SBDC Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center - Kutztown University of Pennsylvania - Helping businesses start, grow, and prosper

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Kutztown SBDC: Frequently Asked Questions

Our Frequently Asked Question list has been generated from the most common questions entrepreneurs have asked us. Look through the Table of Contents to search for topics covered in the FAQ pages.

Table of Contents

  1. What is the SBDC?
  2. What can the SBDC do for me?
  3. Starting & Growing a Successful Business
  4. Registering For Workshops
  5. Marketing & Sales
  6. Finance & Accounting
  7. Leadership & Management
  8. Government Marketing
  9. International Trade
  10. Environment & Energy Savings

What is the Kutztown SBDC?

What is it that the Kutztown SBDC does?

The Small Business Development Center program provides low- or no-cost guidance and training in proven management fundamentals helping small business owners and potential owners make sound decisions for the successful operation of their business. Part of a statewide network supported by the SBA and the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, the Kutztown SBDC serves businesses in a ten county area through individual, one-on-one, confidential counseling and group training. The Kutztown SBDC sponsors numerous workshops, conferences and courses each year at various locations in its ten-county service area. Instructors include SBDC staff, private-sector professionals, government experts and University faculty. Programs are nominally priced to serve the small-business community.
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Where is the Kutztown SBDC located?

The Kutztown SBDC has its main office located on the campus of Kutztown University at 15155 Kutztown Road, Kutztown, PA 19610. There are also regional offices located in Harrisburg, Exton and Lancaster.
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What are your hours of operation?

The normal hours of operation for the Kutztown Small Business Development Center on Kutztown University are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. Of course, you're able to access our homepage and its resource applications 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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Who pays for the SBDC program?

The SBDC is part of a statewide network of colleges and university centers (PASBDC) that is a joint venture of federal, state, and private sector agencies and organizations including the US Small Business Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce. Each agency, along with the host university, contributes to the financial support of the program.
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What is the cost for Kutztown SBDC services?

There is no charge for any of the SBDC consulting services. Fees are charged for seminars and workshops to cover costs of instructors, materials, etc.
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What can the SBDC do for me?

My business has been established for some time. How can the Kutztown SBDC help?

The SBDC provides an array of services to established businesses, including one-on-one consulting in business planning, marketing and promotions, financial analysis, and accounting. In addition, a Procurement Assistance program is available for companies that want to bid on Federal government contracts and an International Trade program is available for firms that want to enter into or expand in the global marketplace. A new Environmental Management Assistance program is also available.
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How can the SBDC help someone just thinking of starting a business?

The Kutztown University SBDC offers Pre-Business seminars for those individuals who want general information on starting a business, or who are in the initial start-up phase. These seminars provide the basis for getting a business up and running. Upon completion of the Business Planning seminar, individual consulting services will be available and you will be assigned a consultant who will guide you through the development process.
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Can I get help from the SBDC if my business is set up as a non-profit organization?

Because of the Kutztown SBDC's funding guidelines, the Center is not able to assist businesses that are established as non-profit. Nevertheless, many individuals from not-for-profit organizations take SBDC courses and benefit from them.
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What are the requirements of the program?

To receive assistance from the Kutztown SBDC, your business must be located in the following counties: Berks, Lebanon, Chester, Lancaster or Dauphin Counties, and fall under the Federal guidelines for a small business, which generally is 500 employees or less, and a maximum of $10 million in annual sales. The Kutztown SBDC also provide specialty consulting services in the fields of Government Marketing and International Marketing to Berks, Lebanon, Chester, Lancaster, Dauphin, York, Delaware, Cumberland, Adams, or Franklin counties
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What training programs do you offer?

Training is provided through a series of courses that are offered throughout the year. An updated list of these courses is available on our web site. Our most popular course is "The First Step Series", which takes you through the process of planning a new business.
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What are some ways to raise capital?

A business plan is a necessity for receiving any funding from a bank or loan institution. The First Step Series will help you in creating a business plan.
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What is the First Step Series?

The First Step Series is for new and existing businesses. It consists of a "Starting & Growing a Successful Business" workshop and 4 Business Plan Workshops.

"Starting & Growing a Successful Business" is designed for new or hopeful entrepreneurs. It outlines start-up steps and provides a SBA checklist for going into business. The workshop will allow you to learn and practice networking with other entrepreneurs. In addition, the workshop will cover financial planning, legal structures and accounting issues. Marketing your product/service will be a key point at the workshop. Free handouts will act as your reference after the workshop.

