Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Business Advisor shares tips and answers questions on morning news show

I recently had the opportunity to participate on KHQ's Saturday morning news show, as a contributor answering questions via the KHQ Facebook page.

I really wasn't the anchor...
There was a variety of questions regarding marketing, licensing, business structure, employee hiring and more.  Rather than try and summarize, I copied the thread below.

The most frequently asked question was, 'Do I need a business license'...the answer is YES!  You need a Washington State Master Business License and a city license (or county) depending on where you are located and what you are doing.  Some cities require licenses for any business doing business in that city.  There can also be different regulations for mobile businesses (like ice cream trucks) and home occupation businesses.

Read the Facebook conversation:
Good morning! Tammy Everts, Business Advisor, here with the Spokane Small Business Development Center. We provide no-fee, confidential business advising to Small Business Owners. How can we help you???
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  • 5 people like this.

    • KHQ Local News Good morning Dana, Tough question right off the bat! If it is set up as an LLC, there should be something in the operating agreement. You will probably need to seek legal advice on this one.

    • KHQ Local News You can also make an appointment with our office - we are located on the WSU Riverpoint Campus, phone number is 509.358.7890, website is wsbdc.org.

    • Dana Bellefeuille We are llc.
      Saturday at 7:08am via mobile · 

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Dana - for starters, review your operating agreement. You'll also need to determine a valuation on the worth.

    • KHQ Local News The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) works with small businesses of all shapes and sizes on a variety of issues - buisness plan review, business expansion, marketing, and more.

    • Mel Craven Is there a mailing list I can get on for classes, etc. AND are the classes scheduled at night? We've been in business for two years (three seasons) and this year.....BAM, business is up over 4X over last year and we've become an LLC and now have 3 employees. LOTS going on and NO time for anything but the shop.
      Saturday at 7:29am ·  · 1

    • KHQ Local News Business tip: Clients that work with the SBDC typically see sales increase an average of 4%.

    • Mel Craven I don't need more sales, I need to become a more better business person.

    • Mel Craven My biggest fear now is too much success.
      Saturday at 7:33am ·  · 1

    • Sean McLaughlin Hello. We have an importing and distribution business, and I recently hired an employee. I am trying to find information about the pros and cons of paying per hour or a salary, and I need advice about how many sick days and vacation days to offer. Can you folks help?

    • Mel Craven That didnt come out right, I mean we are so busy that we could look bad when we get behind on our work.

    • KHQ Local News Hi Mel, great question, thanks for asking! There are numerous options - we have classes listed on our website wsbdc.org, we have recently added an excellent series of free webinars that you could watch at your convenience. At this time we do not have a formal mailing or email list to non-clients, but we do send out training notice emails to our clients. We try to offer classes early in the morning, during the lunch hour

    • KHQ Local News continuing above - or in the evenings to accommodate busy schedules.

    • Mel Craven I'll get signed up.

    • KHQ Local News ‎@ Mel - that's a good problem to have but you are wise to know that you need to do something about it. The Spokane Valley Chamber offers an indepth business class called NxLEvel, and we can also work with you to help understand the financial and

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Mel...and business part - especially keeping up wiht your growing pains.

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Sean - another good question. Those are some areas we advise in. Do you have an employee handbook? Here's a link to the SBA Website on employee handbooks.http://www.sba.gov/content/employee-handbooks. You could also look at industry standards as far as vacation and sick leave.

      An employee handbook is the most important communication tool between you and yo...See More
      Saturday at 7:41am ·  · 1

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Sean: You will also want to make sure you are compliant with L&I, especially if you are considering paying a salary to avoid paying overtime. According to the L&I website: An employer is not required to give workers paid holiday, vacation, sick or bereavement leave. That being said, it's a nice benefit and a benefit package may help in hiring and retaining key employees.
      Saturday at 7:54am ·  · 1

    • Ben Myers Where are small retail businesses seeing the best advertising opportunity? (bang for the buck) We own a small retail shop on the North side and need to let folks know we exist. :) FB has helped, but isn't enough.
      Saturday at 8:01am via mobile · 

    • Jeremy Metzler Good morning, does my state business license need to be renewed every year? Next month my business will be one year old. And how do I change from sole proprietor to LLC? Thank you for your time.
      Saturday at 8:02am via mobile · 

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Ben - thanks for the question. The short answer: It depends. It depends a lot on your market and where you're customers are (and also your budget!). Some clients are seeing success with streaming online radio ads. Others use the Inlander or employee referral programs. If you're not already, a great way to find out what's working is to poll or ask your customers how they heard about you when the come in.

    • Mel Craven ‎@ Ben Google Adwords has been a great help for us. About $50/mo.

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Jeremy: Yes, you need to renew your state and city business license annually.
      As far as changing business structure according to the IRS, you will need to get a new EIN, so you'll want to contact the IRS.

      LLC and other business structure can be found on the WA Secretary of State website: http://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/default.aspx. One important thing to consider is to make sure an LLC is the best way to go - changing from an LLC to another entity can be costly.

