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Entrepreneurial FAQ

Q: What is the Entrepreneurial Center?

Q: What are the charges for your services?

Q: Do I need a business plan?

Q: What can you do to help my business get financing?

Q: What do I need to get a loan?

Q:  What is an SBA Loan?

Q: Does my personal credit history affect my ability to conduct business?  What can I do to improve it?

Q: Should I get my business certified?

Q: Are there grants available for small businesses?

Q: I'm still just in the planning stages. Can the Entrepreneurial Center do anything to help me?


If you have other questions, or would like more information, contact the Entrepreneurial Center at 860.768.5681 or email entrectr@hartford.edu





A: The Entrepreneurial Center provides business training, one-on-one business advising, technical assistance and resource referrals to small businesses in CT.  As a women's business development center, we focus our programs to the needs of women business owners but our services are available to women and men from the general public.  The Entrepreneurial Center helps the University of Hartford fulfill its mission as "a private university with a public purpose".

Our services include:

§         Comprehensive entrepreneurial training

§         Business plan development

§         Business plan review

§         Market research assistance

§         Marketing assistance

§         Financial Model Development

§         Cash flow management training

§         Loan application assistance

§         Loan packaging technical assistance

§         Connecting to lenders and non-profit loan funds

§         Education about accessing capital and lending sources

§         Start-up assistance



Q: What are the charges for your services?

A: There are program fees for most of our business training and workshops. The cost of programming is highly subsidized by our resource partners, and the cost to the client represents only a percentage of the true cost of the program. There is further financial aid available for low-income Connecticut residents. Please contact us for more information regarding the fees and assistance.

The first three one-on-one counseling sessions are free-of-charge. Additional counseling sessions are $50 per session/hour; discounts available via scholarships to those who qualify based on household income guidelines.

The Entrepreneurial Center also provides technical assistance to guide clients in key areas. Technical services include: refining a business plan, profitability and cash flow forecasting, and review of financial statements; Technical assistance fees are determined on a case by case basis.


Q: Do I need a business plan?

A:  Every business needs a business plan. Writing a business plan helps you determine whether your business idea is feasible, and acts a guide for your company's future. You need a plan to give your business direction and to establish benchmarks for measuring progress. Writing a business plan will force you to think logically about your business strategy. When you're done, you'll have a realistic idea of whether you can make your business idea work and whether you really want to. If you are seeking funding from a bank or investor, they will require a complete business plan.  If an investor or lender requires a business plan before they will loan you money, shouldn't you require the same level of due diligence before you invest your own time and hard-earned money in a new venture?   

Q: What can you do to help my business get financing?

A:  The Entrepreneurial Center is not a direct lender. However, we do have a working relationship with bankers and alternative lending institutions throughout the state. We can facilitate access to capital through our technical assistance for your business.  In addition we can review your business plan, financial projections and financial request for reasonableness before you approach a lender. 

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Q: What do I need to get a loan?

A:  The main requirements for getting a small business loan are your personal credit history, business plan, experience, education and feasibility of the business you are starting or expanding. The business plan should include products and services description, marketing, management, financial assumptions and financials. The business plan needs to show the lender that providing you with a small business loan is a low-risk proposition. Your business plan must answer the following questions:

How much money do you need and what are you going to do with the money? You will have to detail the use of every dollar requested.

How will you repay the loan? You will need to convince the lender (with your financial statements and cash flow projections) that you are able to repay the loan through the expected long-term profitability of your business.

How much capital is coming from the owners?  You need to provide at least 20% of the capital needed for your project.

How will the loan help your business?                                               

What business and personal assets will be pledged to secure the loan?

What is your Strategic Plan? Describe where you want your company to be in three years, and your strategies for getting there. Describe your business' strengths and opportunities. Describe any weaknesses/threats to your plan and how you will overcome them.

The following supporting documentation may also be required:

o        Historical financials (for existing businesses) for the last 3 years

o        Bank statements for the last 3 months

o        Current profit and loss statement

o        Current balance sheet

o        Current debt schedule

o        Accounts receivable  and accounts payable aging reports

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Q: What is an SBA Loan?

A:  The SBA does not provide loans directly to small businesses.  The SBA guarantees loans made by a commercial lender (typically a local bank) to some of its borrowers. An SBA loan guarantee assures the lender that in the event the borrower does not repay the loan, the government will reimburse the lender for a percentage of its loss.  The borrower remains obligated for the full amount due.