The four Business Plan Workshops cover all aspects of writing a business plan. Through these four workshops, you receive access to Kutztown SBDC's web-based planning tool that provides Step-By-Step guidance in researching and writing your business plan. Learn how to use this powerful tool to help develop your business plan with ease! Workshop topics include business description, products and services, marketing analysis and strategy, management and operations, marketing your message, public relations, personal selling, sales promotions, advertising, distribution, customer experience, word of mouth strategy ("viral marketing"), sales forecasting, cash-flow projections, the balance sheet. Learn the basics of successful marketing communications. Discussion topics include: logos, taglines, business cards, brochures, web design and search engine optimization (SEO), the methods used to develop a sales forecast for both a new venture and an existing business, and messages. The financial templates in Business Plan for Success and how to use them for your start-up or existing business will be discussed. There will also be a discussion of financial information required to complete your business plan, a presentation by a banker or economic development loan specialist covering the 5 C's of Credit and various loan programs, venture capital, angel networks, and bank applications and documentation. In addition, a Kutztown SBDC environmental specialist will provide materials for start-ups and existing businesses as well as environmental regulatory issues related to your businesses. Finally, all clients will be asked to bring their first draft of their business plan narrative for review and discussion. After you have competed the first draft of your Business Plan narrative and financial projections, then you are eligible for a one-to-one session with one of our business consultants. There is a one-time $60 fee per attendee for the 4 Business Plan workshops that covers registration, room rental and materials.
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What is a business plan? Do I need to write one?

A business plan is a "road map" for the direction of your business. It will contain such items as the history and development of your business, an explanation of the products and/ or services you offer, your marketing strategy, your legal and ownership structure, your management team, your human resources plan, and your financial projections. If you seek financing, you will almost certainly need one. Lenders such as banks, angel investors or venture capitalists will almost always require a business plan. One of the most important reasons to write such a plan, however, is that you, as an entrepreneur, will have to engage in a systematic process of thinking through and planning your business,.
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How long will it take to write a Business Plan?

A well thought-out business plan generally takes anywhere form six months to a year to complete, but it can be less depending on how committed you are to the business, and how much time you are willing to spend on writing your plan. Your business plan is a joint venture with your consultant. The SBDC consultant will not write a business plan for you. The writing of the plan is an educational process in which you learn about your business and how you expect it to operate. It should reflect your goals, objectives, priorities, and management style.
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What do I need to include in my business plan?

There is no universally accepted format for a business plan. A good plan might include the following elements:

an Executive Summary (a clear and exciting overview),
Company Products and Services (describe company and services in terms of customer functions, segments, technologies, distribution channels, features, benefits, current stage of development, proprietary position),
Customer and Market Analysis (customer description, market analysis, competitor analysis),
Strategy Analysis (state and justify your overall strategy and competitive advantage),
Marketing and Operations (plans for marketing and sales, production/delivery of product or services, product costs, operating complexity, required resources),
Management and Organization (backgrounds of key individuals, your ability to execute strategy and personnel needs, type of business, summaries of staffing requirements, organizational chart),
Milestone Events and Key Risks (present realistic a schedule of events, their anticipated timing and interrelationships between the major events necessary to launch and grow the venture; identify and discuss critical events and their impact on your plan; outline your contingency plan),
Financials (capitalization plan, uses of funds, pro forma financials and cash flow projections, current financials)
and an Appendix including supplementary supporting materials. About 25 pages, not including the Appendix, is a good rule of thumb for length. Be clear, concise, and non-repetitive. Examples of business plans can be found by searching the Internet.

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Who should write my business plan?

You, the entrepreneur, should write your business plan. It should reflect your character and style. While this might seem a daunting task, the process that you will go through to produce this information is invaluable. It will help you to understand your own business better and therefore to better explain it to lenders, investors, customers, and others. It is appropriate, however, to seek guidance and feedback on your business plan. While the Kutztown SBDC will not write your business plan for you, our consultants can provide this type of guidance and feedback.
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Can you write my business plan for me?

No. The Kutztown SBDC does not write business plans for clients. We believe that it is important for an entrepreneur to go through the process of creating a business plan on his or her own, rather than delegating this to someone else. We would be happy to help you with informational resources that will assist you in this endeavor, including sample business plans. For consulting clients, we would be happy to review and to help you to improve your business plan.
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The business is already profitable. Why does my banker want a full business

Your banker will want to know that you have a viable plan for operating the business. The financials are especially important. By changing owners, you may be completely changing the financial structure of the business. Your banker will want to know that the business can be profitable under your scenario.
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What is a feasibility study?

A feasibility study is a precursor to a business plan. In some cases it is a formal written analysis, and in some cases it is less formal assessment process. In either case, the feasibility study involves a process of gathering, analyzing and evaluating information in order to determine whether or not you should go into a particular business. If the answer is yes, you should proceed with a business plan.
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Can I receive one-on-one consulting?

Yes. After you complete our First Step Series of workshops, you will be eligible to meet with a highly qualified business consultant.
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If I receive one-on-one consulting, what should I take with me?

Everything that you would like to get advice on. We can only help you on what you tell us about. We are willing to help you in all aspects of your business. Also, most of our consultants will eat anything with chocolate in them.
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What consulting services do you offer?

