough Truth: Few people give money to an inexperienced stranger for starting a business. Therefore, the first source of funding comes from you, your family and your friends. This is your equity.

    There are various sources of debt:

    • Your bank (SBA doesn’t lend money. To borrow, go to your own bank and ask them about SBA loan guarantee)
    • Micro loans (up to $50,000) from SBA’s Community Express Program, HBD, Inc., Accion, etc.
    • Equipment vendors financing
    • Credit from suppliers (trade credit)

    What Do The Lenders Look For?

    • 5 C’s of credit.
      1  Character (Credit score) (For a free credit report, click here)
      2  Collateral (Assets offered as security)
      3  Capital (The amount you will invest)
      4  Capacity (Ability to pay the debt – from cash flow forecast)
      5  Conditions (Economic conditions of area and industry)
    • Purpose of the loan
    • Your Experience
    • Your Business Plan

    If you cannot borrow enough money to start your business, consider the following options:
    Add partners who can bring money
    For some businesses (generally high tech), approach Angel Network or Venture Capital Groups.

    How to register your business
    Select legal Organization form and register your name (Click here to understand pros and cons)

    1. Sole Proprietorship
    2. Partnership
    3. Limited Liability Company or Professional Association
    4. Corporation (S – Corp or C -Corp) 

    If you select #1 or 2, you can register you business in Harris County by clicking here.  You can register online or click on branch locations to find a branch near you. Come to our office for information on other counties.

    If you select #3 or 4, click here to find the forms on the Texas Secretary of State website.