Starting a small business

Visit the online Small Business Reference Center for help starting and expanding your small business.

Starting a small business is not easy. Your idea needs to develop into a plan and ultimately transform into action. With all the facets of business to consider – from accounting to marketing, to industry research, to day-to-day operations, location, and more – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start.

The library’s Digital Branch provides free access to the Small Business Reference Center that can help you get started, and help you as you develop and grow your business. The Reference Center is organized by the following four basic categories.

Start-Up Kit and business plans 

Every small business should start with the business plan. This gives you a road-map of where you’re going and how to get there. You also need a good business plan to obtain financing. Here are some of the start-up topics:

  • Small Business Start-Up Kit
  • Writing a business plan
  • Sample business plans
  • Sales revenue forecast
  • Cash flow
  • Profit-and-Loss forecast

Business areas

These are the general areas you need to address when starting and running a business, including:

  • Legal issues – Are you going to be a Sole Proprietor, S-Corporation, or LLC?
  • Planning and starting a business
  • Financing a business
  • Accounting
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Operations
  • Expanding a business

Industry information by small business type 

Industry information is often one of the hardest topics to research when starting your business. Industries vary widely in terms of financial norms, business trends, target markets, competition and accessibility to new companies.

The Reference Center has timely journal articles and industry research on more than 70 business industries.  Many industries are profiled by the “Barnes Report,” a leading U.S. market research company. You can access free PDF reports on dozens of industries.

Business basics

 The basics cover everything you need to know to run your business, including the following:

  • Starting a business
  • Starting a business from home
  • Marketing
  • Hiring your first employee
  • Reacting to market changes
  • Starting and running a non-profit
  • Conducting successful meetings

The Small Business Reference Center includes a collection of state-specific resources, such as demographic data, fastest growing cities, licenses and permits, organizations, and more that are important to the start and development of businesses. Browse by state to find information specific to your market area.

Also on this database, you will find complete PDF copies of more than 20 NOLO books. NOLO is one of the Internet’s leading legal websites and publisher of do-it-yourself legal guides.

Terry was the business librarian.