Consulting is offered to clients who are committed to their businesses and who would benefit from assistance with a specific issue. Examples might include review of a business plans or financial model, support in developing a marketing plan, guidance in establishing business systems, or help with strategic planning. Our consulting is based on a model of guidance, review, and dialogue; we will not do all of your research and work for you. Rather, we provide the know-how and guidance for you to get it right. You will be eligible for consulting after completing the First Step Series of workshops.
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What can I expect from my consultant?

At your initial meeting, your consultant will review your business or proposal, determine a course of action and identify areas that both of you will be responsible for completing. Your consultant will then follow up with an engagement letter detailing your meeting and listing the items both of you will be working on, along with an estimated time frame for completion. While there is no charge for consulting services, the Kutztown SBDC consulting services differ from consulting firms' services because our clients very actively participate in the work. Generally, the Kutztown SBDC clients use consulting services to guide their process and their thinking; the clients do 80% of the work. The clients rely on the SBDC for guidance, ideas and feedback from a neutral source as well as for leading edge ideas and resources as they critique their own businesses.
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Is there a time limit in which I receive assistance?

Assistance is available to you as long as it is required. If there is no activity for several months, your case may be closed; however, it can be opened again at any time should you require further help.
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What other organizations might be able to help me?

Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center : Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center, or DVIRC, is a private, not-for-profit economic development organization. Its mission is to improve the competitiveness of small to medium-sized manufacturers in the southeastern Pennsylvania area.

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry : The mission of the Pennsylvania Chamber is to foster a healthy business climate and to improve the competitiveness of its members through lobbying and advocacy, grass-roots activity, influencing public opinion and policy, technology, research and information.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of South Eastern PA : Providing capital and technology expertise to start-up, early and emerging stage technology firms in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.

Pennsylvania Biz Online : Pennsylvania Biz Online is the result of the Commonwealth's effort to make Pennsylvania the easiest place in the world to start, sustain and expand a business. The web site gives entrepreneurs "one door" access to business information. Entrepreneurs can explore financial options, download many of the important forms necessary to start and expand a business, and electronically register a business with the Pennsylvania Departments of Labor and Industry, Revenue, and State.
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Starting & Growing a Successful Business

Should I start a small business?

Starting a small business usually requires a substantial commitment of resources, including time and money. Generally speaking, you should only consider starting a small business if you feel that you have a great idea that you feel passionately about and you have evaluated the opportunity rigorously. Making a business successful requires a lot of work, and most entrepreneurs find that they devote more time to their new businesses than they did to their previous jobs. If you are giving up a job, given the additional risk, you should consider a business only if the prospects suggest that you will at least double your income - within 2 to 3 years. For more information on the evaluating a new business opportunity and the process of starting a business, take a look at the courses we offer, especially "The First Step Series".
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If I can't find a job or have been laid off, should I start a business?

Starting a business involves much more than creating a job for your self. You must make a commitment to paperwork, record keeping, financing, marketing, planning and a host of other issues involved in operating a business. In addition, revenues may or may not come quickly. And ultimately, of course, you must have a product or service about which you feel passionately and which you can deliver. In some cases, starting a business may be a good alternative if you cannot find other employment, but lack of employment alone is not a good reason to start a business.
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What are the basic skills you need to run a business?

The basic survival skills include a working knowledge of record keeping; financial management; personnel management; market analysis; breakeven analysis; product or service knowledge; federal, state and local tax knowledge; legal structures; and communication skills. You should construct a written business plan which explains tells your company's story, including its organizational, financial and market-related details. Finally, you will have to go through the process of setting up your company, including its legal form, its tax identification numbers, it permits and/or licenses and so forth.
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How long will it take to start a small business?

Speed is not always best when starting a small business. While many businesses are started within a matter of weeks, some of the best businesses take several months to a year or more to start. The time frame is driven by your commitment and energy, as well as by how much time and effort you put in to research and planning. Whatever your time frame, we recommend that you make time to research and plan your business ahead of time.Even after a business is "started," it may be some time before the businesses generates a profit. Many startup companies are not profitable in the first couple of years.
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I have an idea for an invention. What should I do first?

Ideally, if you have a unique invention, you could file for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office , and perhaps with patent offices abroad. Unfortunately, this can be an expensive and time-consuming process that generally requires the use of an attorney. You can also file a provisional patent, which recognizes the date of your invention and provides you with one year to undertake the full patent process. Before undergoing the patent process, however, you should consider whether or not there is a real market for your product. The expense may not be worth the return. You should also consider whether you should pursue your invention on your own or whether you should license your intellectual property to another organization. Feel free to contact our consultants for help with these issues.
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What form of business do you recommend for a new business?

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
  • Your tax situation

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Can I operate a small business from my home?

