by Lori Bennett-Tetrick
Breaking into the field of web design can seem like an altogether formidable task. Lori Bennett-Tetrick, one of our newer Wise-Women members, was up to the challenge and approached it with the enthusiasm of a real pro. She shares with us the steps she took toward starting her own web design business -- the ins and outs of planning, the paper work, the visits to various business organizations, and the determination required to give shape to a bonafide business. To see what a little effort, smart research and a whole lot of enthusiasm can accomplish, read on.
I had been working on an idea that would enhance and/or bring in business for my fledgling web development business. I knew that I would need some assistance in getting it properly off the ground.
After six months of working out the details, I made several phone calls and discovered that the U.S. Small Business Administration Small Business Development Center and the regional Economic Development Company might be able to help. The SBDC provides a wealth of workshops, startup kits and valuable information to help in the initial planning stages of a business.The goal of the regional EDC is to attract new business to the community by assisting with start-up or expansion costs.
The details of what I'd be doing and what I had to offer were critical to presenting my idea, so I made two folders that contained my portfolio, complete with screen shots of the websites, and price lists. Ready to roll, I took one of my folders to the SBDC office and one to the EDC.
The SBDC were very helpful with the details, costs and legalities of starting a business. Some of the issues we covered at length were trademark and intellectual property, and business licensing and zoning. The latter is especially important because I will be doing business from my home, but not inviting clients here. The lawyers at SBDC are currently doing the trademark name searches and looking into specific issues involving my business. For any financial assistance, though, I had to see the people at the Economic Development Company.
At the regional Economic Development Center, it was explained to me that I had to "sell" my business idea to the legal liaison and he, in turn, would "sell" it to the loan committee. So, I "sold" my business idea to the liason. He was impressed not just with the amount of research I had done about starting my own business, but how carefully I'd analyzed the competition. He said that they could loan me up to US $5,000 .
The local liason handed me a twelve-page form which included a profit and loss projection sheet, a return-on-investment worksheet, credit application and release, and worksheets that require detailed information on how the business will be operated and by whom. I had to attach numerous additional sheets because the space available was not sufficient to express my business plan. These I actually read aloud for family and friends to get their input (and find mistakes!), before I finalized them.
In order to procure a loan, I had to list the equipment and inventory I already owned and give details of any collateral I'd be willing to put up to secure the loan. I've put up a ring of mine with a current appraisal, worth $4,500. I didn't want to sell the ring, so this was a decent compromise. Then came the fun part.
I had to make a detailed list of the equipment, software, furniture and general business expenses that I would need to get this venture off the ground. Since I already had a relatively new computer, scanner, and printer, I made up a low-end wish list. This didn't mean low-end items; it was intended only as a list that would meet the business's basic needs -- my true business wish list would require thousands of dollars more to be realized.
I knew that I would need a digital camera, since my advertising uses images of local scenery. I would also need a fax machine with answering capabilities that would also double as a copy machine, in order to save on the expense of a separate photocopier. A universal power supply for the frequent power outages that occur in my region was essential to the list, and I would need a reliable piece of back-up equipment for backing up my business administration and client files. On my list, I also included very basic items like licensing, software, essential educational courses, and books. I am certain that I will be able to build on those later.
The largest cost allocation for me was radio and print advertising, which I believe is necessary for my business to succeed and which can easily run into hundreds of dollars each month. I am planning for an initial press release, which the newspapers are helping me with. I will also be running ads simultaneously in three regional newspapers to give the business a kick-start and some solid, local exposure.
September 13, 2000: I met with the local Economic Development Center this morning -- and I'm happy to say, my loan was approved! This has been such a positive experience for me. So now I can begin advertising and giving my new business the real boost it deserves.
In case anyone is wondering, I would do this process all over again in a minute. There were so many people who helped me along the way, offering very valuable insights and information. When I think about it now, it seems like it was a walk in the park.
Editor's note: Lori was kind enough to share the Business Purchase List she presented to the EDC in order to obtain her funding. It should be a good place to start if you are considering a similar route to obtain funding for your own web design business. -Ed. W.C.
Click here to view Lori's Business Purchase List. (opens in a new window).
Lori Bennett-Tetrick is just starting up a web design business in a small town in Northern California. With years of odd job experience, including heavy equipment operation, landscaping and accounting, she is focusing on her 20-year long love of computers and adapting it to a home-based business in order to spend more time with her two young sons. She's also working toward her A.S. degree in Computer Information at the local community college. Her loves include exploring abandoned mining roads in her four-wheel drive truck and writing politically provocative editorials for the local newspaper.
The permanent link for this page is here: http://www.wise-women.org/members/spotlight/lori_b/