Q: Does my personal credit history affect my ability to conduct business?  What can I do to improve it?

A:  Just as your personal credit history determines whether you qualify for a personal loan, it also affects whether you can get a business loan. Many lenders and vendors will pull your personal credit history because they know people try to use business credit to get around their poor personal credit and they may require you to personally guarantee the loans.

Before you start shopping for a loan, request a copy of your credit report from all three major reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Review it for mistakes, and resolve any discrepancies before you start the application process.

Make sure you manage your personal credit well, then as you grow your business work on establishing business credit. The following are three ways to improve your personal credit.

1.           Pay all bills on time: Recent credit history is more significant than your payment history from five to seven years ago.

2.           Pay off as much debt as possible: The wider the difference between your debt and spending limit the better it looks on your credit record.

3.           Try not to close too many credit card accounts: If you close accounts, you may hurt your credit record by reducing the difference between your debt and spending limits.

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Q: Should I get my business certified?

A: Agencies of and prime contractors to the federal, state and municipal governments together make up the largest consumer of goods and services.  Many government agencies and private corporations set aside some percentage of their procurements (purchases of products and services) for small, veteran-owned, minority-owned and women-owned businesses.  There are many types of certification for businesses which are commonly referred to as MBE (Minority Business Enterprise), SBE (Small Business Enterprise) and WBE (Women Business Enterprise). For an overview of government certification programs and contracting opportunities go to http://www.business.gov/expand/government-contracting/certification.html

State of Connecticut Certified Small or Minority Business (SBE/MBE)

Connecticut's Supplier Diversity program targets at least 25% of the state's business to be transacted with small, minority-owned and/or woman-owned businesses. A minority is a person(s) who is American Indian, Asian, Black, Hispanic, has origins in the Iberian Peninsula, a woman, or an individual with a disability.



To participate, you must talk with the Department of Administrative Services. Once certified, you can bid on contracts covered by the program as well as all other state contracts. To become a certified small or minority business enterprise, go to the Office of Supplier Diversity website: http://das.ct.gov/cr1.aspx?page=222 or contact the Supplier Diversity Program for the State of Connecticut at 860-713-5236 or at Supplier.Diversity@ct.gov

There is no formal federal certification process for minority-owned small businesses. However, certification can be helpful in winning other types of contracts. For federal procurement, you may self-certify in the Central Contractor Registration.

 

WBE Certification

 

The federal government does not require certification as a woman-owned small business.  However, certification can be helpful in winning other types of contracts. For federal procurement, you may self-certify in the Central Contractor Registration. A woman-owned business is 51% owned and controlled by one or more women.

The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) offers certification for women-owned businesses, accepted by more than 700 national corporations, as well as some state and local government agencies.

For more information on WBE contracting opportunities go to www.WomenBiz.gov

The Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (www.gnemsdc.org) offers certification to minority businesses that are 51% owned and controlled by an ethnic minority and refers them to corporate members.



 

MBE Certification

 

There is no formal federal certification process for minority-owned small businesses. However, certification can be helpful in winning other types of contracts. For federal procurement, you may self-certify in the Central Contractor Registration.

The Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (www.gnemsdc.org) offers certification to minority businesses that are 51% owned and controlled by an ethnic minority and refers them to corporate members.

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Q: Are there grants available for small businesses?

A:  We do not have information on government grants available for small business. They are rare and generally part of a matching program or focused on existing businesses in a certain geographic area. A good resource for information on government grants is on the Small Business Administration's web page, http://www.sba.gov/expanding/grants.html.

Occasionally cities and towns offer grants to micro-entrepreneurs who conduct business in their communities. You can contact the Office of Community and Economic Development in the city/town in which you live or do business to find out if your community has any grant programs.

In Connecticut there are grants for innovative technology businesses.  You can learn more about this through the Connecticut Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).  The SBIR helps the state's small high-tech companies and innovative manufacturers find and obtain grant funding from a variety of sources. For more information visit www.ctsbir.com


Q: I'm still just in the planning stages. Can the Entrepreneurial Center do anything to help me?

A:  Certainly. Many of the businesses we serve are start-ups. If you are still in the planning stages, we recommend that you schedule a free counseling session with one of our business advisors to discuss the idea and put together a plan of action to evaluate and move your business concept forward. You are also encouraged to complete the two-part workshop, Is Self-Employment for Me?  In a small group setting, the facilitator will have you consider personal issues that impact your business as well as evaluate your business concept.



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