It depends.For example, if your business involves customers coming to your premises, such as with a retail store, then there may be zoning restrictions that prohibit such activity in a residential area.Most businesses which are contained entirely within a home and which are non-disruptive to surrounding residential areas will be okay.If in doubt, check with your local business license or zoning officials.
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What kind of registration and licenses are generally required to start my business?

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 a Fictitious Name Registration. 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 will need an Employer's Identification Number (EIN) and it is a good idea to request the "Going Into Business Tax Kit" from the IRS.
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What are SIC and NAICS codes?

SIC is an acronym for Standard Industrial Codes à an old an outdated system which has been replaced. NAICS is an acronym for the new North American Industry Classification System , which has replaced SIC. These are numeric codes that correspond to almost every imaginable type of industry in which an organization might be engaged. Businesses are classified for statistical purposes under one or more of these industry codes.
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Do you need a lawyer to start a business?

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. Check your state law. Also, the Kutztown SBDC maintains of listing of local attorneys, accountants, and insurance agents who have expressed their interest in working with small business owners.
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Which form of business organization should I pick?

The answer depends on the balance you seek between complexity of the form, liability limits, the need to raise capital, the need for the business to continue after a death, the number of owners, and so on. If your business is a fairly risk-free "mom and pop" operation operated from your home, then a sole proprietorship or general partnership may be appropriate. For most businesses who plan to grow or engage in activities with risk, limited liability is an important issue. For these companies, an LLC, an LLP, or an S Corporation are probably good choices. Most small businesses would not want to start out as a C Corporation if they have 75 or fewer owners, because they would not want to face double taxation.
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What is a sole proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business organization. It has only one owner, and that owner reports all profits and losses as personal income on his or her personal income tax forms. The primary disadvantages are: unlimited personal liability for all debts and legal liabilities of the business, difficulty in raising capital, and discontinuation of the business upon the owner's death. While most small businesses are sole proprietorships, this would not be an appropriate form if you intend to grow to any substantial size.
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What is a general partnership?

A general partnership is like a sole proprietorship with multiple owners. All profits and losses are reported as personal income on the individual partners' income tax forms, according to the partner's pro-rata share of ownership. A general partnership is easy to establish. The partners need only form an agreement among themselves. It is advisable that this agreement is in writing. No state filing is required, with the possible exception of a fictitious name registration. The primary disadvantages are: unlimited personal liability for the partnership's debts and legal liabilities, difficulty in raising capital, discontinuation of the partnership upon the death of a partner, and the fact that any partner can commit the firm (and thus other partners) to legal obligations. This would not be an appropriate form if you intend to grow to any substantial size.
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What is a limited partnership?

A limited partnership is a fairly simple business form in which there are one or more general partners and one or more limited partners. General partners are generally those involved in day-to-day decision-making or operations. Limited partners are not involved in day-to-day operations and are most often just investors. All profits and losses flow through to partners according to their partnership agreement, which should be written. Limited partners have limited exposure to liability. The primary disadvantages are: general partners face unlimited liability for the firm's debts and legal liabilities, discontinuation of the partnership upon the death of a partner, and the fact that any general partner can commit the partnership (and thus other general partners) to legal obligations.
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What is a limited liability partnership (LLP)?

A limited liability partnership (LLP) is formed when an existing partnership (see above) files an election with the Corporations Bureau of the Pennsylvania Department of State, claiming this status. Once this status is claimed, all partners, including general partners, are provided additional protection against unlimited future liability. Income still flows through to individual partners' income tax forms, and the partnership still terminates on the death of a partner.
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What is a limited liability company (LLC)?

A limited liability company (LLC) is a sort of hybrid form between a partnership and an S corporation à it has the liability protection of a corporation, with the advantage of being treated as a partnership. All profits and losses flow through to the individual owners' income tax forms. An LLC is simpler to establish and maintain than a corporation. A Certificate of Organization and a docketing statement must be filed with the state. This is a popular form for many new small businesses.
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What is an S-corporation?

An S corporation is a fairly complex business form, where the owners all hold shares of stock. Nevertheless, all profits and losses flow through to the individual shareholders according to their ownership interest, and there is no corporate income tax. To establish a corporation, Articles of Incorporation must be drawn up and filed with the state, along with a docketing statement. An S corporation election must be filed with the IRS and with the state Department of Revenue. (If you do not file this election, you will be considered a C corporation!)All owners have limited exposure to liability, and the business can continue upon the death of a shareholder or the transfer of ownership of shares. The primary disadvantages of an S corporation are: the relative complexity of the paperwork involved, and the fact that there may be no more than 75 shareholders. It is advisable to have an attorney handle the setup of a corporation. This is a great form for businesses that plan to grow large.
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What is a C-corporation?

