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Anyone who has wanted to start a business or create their own company usually begins with two key ingredients—imagination and motivation. What many need to complete the recipe for success are, first, the working capital to make it happen and, second, the knowledge and/or experience to lead that concept in the right direction.
Utah is blessed with an abundance of entrepreneurial spirit. Fortunately, it’s also gifted with a variety of resources that can help raise the money necessary to launch a new business and the practical advice to keep it running.
Why do I need a business plan? How do I get a small business loan? Should I form an LLC or incorporate? Chasing your dream and launching a business can be exhilarating—and terrifying. Sometimes all you need is a little encouragement and a bit of know-how. Fortunately, several organizations in Utah are ready to provide just that.
Business Resource Centers.
Earlier this year, Utah Valley University in Orem opened its Business Resource Center, the school’s self-labeled “storefront for economic development.” It’s actually one of 12 such BRCs that have been established by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) across the state.
Director Roger Andrus describes the UVU center as a “greenhouse, where the seeds of economic activity are sown and nourished.” BRCs provide a range of services, from training and technical expertise to networking and access to sources of capital. The UVU center also has business incubators—spaces that provide fledgling companies the resources to gain strength and grow.
“Many who have worked with other successful Utah companies, particularly in technology-based companies, are looking to strike out on their own,” Andrus says. “They realize they can do many things for themselves, but they might still feel the need for expertise or guidance in a few areas. That’s where we can help.”
BRCs throughout the state host seminars and presentations geared for startup and small businesses, as well as mentoring and coaching, free legal and accounting advice, market research assistance, managerial training, infrastructure and business operational support, and training for international programs.
Other Government Programs.
The state of Utah, through GOED, has developed several targeted resources to support business development and economic expansion. Those looking to create a business around a technological innovation can look to the Utah Science, Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative for support. USTAR established four regional offices in Utah to help local entrepreneurs commercialize their inventions. These regional offices provide consulting and networking opportunities, as well as help with product development and patent research.
Utah Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) help connect small businesses with government contracting opportunities (federal, state and local). The program’s nine statewide locations provide workshops and one-on-one consultations. PTAC has specialized software to help match businesses with bid opportunities and can help develop winning proposals.
The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is dedicated to helping manufacturing companies operate as efficiently as possible. The organization offers training in Six Sigma, lean techniques and sustainable practices, as well as leadership and strategic planning.
The best advise usually comes from people who have “been there, done that.” SCORE, a nonprofit that focuses on helping small businesses and entrepreneurs, has a valuable, statewide network of volunteer mentors who are willing to share advice on everything from accounting to marketing to human resource dilemmas. SCORE also hosts workshops and seminars and has an extensive online library of webinars, business templates and articles.
SCORE is a partner of the Small Business Administration (SBA)—as is the Utah Small Business Development Center (USBDC). This organization encompasses 11 service centers statewide and four satellite locations, which all provide consulting, training, networking, and resources like market research and business referrals.
Despite its name, the Women’s Business Center at the Salt Lake Chamber offers tools and resources for business owners of any gender. The Women’s Business Center has a full slate of seminars, networking events and mentorship opportunities.
The Beehive State hums with entrepreneurial activity, and this rich culture of business creation has solid benefits for up-and-coming entrepreneurs—many experienced individuals, organizations and companies are dedicated to coaching ambitious newbies.