SC: Start a Business
Starting a Business in South Carolina
Small Business Assessment Check! After answering these questions you will be able to further assess your readiness to start a business. It can also help you identify the areas that you need more preparation before beginning the business.
1. The Business Plan
The first step to starting your business should be to develop a business plan. The business plan itself doesn't have a specific structure. However, most business plans will include
- Executive Summary
- Ownership Summary
- Business Climate Study
- Product and/or Service Description
- Market Study
- Marketing Plan
- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis
- Web Plan Summary
- Personnel Plan
- Financial Summary
The purpose of the business plan is to give you a guide to follow as you start and operate your business. You will also learn more about your industry, product, service and market during the development of the plan. The business plan will also give you an accurate financial picture of the resources needed to operate your business.
Once the plan has been completed, use it as a guide. However, don't be afraid to adjust the plan as your business climate, market and opportunities change.
There are many resources available online and within the Chamber membership that will help you develop a business plan.
- Online Resources
- BPlans - BPlans provides plenty of free business plan templates available for free. If you need a quick plan or a template to jump-start your idea, this site may be a good resource.
- LivePlan - LivePlan by Palo Alto Software provide a more customizable option in creating your plan. It is a paid service, but it can provide a value if you don't have the resources to hire a firm to help you develop your plan.
- Local Resources
- SCORE - A resource partner of Small Business Association (SBA), SCORE is an organization to help entrepreneurs and small businesses start, grow, and succeed. SCORE offers entrepreneurs free small business confidential counseling to ensure their success. SCORE also provides local and online workshops, resources, tools, and templates to connect small businesses with the community and the information they need.
- UniComm Meda Group - UniComm Media Group provides the marketing, business, and financial expertise necessary to develop your business plan.
2. Registering Your Business
During the business planning process you will develop a strong name for your business. The next step in starting your business is registering that business with the appropriate authorities. Depending on your industry you may need to register with more than one of these agencies. All business registrations are processed through the South Carolina Secretary of State's Office, but you may need a special license or permit from the South Carolina Department of Labor, License and Regulation, SC Department of Revenue, and any cities or counties in which you operate.
Need help deciding which type of business organization is best for your business? Contact your attorney or accountant to discuss this topic. You may also contact local accounting firm Spara,LLC for guidance.
- SC Secretary of State - All business registrations (LLCs, LLPs, S-Corps, C-Corps, etc.) are processed through the South Carolina Secretary of State's Office
- SC Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation - LLR issues licenses to specific types of businesses including CPA firms, contractors and cosmetologists. Check the LLR website to see if you are required to have a license to operate in South Carolina.
- SC Department of Revenue - The South Carolina Department of Revenue collects sales and use taxes as well as withholding taxes from your business.
- SC Business One Stop - an all-inclusive website on how to start, and run your business in South Carolina. It offers step-by-step instructions on how to register and license your business for the first time. All information pertinent to registration and license applications, hiring employees, renewals, and other business claims can be found here.
- Local governments - cities and counties may require specific registrations and licenses for operating in their territory. Check your local city or county website for local codes and licenses applicable to your industry.
3. Financing your business
There are a variety of funding sources available.
- Small Business Administration - The United States Small Business Administration provides loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions, and other assistance to small businesses. There are many useful informational resources for small businesses on their website which can easily be found under the start & managing a business tab. SBA provides services mainly through their 4 programs; access to capital, entrepreneurial development, government contracting, and advocacy.
- Michelin Development Company
- Community Works
- Appalachian Development Corporation
4. Branding & Marketing Your Business
Once the business is registered, financed, and planned, it is time to implement a brand and marketing strategy.
Your brand will be what is most closely associated with your business. Because of this reason, you should invest time and resources in developing your name, logo and brand identity. Hire a marketing expert that will provide you with quality designs and insight. Avoid design firms that promise above average branding services at very low rates. Remember that your brand is one you should plan to keep for a minimum of five years. And as a new business with no brand recognition, it is vital that your brand stands out from your competitors.
Hire an expert firm like UniComm Media Group to help develop your brand. You can also find more marketing firms in our Membership Directory.
Your marketing strategy is vital to the success of your business. You have to decide how much to spend on advertising, which advertising venues you wil use, and how you will measure your return on investment. Be careful not to engage in uncoordinated marketing campaigns. Take the time to plan your strategy and measure results.
UniComm Media Group offers marketing strategy services and offers SCHCC members a free consultation about their marketing strategy.
5. Accounting Help
Accounting information provides the basis for sound decision-making. Having an in-depth knowledge about accounting will help you know your business better, know which products or services are profitable, predict cashflow and plan purchases accurately.
It is vital that the new business owner takes the time to properly set up his accounting system in a way that will help him streamline record-keeping and provide accurate statements. Learn about accounting software like Intuit Quickbooks, but more importantly, hire an accounting professional like Spara, LLC to run your accounting functions for you. You can find more accounting firms on our Membership Directory.
Starting a business tax guide - The IRS' "Starting a Business Tax Guide" provides the information that new business owners need to know about taxes. It also has basic information to assist in basic business making decisions.