If you're thinking of starting or growing your own small business in the Denton area, there are several resources to consider as you plan your successful entrepreneurial future.
In order to develop a marketing strategy, secure funding or plan the direction of your company, you will first need a business plan. Though it can be a challenging and time-consuming undertaking, a well thought-out plan can be the key to the success of your business.
Texas Woman's University's Center for Women in Business can help get the process started with business plan development assistance designed specifically for woman-owned enterprises. The CWB has a business plan reference library, access to sample plans, professional advisement and access to LivePlan, a business plan development tool available online — all free and available to entrepreneurs in the Denton community.
Critical to moving forward with your business planning is identifying your target market. There are several sources of information to help you with market research. The Denton Public Library can provide you with access to Reference USA, which profiles 49 million businesses and 281 million consumers.
The Small Business Development Center of North Central Texas is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration and North Central Texas College and has several satellite offices throughout the area. The SBDC has access to a broad range of customizable resources for market research, including:
● Creation of a customer profile using a description of the "best customer" for a product or service;
● Statistics of an area including population, age, income, race, gender, employment, housing and education;
● Retail supply and demand figures and opportunity gap analysis for a specified area;
● A one- to five-mile radius report for annual consumer expenditures and demographics that also indicates competitor business locations; and
● A breakdown of markets by industry to show size and sales figures.
The SBDC is also an incredible resource for other business assistance services and counseling such as financing, financial statement analysis, marketing, accounting and record keeping, sales and advertising.
It is important to get the word out about your business, and one of the best ways of doing this is to take advantage of networking opportunities in your area. Contact your local chamber of commerce to find out how you can attend networking events, fundraisers, workshops and other activities, all with the goal of connecting local business owners.
Access to capital is, of course, crucial for your growing business. In addition to local lending institutions, the SBA 504 loan program is designed to promote economic development growth and job creation in small businesses. The program can make the overall financing structure for a new business or project more attractive and affordable.
These are just a few examples of the resources available to small business owners in Denton County. Other sources of information include the Denton Economic Development Partnership and Denton County Economic Development. Be sure to take full advantage of the abundant ways Denton County can help ensure the success of its small business owners.
Shannon Mantaro is director of Texas Woman's University's Center for Women in Business and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information regarding the Center for Women in Business, visit https://twu.edu/center-women-business.