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Small Business Basics

Basic tools, documents, and links to help you start and manage your business.

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When you think about starting a business the first question you should ask yourself is this: Should I take on the risk and start this business?

In order to make a good decision, you must identify all risks. Will the return on investment warrant the risks? The process of evaluating risk is simple but time-consuming: You must write a business plan. 

A simple plan will help you develop the financial projections you need in order to make this decision. After doing your homework, if you determine that starting this business is a good idea your business plan will be invaluable. You just have to implement it!

Starting a Business

A business plan is your 'roadmap' to entrepreneurial success. A good business plan defines your business and the product and service that you are providing to meet the needs of your customers. It is a necessary tool in obtaining financing and assists you on starting and running a profitable business.

The SBDC will pair you with an experienced business advisor who will guide you through the "how-tos" of writing your business plan. Your business advisor will give you advice on developing a comprehensive business plan, project cash flow and capital requirements, and will work one-on-one with you to get your business off the ground.

  • Small Business Classroom — Knowledge is the most important asset to small businesses in the 21st century. This SBA resource is a digital strategy for reaching new markets and training small businesses.
  • Starting Courses Directory — This directory from SBA's Online Women's Business Center will guide you through the critical steps necessary to make your dreams come true.
Financing Your Business

The one key to entrepreneurial success for both a start-up and existing business is the ability to obtain and secure appropriate financing. Raising capital is the most basic of all business activities, but as you progress with your business you will discover that it is not an easy task. Being informed and having a plan can ease the tension in seeking capital.

There are four major sources to consider when seeking financing: personal savings (primary source for capital), friends and relatives, banks and non-bank lenders, and venture capital firms. It is very important to plan and explore all of your options before making any decisions.

The SBDC does not have any money to loan but your SBDC Business Advisor will suggest an appropriate source for financing based on your needs. The following is a list of resources to assist you in obtaining the capital to run and operate your business successfully.

  • SBA's Guaranteed Loan Programs - SBA's loan guarantee programs provide a key source of financing for viable small businesses that have real potential, but cannot qualify for loans from traditional sources. SBA guarantees are provided through private lenders and nonprofit lending institutions and give small business owners access to the same kinds of financing available to large businesses. Financing programs provided by the SBA vary according to a borrower's financial need. This site provides more information on SBA's programs.
  • ACCION - ACCION New Mexico is a local non-profit organization dedicated to providing the essential tools needed to start or grow a small business: credit and training. At ACCION, they provide loans as small as $200 and up to $50,000 to people without access to traditional credit sources.
  • The Loan Fund - The New Mexico Community Development Loan Fund is a private, non-profit organization that provides loans, training and technical assistance to business owners and non-profit organizations throughout the state. Their services support the efforts of low-income individuals and their communities to achieve self-reliance and control over their economic destinies.
Marketing a Business

Basic Elements of a Marketing Plan

Each marketing plan contains basic elements that are unique and you should tailor yours to meet your needs. If you need ideas, consider the following:

Market Research
Here are some valuable sites to assist you with your general market research.
Industry Research
It is very important to understand the trends and conditions of your industry. Here are some links to get you started:
Small Business Taxes

Taxes are inevitable; we all have to pay them. It is important to understand the federal taxes you will pay to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and your gross receipts taxes that are due to New Mexico's Taxation & Revenue Department (NMTRD). The SBDC partners with the IRS and NMTRD to offer two workshops that can help ease the tax tension for a small business owner:

Here are some useful sites where you can download the appropriate forms needed to pay your taxes:

Business Law

It doesn't matter what size your business is, there are laws and regulations that you must follow at the local, state, and federal levels. Avoid the temptation to ignore regulatory details. Here is a list of some resources that address your legal and regulatory woes.

  • The SBDC always advises utilizing the services of a legal professional when starting or operating your business. For a referral to a legal professional contact the State of New Mexico's Lawyer Care Referral Program at (505) 797-6066.
  • Business.usa.gov - One-stop shop to help small businesses find, understand, and comply with local, state, and federal laws and regulations that impact their business operations.
  • Choosing A Legal Structure - Sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, LLC; each legal structure offers organizational options which are appropriate for different personal situations and which affect tax and liability issues. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each form.
  • Incorporating Your Business in New Mexico - The Office of the Secretary of State is the entity in which you will file and report your New Mexico Corporation, Limited Liability Company, or Non-Profit Corporation.
  • New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department (RLD) - The RLD is responsible for regulating various industries and professions in the state, this includes Alcohol & Gaming, Construction, Financial Institutions, Securities, and 28 professional boards and commissions.
Patents & Trademarks

What is a patent? (Utility, Design, or Plant) Patents protect inventions and improvements to existing inventions. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States.

What is a Trademark or Servicemark? Trademarks are a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms "trademark" and "mark" are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and servicemarks.

What is a Copyright? Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. In order to ensure copyright protection, the copyright owner should always include notices on all copies of the work.

Resources:

  • US Patent & Trademark Office:  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) administers the patent and trademark laws as they relate to the granting of patents for utility inventions, designs and plants and the issuing of trademark registrations.
  • New Mexico Secretary of State: The Secretary of State is responsible for the registration of trademarks and/or servicemarks at the state level for a term of ten years.
  • Inventor's Digest: Online version of the popular publication Inventor's Digest.

Caution: Federally registered trademarks may conflict with and supersede state registered business and product names. Businesses are encouraged to check for conflicts with federal trademarks.

International Trade

International Business: A division within New Mexico's Economic Development Department provides information pertaining to New Mexico International Trade, major exports, and marketing efforts.

"International trade is not just for big business. New Mexico small businesses offer many products with global market potential. The NMSBDC International Business Accelerator located in Santa Teresa, NM, is a free program for small businesses that want to trade internationally, especially with Mexico. The program offers one-on-one counseling, an online resource guide, an electronic database of trade leads, joint venture opportunities, and tips on exporting & importing. Each SBDC center throughout New Mexico can also guide you through the international maze through direct assistance or referrals to a variety of New Mexico, federal, and out-of-state resources."