      An LLC is an entity created by state statute. The IRS did not create a new tax c...See More

    • KHQ Local News Thinking about marketing reminded me of a good example on getting additional customers. One of my colleague's had a client that was a floral shop. She wanted to get some commercial, high-end customers (Dr. offices, dental clinics, attorneys) that wanted regular floral arrangements for their office or to celebrate employee birthdays. The SBDC advisor was able to get some research that was a detailed list of doctors offices and clinics (with contact information, number of employees, etc.). The client contacted them and as a result, gained new commercial clients (regular too) now make up over 50% of her business.

    • KHQ Local News Mel has tried Google Adwords, what other advertising has worked for Spokane small business? The recent Cash Mob in the Garland District looks like it was very creative and a huge success.

    • Heidi McGinnis well would love to start my own consignment clothing store with handmade products and a yarn section and other vendors with little or no capital

    • Heidi McGinnis how do i do that

    • Jennifer Hamlin One thing some of you could do is advertise each others businesses in store fronts and on websites. If your not a competing business you may both gain some new customer. I owned and ran a successful photography company for several years (got sick of it). I advertised for others that were targeting a certain group of people and they did the same for me. We both did better because of it and it was free!!!
      Saturday at 8:54am via mobile ·  · 1

    • Heidi McGinnis i have my product in someone else's store --I am a stay at hoe mom with practically grown children -- I got out of the work force last March due to the layoffs and no stable work in Spokane and started my own little crocheting knitting and tutu business it is just me who does the work -- the need for consignment stores in spokane has skyrocketed and it is a good time to do it -- I just want to be my own business owner -- my sister is my main photographer and she works fulltime -- we would go into business together but she has hesitations -- I dont I want to jump in and do it -- I have free advertising but I want to see more of it jump and become more successful -- does this make sense?

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Heidi: Thanks for the question. One thing that will help you will be to do a business plan to help you line out how much money you'll need, who will buy your products, how much your overhead will be, and where you will sell. For example with your product, you may want to sell to boutiques or specialty shops first, participate in some craft fairs or shows, or set up an ETSY account and start that way. Starting a shop can be extremely costly.

      I'd recommend visiting with a SCORE counselor (call for an appointment 509.353.2821) - they work with a lot of folks like you that are thinking about starting a business but not sure how to start. They are a volunteer organization that also provides free business counseling.

    • Heidi McGinnis Okay I have done the craft shows and continue to do them -- thanks a bunch -- i will contact the

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Heidi - sounds like you've got a good start and are thinking it out wisely. Sharing retail space may be a good option. Keep in mind that those costs add up - credit card fees, tenant improvements, equipment, inventory, etc.

    • KHQ Local News We also got a call in question. The caller has a mobile business and wanted to know about licensing - which brings up an excellent point. If you will be doing business in multiple cities or the county, you need to inquire at each entity to find out if you are required to have a license, in addition to the State Master License.

    • Amy Williams I'm considering selling hand crafted jewelry, what do I need to know about taxes?

    • Jonathan Jones If you already have a business but need more funding, is it better to do a bank loan or a microloan and what are the pros and cons of each? And where do I get more info on microloan?
      Saturday at 9:23am via mobile · 

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Amy: you'll want to make sure you are paying sales tax or if you are not that the vendors that are purchasing your products have a Washington State resellers permit. If you set up as a business, you also may have some B&O taxes.
      The Washington State Department of Revenue has a really helpful website: http://dor.wa.gov/Content/Home/Default.aspx

    • KHQ Local News ‎@Jonathan: The lending market is tough right now. Most lenders require a business plan and three years of financials and history.

      Microloans are a good option for small business owners that don't need a large amount. Locally, SNAP is a microlender and I believe their loans go up to $30,000. The requirements aren't any different for SNAP or a lender - they still look at the Five C's of Credit: Character, Credit, Capital, Collateral, Conditions.http://www.snapwa.org/

      Some clients have had success in working with their banks since they have an established relationship.

    • Denise Bloodworth We're thinking about starting a home based business; do we need a business permit? How much is the permit? Thanks!

    • KHQ Local News Hi Denise - yes you do. You need a State license and a city license. This is IMPORTANT: Check with your city (or county) that your home is in and make sure that a home business is allowed. Most municipalities have a separate set of regulations for Home Occupation Businesses and some types of businesses are NOT allowed in residential neighborhoods. You'll also need a city license, in addition to the state (or county, depending on where your house is). Each city varies on price. The State License is $15, but there could be additional licenses required (and more fees) depending on the type of business.

    • KHQ Local News Thanks to Jennifer for sharing your advertising tactics!

    • KHQ Local News Thanks for all of your comments. Not a lot of time for big discussions here but we hope you'll visit our website for more information. www.wsbdc.org

    • KHQ Local News Over and out - it's been fun! Make it a great day. Tammy

    • Jennifer Hamlin ‎@Jonathan. There are private investors out there that are lending to more "high risk" individuals and businesses. If you have a good plan look for them online (if your not able to get a regular bank loan). The interest rates are high when using private lenders because they are risking their own funds but they are easier to borrow through. I have never personally borrowed privately, but we have been approached about joining some of the lenders so I know they are lending . There is some groups in the Seattle area if your looking online.
      Saturday at 11:01am via mobile ·