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Business FAQs

Where can I get business license information?
I want some of that free grant money that I am always hearing about, where is it?
How can I finance my start-up business?
How can I get an SBA loan?
How important is my credit score when I am seeking a commercial loan?
Would you answer to the grant questions above the same if I said I was a minority? a woman? a veteran? disabled?
Do I need experience in the business I am considering in order to have a reasonable chance of success?
Who are the most important key advisors for my business?
If there is one item I should focus on to make my odds of success the greatest, what should it be?

Where can I get my business license information?

Some states require all businesses to have a generic business license.  Ohio does not.   The business information kit provided at the Ohio Secretary of State homepage will explain the licenses and permits required for the specific business you want to start.  Visit http://www.sos.state.oh.us/  for more information.

I want some of that free grant money that I am always hearing about, where is it?

This is an urban myth-type question.  While there are thousands of grant programs across the country, most are not targeted toward for-profit businesses. Careful research may reveal small, isolated opportunities in specific markets.  However, as a general rule, grant dollars are not available to help start a small business.  The federal website for grant programs is www.grants.gov, or you may want to ask your local library for a copy of The Grants Guide.

How can I finance my start-up business?

Most businesses are financed out of a combination of owner's equity (owner's investment) and a commercial loan.  If an entrepreneur were seeking a commercial loan, a reasonable expectation would be that the lending bank would expect at least 20-30 percent of the needed dollars would be from the entrepreneur.

How can I get an SBA loan?

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs are designed to encourage commercial lenders to make loans directly to business owners and entrepreneurs.  The SBA does not make direct loans.  Contact your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for assistance.  The SBDCs are staffed with highly trained business advisors who offer FREE counseling to help with your specific business needs. The local list can be found at www.entrepreneurohio.org.

How important is my credit score when I am seeking a commercial loan?

A borrower's credit score is very critical to the approval of a commercial loan.  While there are occasional exceptions, most lenders want a credit score of 650 or better for a commercial loan.  In addition, a recent bankruptcy (last 7 years) is almost always a stumbling block.

Would you answer the grant questions above the same if I said I was a minority? a woman? a veteran? disabled?

Yes.

Do I need experience in the business I am considering in order to have a reasonable chance of success?

Not to dwell on negatives, but there is a high failure rate for start-up businesses.  Your odds of success are much greater if you take on risks that you understand as opposed to risks you do not understand.  If you are going to need a loan to get your business started, most lenders will strongly prefer that you are experienced in the new business.

Who are the most important key advisors for my business?

Key advisors should be knowledgeable about small business issues in general and about your specific type of business in particular.  Over the long haul, you will benefit the most from a good accountant, a good attorney, a good insurance agent, and a good banker.  You should also include the business advisor from your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

If there is one item I should focus on to make my odds of success the greatest, what should it be?

Entrepreneurs and business owners who understand and are dedicated to good planning are usually among the most successful.  Be prepared to dedicate many hours to build the success of your business.  Your business plan should be your guide along the journey to success.

Toll-Free Numbers
  • Ohio Secretary of State (877) 767-3453
  • IRS EIN Information and Registration (866) 816-2065
  • Ohio Department of Taxation (888) 405-4089
  • Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (800) 644-6292
  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (Employment) (877) 644-6562