Ask a Coach
have a question about starting or growing your business?
What's your question?
Ask A Coach Library
What are the Steps for Starting/ Licensing My Business in Loudoun County?
Loudoun SBDC advisor, Demetrios Sapounas has put together a step-by-step guide to walk through the process of starting a business in Virginia and Loudoun County.
The first step is to register the business in Virginia. The next series of steps involves registering the business with the Town or County of your choice. Finally, you should consider other questions such as: How do I get a business bank account? Does my business require business insurance?
View the full step-by-step process by visiting here.
How Do I Determine If Its a Good Idea to Pursue My Business Idea?
According to Subodh Nayar, Loudoun SBDC advisor, deciding if an idea will support a business is among the hardest question to address, and frequently because the question is not framed well. A successful business idea is one that can be delivered at less than the cost it takes to deliver, to a community big enough to sustain the business for the long term.
Answering that question has two steps. The first is: can you define a target user of the product and what is their desired product experience? The second is, how many of these target users are there and what do you need to do to move them along their buyer journey, the process of awareness, evaluation, selection and purchase?
Read the full answer here.
How Do I Effectively Manage My Remote Workforce?
The webinar, Managing a Remote Workforce, can help you understand some simple best practices and techniques for managing your team remotely. Presented by the Virginia SBDC and hosted by the Lynchburg SBDC director, Stephanie Keener, this session will give you practical and actionable information to use as you work to keep your team focused and on task.
Should I Have Business Interruption Insurance?
Mary Joynt, Marketing Advisor, SBDC says that business interruption insurance may be an important consideration for your business. Learn more about what’s covered and what you should consider when speaking with your insurance company in the Virginia SBDC Business Recovery Resource Center, here: https://www.virginiasbdc.org/covid-resource-center/what-else-should-i-be-thinking-about/.
How Do I Apply for the Leesburg Infusion Grant?
Eric Byrd, Manager, Loudoun SBDC, has prepared a video to walk applicants through the process, as well as answer common questions about the applying for the grant. Watch the video here, and get more details and links to other resources on this topic at: https://loudounsbdc.com/leesburg-business-infusion-grant-application-walk-through/
Can I Reinstate My Limited Liability Company (LLC)?
According to Eric Byrd, Manager, Loudoun SBDC, the good news is that it is fairly simple to reinstate an entity with the Virginia State Corporation Commission as long as it is reactivated within 5 years. This is not only valid for an LLC, but also S-Corporations or C-Corporations as well. Read the full answer and get links to other resources on this topic at: https://loudounsbdc.com/can-i-reinstate-an-old-limited-liability-company/.
Can I Use CARES Act Funding to Purchase a Business?
According to Eric Byrd, Manager, Loudoun SBDC, there are provisions in the 2020 CARES Act to assist you if you are looking to purchase a business or secure a traditional SBA loan for your business. Read the full answer and get links to other resources on this topic at: https://loudounsbdc.com/using-cares-act-funding-to-purchase-a-business/.
My Business is Down. How Do I Identify What I Need to Do to Pivot and Rebound My Small Business?
According to Subodh Nayar, Loudoun SBDC advisor, as an established business you have some advantages over a business trying to get off the ground, but also some constraints. Being candid about those strengths and weaknesses is as important as understanding the opportunities you then have, and the threats you must address or circumvent.
Since revenues are down, any action you take must impact your “bottom line” in a reasonably short time frame, meaning planning changes that will take no more than between 15 to 45 days to either improve the product or service delivered or reduce the cost of running your business. This Agile method is critical to remain responsive to a business environment that continues to evolve.
Read the full answer by visiting here: https://loudounsbdc.com/my-business-down-down-how-do-i-identify-what-i-need-to-do-to-pivot-and-rebound-my-small-business/
Do I Qualify for a Second PPP Loan?
To qualify for a second PPP loan, you must generally meet a number of qualifications, plus:
The business may not have more than 300 employees and
The business must have at least a 25% reduction in revenues in at least one quarter in 2020 when compared to previous quarters.
Businesses with multiple locations that qualified under the CARES Act may qualify for a second draw provided they employ fewer than 300 people in each location. Affiliation rule waivers from the CARES Act still apply.
Self employed individuals and independent contractors may apply.
Read more details and get the full answer here.
How Do I Best Prepare My Business for Tax Season?
The start of the year is a good time to consider what you’ll need to have ready for tax filing deadlines in January, March and April of 2021.
To help you prepare we sat down with Clint Thomas, CPA from RKN CPAs to discuss how to close our the year and how to think ahead to prevent problems when you begin gathering information for filing taxes in the first part of the new year.
Watch the full video response by visiting here: https://loudounsbdc.com/get-ready-for-2020-taxes/
What is the Difference Between the PPP and EIDL Loan Programs, and Can I Apply for Both?
You can apply for both grants. However, you cannot “double dip” and use funds from both loan programs for the same purpose.
Read more: https://loudounsbdc.com/what-is-the-difference-between-the-ppp-and-eidl-loan-programs-and-can-i-apply-for-both/
Do I Really Need to Have a Business Plan?
According to Loudoun SBDC business advisor, Terry Saeger, the short answer is yes, but not necessarily for the reason most people think about, which is getting a loan from a bank.
You want to write a business plan for yourself, the business owner.
The business planning process forces you to think about the key aspects of your business and how each of those elements inter-relate and ultimately impact the success or failure of your enterprise. Writing a business plan should be easy once you have done the hard work of deeply understanding all the key elements of your business. The document you give to the bank, or investors, will clearly demonstrate that you have an organized and thorough understanding your business.