A C-Corporation is the most complex business form. This is the only business form that faces double taxation. That is, the corporation pays corporate tax on earnings, and then individual shareholders pay income tax again on dividends. To establish a corporation, Articles of Incorporation must be drawn up and filed with the state, along with a docketing statement. All owners have limited exposure to liability, and the business can continue upon the death of a shareholder or the transfer of ownership of shares. The primary disadvantages are: the relative complexity of the paperwork involved, and the issue of double taxation. It is advisable to have an attorney handle the setup of a corporation. Most very large companies are C corporations, although they often started with a simpler form.
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What business should I choose?

Choosing the right business is extremely important. There should be a match between your talents, interests and capabilities and the competition and market demand for your products and/or services. Do not fall prey to an "if I build it they will come" mentality. Many otherwise good businesses have failed because they simply did not have an adequate market or the competition was too strong. Ask yourself: "How will I win? What is my competitive advantage?"If you cannot come up with compelling answers, then you should probably choose another business. It is also valuable to consult others when choosing a business. You may want to visit and talk with similar businesses outside your service area. Talk with professionals such as attorneys, lawyers, marketing professionals, and bankers. Ask family and friends for their thoughts. If you don't already have experience in the field you are considering, you may even want to work for a similar business before venturing out on your own. In short, do your homework before you jump in.
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Should I buy a franchised business to start?

Starting a franchised business can provide you access to a known trademark and an established system of doing business. Generally you will have to pay an initial franchise fee and ongoing royalties, plus other start-up costs. In the best cases, you will get ongoing support in management, training, purchasing, advertising, research and other critical areas. In many cases, however, small franchises do not provide significant useful support. Most large, well-known franchises are too expensive for many beginning entrepreneurs. Talk to other franchisees before making a decision. In some cases a franchise can be a good place to start, but it is no guarantee for success.
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Should I buy an existing business to start?

By purchasing an existing business, you can potentially avoid the long lead times involved in launching an enterprise and building a customer base. There should be an established pattern of income and expenses that you can evaluate. Be careful, however. Many business owners want to sell because they anticipate changing or unfavorable conditions in the future or because there is some underlying trouble with the business. Make sure that you fully understand the business and the future market. If you do not have much business experience to begin with, then buying an existing business may be a larger first step than you are ready to take.
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How do I keep the current owner from starting a new business and stealing my customers?

As part of the sales agreement for the business, you can include a "no compete" clause. Your lawyer will be able to draft the wording. In essence this should define what competition includes and what the current owner is prohibited from doing, where he is prohibited from doing it, and for how long.
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The current owner is making money, so I will make money too, right?

Not necessarily. A lot of things change when a business is acquired. Customers that were loyal to the previous owner may disappear. Employees may leave. Business conditions and markets may change. The financial structure of the business may change. In short, there are many critical factors, which contribute to a business' profitability that may change when you take over. Think through these carefully, and don't assume that a profitable business will continue to make money when your assume ownership.
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Why do I need the current owner's schedule C or corporate returns for the business?

These tax documents are a good indication of what's happening with the business, and it is more difficult to "fudge" these past tax returns than current financial statements. Your lender will likely want to see these documents, and you should too. Take a look at the profitability trends of the business as reported to the government over a period of time.
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How do I know how much the business is really worth?

There is no single accepted way to determine a "correct" value for a business. When it comes down to it, all reasonable methods rely on predictions of the future that may or may not be correct. One way commonly used is to project free cash flows into the future and discount these future cash flows back to the present using an interest rate, such as the cost of capital. Another way is to compare the business to other similar businesses that have been sold recently, making certain adjustments such as for size. Yet another way is to look at the book value or an appraised value of actual assets. If you do not have a background in business valuation, you may want to enlist the assistance of professionals to help you arrive at a reasonable estimate of worth.
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Does the Kutztown SBDC offer SBA loans or other financing?

No. Our assistance is limited to information, training, and consulting. Business loans, including SBA loans, are generally administered through traditional banks and other lending institutions. It is often a good idea to start with the bank where you normally do business.
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What assistance can the Kutztown SBDC give me to get a loan?

From time-to-time the Kutztown SBDC offer training classes which address the issue of financing your business. Additionally some help may be found by reviewing the information on our web site.
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How do I get financing?

The Kutztown SBDC does not provide financing. Our assistance is technical and educational in nature. We work with banks and other lending agencies and organizations to assist in putting together financial projections, but the actual financing comes from outside sources. Generally, you start with the bank where you normally do business and have established accounts. You may have to apply at several lending institutions or look for alternative sources such as outside investors. 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
  • Conditions of the economy and/or market area

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What do I need to qualify for a business loan?

If you seek financing from a typical bank or commercial lender, you will need reasonably good credit, proper paperwork, and probably some form of collateral. Because most lenders such as banks are governed by federal lending guidelines, they are limited in their ability to provide non-collateralized loans. If you have equity in real estate, automobiles, stocks, or something else that you can promise as security, then your chances of receiving a loan will be greatly improved.
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What documentation do I need to get a loan?

