In an attempt to learn more about the potential problems encountered when starting a business, I signed up for a counseling session with my local chapter of SCORE which is a free counseling service to small businesses and people thinking of starting a company. And while I probably should have been seeking counseling in an office with a large leather couch, I decided to compromise on a session with two volunteers of the SCORE program who had retired from their previous careers.
With my mentors being of the retired over-sixty variety, I didn’t bring up the latest in search engine optimization technology or to what extent I should use meta-tags in the HTML code of my website. (It’s a good thing I didn’t because, I wouldn’t know jack about that stuff either) However, there was about 90 years of work experience sitting at the table and, free of charge by the way, they were attempting to put me in the right direction if and when I decide to execute the explosive launch of my company.
They were good. They gave me a business start-up checklist that got me to consider the organization structure, target market, financing, and insurance requirements. They got me thinking about a business plan and helped me out in the organization structure department by suggesting that I start off as a sole-proprietorship rather than an LLC or S-corporation. Their reasons for this actually made a lot of sense.
I know there are ways to set up a corporation over the internet that are relatively inexpensive, but the SCORE counselors were recommending doing it the “right” way and hiring an attorney. This could bring the total cost of incorporation to between $500 and $1000. A sole proprietorship is less than $100 (registering a fictitious name) and a corporation really doesn’t give me any significant protection at this time. Basically, if someone wanted to sue me or my company they would sue me individually regardless of my corporate status. And given the fact that I don’t exactly have a couple mill in my bank account, the protection it would provide me really isn’t worth it at this time.
We also talked a bit about sales and the difference between features and benefits of a company. I showed them a narrative I did about the services of my company and they pointed out that I very clearly described the “features” of the company, but I was a little light on the “benefits” side. So what is the difference?
For example, a feature of a construction company is that you use the latest in project management software technology. The benefit of this is that the software provides detailed cost controls and reports leading to better schedule management and minimizes cost overruns. I’m not too experienced on the sales side, so this was some beneficial information (no pun intended).
But more than anything else the counselors at SCORE, much like counselors of the psychological variety, are an unbiased and knowledgeable party that is willing to listen to you and work in your best interests. They are nice people who have started companies in the past and know what obstacles may come about.