You can think of a business plan as a framework which forces you to imagine what you want the business to look like and where you want the business to go. What does “success” look like, how do I get there, and what are all the things I need to consider while getting to “success”.
So, do you really need to write a business plan? Successful businesses understand their markets, customers, cost structures, value propositions and a host of other factors which combined determine their success or failure. Successful business owners understand all the elements of their businesses and how manipulating one element impacts others, often in profound ways. I believe you need a business plan if you want to get the most out of your business and we at the SBDC are here to help you maximize your business’s potential.
The SBDC’s business counselors can introduce you the Business Model Canvas and the thought process involved in successfully implementing business planning concepts.
Read more here.
How do I better understand the changing CDC and Virginia COVID-19 mask policies and the impact to my business?
The CDC recently announced updated COVID-19 protocols, and states around the country, including Virginia, have followed suit. Governor Northam moved his plan to lift all capacity and social distancing restrictions up two weeks from June 15 to May 28.
He also changed Virginia’s mask guidance. The following changes went into effect at midnight Saturday, May 15:
- Virginia is lifting the universal indoor mask mandate. People who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask when indoors unless they are in one of the settings mentioned by the CDC (healthcare, public transport, correctional facilities, or homeless shelters).
- Virginia strongly recommends, but will not require, unvaccinated people to continue to wear a mask in public.
- Retail, restaurant, personal care, fitness, and entertainment workers will be required to wear a mask unless fully vaccinated.
- Businesses will have the ability to require masks for employees.
- Businesses can refuse service to customers who refuse to wear a mask.
Read more VA guidance here: https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/eo63/faq/
How can I get funding for my business?
Funding your business is the single greatest challenge for any startup, particularly in its early phases, according to Tom Solitario, Loudoun SBDC advisor. As a startup, you, likely don’t have a lot of revenue, though you do have a lot of expenses, particularly employee expenses and rental. So where can you find funding?
There are various sources of funding, including:
- Friends and family (and yourself) – this is the most common source for most startups; they are self-funded and/or they receive initial capital literally from their family and friends. The problem with this model, of course, is that you may become beholden to those family members and friends. The other problem with self-funding a business is that if the business fails then you lose the assets you’ve invested (the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve). A good rule to try to follow is to avoid investing your own money into a venture.
- Grants are a particularly attractive source of funding because there’s no payback required; particularly if you are starting a technology company. There many sources of grants, from government agencies to non-profit and philanthropic organizations. The Commonwealth of the Virginia, for example, encourages original technology startup development by providing grants to those startups. Details and advisors for these types of grants can be found at: cit.org
- Loans are the most common source of funding. This is why you need a relationship with your banker. Your banker is like a partner in your business endeavor; you should nurture a good relationship with the bank. On the other hand, banking services are a commodity; any bank can serve you. But, the smaller you are, the less attractive you are to a larger bank. Consider community banks, particularly if you are just starting. The bank will expect collateral for the loan; these are assets that you have that the bank could seize if you have problems repaying the loan. They want to minimize their risks of you defaulting on your loan. You credit score demonstrates to the bank your ability to repay your debts.
What are the steps to apply for PPP loan forgiveness?
Loudoun SBDC coaches can help you navigate the process to secure forgiveness of your PPP loan. Below are basic steps; please reach out to us with questions specific to your business.
1. Contact your PPP lender and complete the correct form. Your lender can provide you with either the SBA Form 3508, SBA Form 3508EZ, SBA Form 3508S, or a lender equivalent.
2. Compile your documentation (payroll, bank account statements, tax forms, and more)
3. Submit the forgiveness form and documentation to your PPP lender. Consult your lender for additional guidance and provide requested documentation in a timely manner.
4. Continue to communicate with your lender throughout the process. If SBA undertakes a review of your loan, your lender will notify you of the review and the SBA loan review decision. You have the right to appeal certain SBA loan review decisions. Your lender is responsible for notifying you of the forgiveness amount paid by SBA and the date on which your first payment will be due, if applicable.
Please note: Recent legislation eliminated the original requirement to deduct the amount of EIDL Advance you may have received from your PPP loan forgiveness.
Get more information about PPP loan forgiveness by visiting the SBA web site.
What is digital marketing and how can it help my business?
Mary Joynt, Loudoun SBDC Business Advisor asks you to think about everything you do on the internet on behalf of your business – website, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), digital ads, etc – this is your digital media campaign. Digital Marketing is just as important for a B2B business as it is for a B2C – maybe even more so and is critical to your communications strategy. While this may not always include ecommerce, it does and should include lead generation and thought leadership. For many, a digital marketing campaign may also include ecommerce and for others it includes lead generation and thought leadership.
No matter what you are trying to do online, having a clear understanding of where your audience is, what they want to hear, and which social media channels are best for you is critical to your campaign. That will help you know if you need to focus on Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn or Twitter or a combination of these channels. You can look at if you need to start a blog and all that entails. And you can learn how to set your posts apart from your competitors. Feeling overwhelmed by it all? Watch our webinar on Grabbing Customer Attention in a Crowded Digital World or set up a meeting with a coach.
What do I need to know to get my business HUBZone certified?
The government limits competition for certain contacts to businesses in historically underutilized business zones. It also gives preferential consideration to tohse businesses in full and open competitive. By joining the HUBZone program, your business is eligible to compete for the program’s set aside contacts. HUBZone-certificed businesses also get a 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions.
To qualify for the HUBZone program, your business must:
- Be a small business
- Be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, an Alaska Native corporation, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe
- Have its principal office located in a HUBZone
- Have at least 35 percent of its employees living in a HUBZone
Meet with a Coach
Sign up for your no-cost, one-on-one small business coaching.
News & Resources
Find resources and tools to meet the need of your small business.