Frequently Asked Questions


Q. How do I get a business loan?

A. The kind of financing most entrepreneurs seek through commercial lenders is debt financing. Most banks provide debt financing for existing and start-up businesses. Banks vary substantially in their lending practices. While one bank may decline your loan application, another may be willing to take a higher risk or be interested in lending to small businesses. It is advisable to understand a bank's lending guidelines before applying for a loan. The general guidelines that would enable a lending officer to at least make an informed decision regarding your loan proposal are as follows: consideration of the business idea, usually explained in a business plan, collateral down payment (or equity in an ongoing business), credit history and personal financial net worth, management ability, ability to repay the debt, and conditions of the economy and/or market area.

Q. What are the basic skills you need to run a business?

A. The basic survival skills include a working knowledge of recordkeeping; financial management; personnel management; market analysis; breakeven analysis; product or service knowledge; federal, state and local tax knowledge; legal structures; and communication skills.

Q. What kind of registration and licenses are generally required to start my business?

A. Obviously, there are specific requirements in each state, county and locality, but it is possible to list the kinds of basic licenses and registrations a new business will need: Local----A business license from city, town or county, depending on your location, will usually be necessary. In addition, you'll have to meet zoning laws, building codes, and similar regulations. State----In most states, if your business isn't a corporation and your full name isn't in the name of the business, you'll have to register under what's called the fictitious name law. You should also file for a sales and use tax number. In some lines of business (like liquor stores, barber shops, real estate offices) specific licenses are needed. Federal--You'll need to contact the IRS for an employer's identification number and a "Going Into Business Tax Kit."

Q. Can you help me if my business is set up as a not-for-profit business?

A. Because of the SBDC's funding guidelines, the center is generally not allowed to assist those businesses that are established as not-for-profit.

Q. Do you have to be in business to use the services of the Small Business Development Center?

A. No. You only have to be considering the idea of opening a business or researching the feasibility of a proposed profit making venture.

Q. What does the SBDC do?

A. The Small Business Development Center provides assistance and training to help small business owners and potential owners make sound decisions for the successful operation of their business. Part of a statewide network, the SBDC serves twenty counties and six cities in South-Central Virginia. The SBDC offers individual, one-on-one, confidential counseling and sponsors workshops, conferences and courses at various locations in its service area.

Q. What are your hours of operation?

A. Small Business Development Center's normal hours of operation are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday. However, please feel free to access our homepage and its resource applications 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Q. Do you need a lawyer to start a business?

A. No, but it's wise to get the best advice possible when you're starting out. An attorney is one source of the expertise you'll need to draw on. In some states you need an attorney to form a corporation; however, you do not need an attorney to incorporate in Virginia. We do highly recommend that you consult with an attorney and/or a CPA to ensure the legal entity (S-Corp., C-Corp., LLC, etc.) is the best one for your particular situation. In addition, there may be several side-issues that should be spelled out in a legally binding contract between the owners/stockholders. An attorney would ensure that this documentation is properly prepared.

Q. What form of business do you recommend for a new business?

A. Each form, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, has its advantages and disadvantages. The one you should pick depends on your circumstances, including: your financial condition, the line of business you're entering, the number of employees, the risk involved, and your tax situation.

Q. Are there any "grants" available for my start-up business?

A. Generally speaking, grants given to business start-ups are very rare. An exception may be for a high-tech business or for businesses producing products that can be used by certain agencies or departments involved in our nation's defense.