Different lenders will require different paperwork. You can expect to be asked for a business plan à especially the financials portion. Also, you will likely be asked for verification of your income and assets, including past tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, etc. They may also have certain application forms that they will want you to fill out. Contact each individual lender for its requirements.
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Can I get a loan if my credit record/personal history is bad?

As the quality of your credit record and personal history declines, so do your chances of getting a loan à especially if you do not have good collateral. It is important to clear up your credit history and any other outstanding legal issues to the extent that you can. With a shaky history, you may have more success borrowing from individuals than from institutions.
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What is an SBA loan? Where can I apply for one?

The SBA offers a series of loan guarantee programs tailored to various situations. Generally, these programs are intended for small businesses that could not obtain this type of financing under normal circumstances. SBA loans are administered by private sector lenders such as traditional banks and some non-bank lenders. Most lenders will be familiar with the process, and you should contact them directly for further information and assistance. The Kutztown SBDC is not involved in any way in providing SBA loans or any other type of loan.
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What are the interest rates and other terms of SBA loans?

Interest rates and other terms of the loans are subject to negotiation between you and your lender, subject to certain limitations by the SBA. The SBA simply guarantees the loan, and charges the lender certain fees to do so. These charges will be built in to your terms by the lender.
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How long will it take to get a loan?

Depending on the policies of your lender and the type and size of the loan you seek, it could take from a few days to several weeks to process a business loan after all materials have been submitted.
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Are there loans for women-owned businesses or for minority-owned businesses?

The Pennsylvania Minority Business Development authority (PMBDA) provides low-interest financing to businesses owned and operated by ethnic minorities. The federal government does not offer any guaranteed loans specifically for women or minorities. However, through the Women and Minorities Pre-Qualification Loan Program, the SBA pre-qualifies women and minority business owners in certain regions of the U.S. for loans of up to $250,000 before they even apply to a lender. The program focuses on the character, credit, experience and reliability of an applicant, not just their collateral. For more information, see the website for the SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership or the SBA's site for information on both programs.
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Are there loans for veterans?

The SBA provides special consideration for veterans in processing and administering SBA loans, but there is no government-backed business loan program specifically targeted to veterans.
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How does a lender evaluate my application?

Traditional lenders, such as banks, evaluate on the basis of creditworthiness, collateral, financial strength of those involved, assessment of the business (from the business plan and financials) and to a lesser extent on their history with and sense of trust of an individual.
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What are non-bank lenders?

Some lenders do not qualify as banks in a traditional sense, but yet provide some similar services such as SBA-guaranteed loans. An example is a finance company.
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What grants are available for my business?

Generally, grants are not available for starting up a small business. There are grants through federal and state resources, as well as the private sector, for some research and development projects, high-tech businesses, and other specialized areas. Your local public library will have complete listings in the Reference Department.
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Are there any grants for start-up businesses or for established businesses?

There are no SBA grants, and almost no other grants, which are available to start or expand a business. Two exceptions are the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) .Don't get your hopes up, however. These programs are highly competitive, merit-based awards for serious Research and Development activities. The SBA does maintain a list of links to grants , but few if any of them would apply to a typical small business.
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How much money do I need?

There is no easy answer to this question. As part of your planning process, you should construct pro-forma financials statements, based on anticipated revenues, expenses, and sources of funding. Part of this process will involve thinking through a line-item budget for your business, which is broken down over a period of months and/or years. By analyzing these numbers, you should be able to determine how much money you will need. Be realistic in your budget and allow some extra for unanticipated expenses. However, most successful entrepreneurs are frugal in their spending habits, for example, they will may buy used equipment. Review your financial plan with individuals who have experience in small business to help ensure that you do not miss important costs. Generally, in businesses where growth is expected to be not very fast, the sources of funds tend to be one's own savings and collateral and those of owners' friends and family (only take what you and your family and friends can afford to lose). Bank loans are likely here too. For businesses that will only be viable with fast growth, there is a need to tap outside funds, and the promise there is big returns to the outsiders. This is the context in which we consider outside equity.
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What is equity?

Equity is the value of anything that is owned, such as a business or a house, less any outstanding debt. If your business is worth $100,000 and you owe $70,000 in business loans to your bank, then you have $30,000 worth of equity in the business. Businesses can be financed with equity and/or debt. If a business is financed with equity, then the provider of equity receives an ownership stake in the business. For example, your company may sell shares of stock (equity) to raise money. The value of equity in a business changes over time as the value of the business itself changes.
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What is debt?

Debt is a promise to pay some amount in the future. Examples include business loans and mortgages. Debt does not imply ownership of an asset, although assets are sometimes promised as collateral to help guarantee payment. If a business is financed with debt, then the business is obligated to repay that debt, usually with interest and fees.
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What are grants?

Grants are like gifts. They do not have to be repaid, and they do not require ownership of an asset. In some cases, however, grants may be contingent on your meeting certain criteria. Grants are rare and are not a typical source of funding for small businesses.
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Should I raise equity?

Raising money through the sale of equity is a very popular technique. The advantage is that there is no requirement that equity be repaid. The disadvantage is that you are giving up a share of your business, and thus also, you may be giving up some control. In many cases, it is easier to raise equity than debt.
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Who can I raise equity from?

You can raise equity from anyone you choose, including friends, family, angel investors, venture capitalists or other companies. If you raise funds using equity, it is advisable to have the assistance of an attorney who is familiar with these types of transactions. With certain business forms, there can be tax implications of raising equity from certain sources. Also, raising equity from unqualified investors or raising equity in an improper way could compromise your ability to seek further rounds of financing.
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What are angel investors?

Angel investors are most often wealthy individuals who are willing to take a risk on a small company. There are many of these individuals out there, and a large percentage of early-stage companies receive money from these types of individuals. The process with angel investors is often less formal than with traditional lenders or venture capital firms. They usually provide smaller rounds of financing (typically $10,000 - $500,000) than would interest Venture Capitalists firms. Angel investors usually look for equity in return for their investment. In addition to being a source of money, angel investors can be a source of great advice. You can find these types of individuals through your own contacts or through angel networks. It is important to be well prepared with a solid business plan and with the terms of the financing you seek before contacting angel investors.
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How do I get Venture Capitalists money?

Venture Capitalists are generally interested in bigger deals (typically $500,000 and above) than angel investors. Many VCs are involved in venture capital firms, and they are professionals in this field. To receive VC funding, you must convince VCs that you have a strong management team, a good product or service with strong revenue potential, and a good plan. A well-thought-out written business plan is vital. VCs are not usually the first place to seek funding. They often come in with larger investments after a company has received startup funding from other sources. You can check out a list of funding sources maintained by Ben Franklin Technology Partners. It is important to be well prepared with a solid business plan and with the terms of the financing you seek before contacting venture capitalists. Feel free to contact our consultants if you feel that your company is ready for VC funding and you would like help in preparation .
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Registering For Workshops

How do I sign up for a workshop?

On the home page, click the tab "Learning" and then follow the directions from there.
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Where can I find directions to the workshop location?

From our homepage, click on contact us/directions.
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How do I cancel my reservation?

The easiest way to cancel your reservation is by calling the Kutztown SBDC at 484-646-4003 at least 24 hours before the workshop. You may also email us at
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What happens if a workshop is canceled?

Kutztown SBDC reserves the right to cancel any workshop that has less than six (6) registrants three (3) business days prior to the scheduled date. We are required by university policy to cancel workshops in inclement weather. Please refer to the Kutztown University website for postings of class cancellations - if KU classes are cancelled, Kutztown SBDC classes are cancelled too. Kutztown SBDC reserves the right to cancel classes due to local weather conditions regardless of KU class cancellations. In this case, we will notify registrants by email or you can call 484-646-4003 for automated updates. We will refund the full amount upon any cancellation.
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Are there any other disclaimers to the workshops?

Kutztown SBDC reserves the right to change presenters without notice prior to the workshop due to illness or unexpected schedule conflicts. The Kutztown SBDC will do its best to replace the presenter with someone who is equally qualified and knowledgeable to handle the subject matter of the workshop.

Marketing & Sales

How do I create a website?

Although there are some sites on the Internet that provide free, "do-it-yourself" limited websites to individuals or businesses, most do not allow for your own separate domain name and most do not allow much flexibility on such factors as the size of your site. Your ability to advertise your site and to appear on search engines may be complicated if you use these free sites. On the other hand, these may be a good starting point if money is a concern. Most serious business websites, however, will register their own domain name and will have a professionally produced website which is maintained on the Internet by a web hosting company. These companies will also normally help you register your site with search engines and also maximize your chances of hits through careful design. You should be able to find a number of such services in your area that can help you accomplish all of these tasks by checking in the phone book or searching on the Internet.
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How do I sell on the Internet?

Your Internet site can do many things. The simplest idea is to use your site as an advertisement to attract customers to your physical location. The next step might be to try to get customers to contact you by phone, fax, mail, email, or a basic on-line form to make orders. In this case, website design is fairly simple, and whoever creates your site will be able to provide contact information and online forms that visitors to your site can fill out. The most complicated way to do business on the Internet is through an interactive "shopping cart" site in which customers might be able to view your inventory, select items, and make online orders. This implies much more sophisticated software and planning and would require the use of site designers who are skilled in this type of setup.
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Finance & Accounting

How can the Kutztown SBDC help my business with finance and accounting issues?

The failure to effectively manage the financial resources of your company can mean the overall failure of your business. This is why the Kutztown SBDC has a variety of tools designed to help you effectively manage your business finances. These tools will help you achieve specific financial objectives by efficiently and effectively managing your accounting, inventory, budget and resources. Specifically, we can help you with Quickbooks, cost accounting, inventory systems, pro-forma statements, budget preparation, and financial analysis.
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What basic skills do I need to run a business?

The basic skills include a working knowledge of record keeping, financial management, personnel management, market analysis, breakdown analysis, product or service knowledge, federal, state, and local tax knowledge, legal structures, and communication skills.
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Leadership & Management

Is the Kutztown SBDC qualified enough for me to receive advice from them on how I should run my business?

The Kutztown SBDC develops and grows businesses every day. That's what we do. Businesses that take advantage of the services we offer survive longer and grow faster than those that don't. When you're facing some of the toughest decisions of your professional life, you want the best people advising you and the best resources at your fingertips. That's precisely what we bring to the table. Our business consultants have impressive credentials and practical experience in every stage of business development, from pre-venture to multi-billion dollar companies.
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Government Marketing

How do I sell my product or services to the government?

There are a number of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) around the state of Pennsylvania. These centers can provide more information on doing business with the government.
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What is a Federal Supply Code?

A Federal Supply Code (FSC) is the federal government coding system of products and services. Services are categorized A-Z while products use 10Ã99. They are broken down further into federal supply classes and national stock numbers.
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What is a DUNS Number?

A DUNS Number (Data Universal Numbering System) is used to identify companies for financial tracking by the federal government. It is required by the federal government to obtain CAGE Code and TPIN.
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What is a CAGE Code?

A CAGE Code ( Commercial and Government Entity) is a five-character alphanumeric identification system administered to identify commercial and government entities (companies may have more than one). It is mandatory in order to do federal government contracting. It is automatically assigned when a company completes the CCR Registration online.
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What is a TPIN and the CCR?

A TPIN (Trading Partner Identification Number) is the number assigned to companies after they have registered in the CCR (Central Contractor Registration). All companies doing business with the Department of Defense must register in the CCR. This database tracks companies banking information to facilitate the electronic funds transfer process when a company is paid for a government contract.
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What is PRO-Net?

PRO-Net is an Internet-based database of procurement information on small businesses, which is sponsored by the Small Business Administration. Once a company registers in the CCR and checks the small business box, their information is automatically transferred to the PRO-Net database. PRO-Net is used by contracting officers and prime contractors to seek qualified small companies.
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What is a HUBZone?

A HUBZone is a "historically underutilized business zone". To qualify as a HUBZone company, it must be locate in a HUBZone and owned and controlled by a U.S. Citizens, and at least 35% of its employees reside in a HUBZone. Companies must be certified by SBA. The certification application and map are located at
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How does a company become a registered vendor with the Commonwealth of PA?

As part of the ImaginePA project, the Commonwealth is centralizing multiple vendor databases into a central vendor database managed by the Central Vendor Management Unit. The information in this file will be accessed by all agencies using the new SAP software in order to do business with Commonwealth vendors. Registration with the Central Vendor Management Unit can take place via an online form available at or via a paper form by calling the Central Vendor Management Unit (CMVU) toll free at 1-866-775-CVMU (2868) or locally at 717-214-CVMU (2868) or by email at .
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What is the State ITQ?

The State ITQ (Invitation to Qualify) provides statewide contracts that are intended to give state agencies fast and easy access to Information Technology, Personnel Management and Education Technology services by doing business with pre-qualified vendors. ITQ services are offered through three main contracts:

  • Master IT Services ITQ

  • Management Training and Consulting ITQ

  • Educational Technologies Master ITQ

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What are Statewide Contracts?

Statewide contracts are for a specified period of time, are competitively bid, and are awarded by the Bureau of Purchases. The invitation for bids solicits firm prices on estimated quantities for delivery to using agencies as ordered throughout the contract period. The complete listing of statewide contracts can be found at: .

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International Trade

How can the Kutztown SBDC help my business compete internationally?

The Kutztown SBDC provides assistance in creating a viable strategic plan as first step to entering the international market. The plan will identify opportunities, risks, trade shows and missions, and various marketing activities to focus your efforts and resources.
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For frequently asked questions on exporting click here?

For frequently asked questions on importing click here?

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Environmental & Energy Savings

Who needs environmental management?

Businesses in any industry, including the manufacturing, retail and service sectors can benefit from improved efficiency through strategic environmental management. Pollution prevention and energy efficiency approaches may vary by sector, but the opportunities always exist.
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What is OSHA?

OSHA is an acronym for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration .OSHA is a department of the federal government that is responsible for enforcing a vast number of regulations, which are primarily oriented toward safe working conditions. Many small business owners are unaware of the extent of OSHA regulations and what they need to do to comply. From time to time, SBDC's around the state of Pennsylvania host courses related to OSHA compliance.
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1.877.472.7232 - Kutztown University Small Business Development Center

A partnership program of the U.S. Small Business Administration and accredited affiliate of the national network of Small Business Development Centers.
All services provided on a non-discriminatory basis.

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