Virtual Classroom

Round-the-clock information from the SBA.
This story first appeared in the May 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

For many prospective entrepreneurs, the hassle of attending a class on how to start a business just doesn't fit into a hectic schedule that might include a full-time job, family responsibilities and the numerous other duties of daily life. To compensate for this time-crunch, the SBA has made it easy for aspiring business owners to attend classes in the comfort of their own homes.

The SBA Small Business Classroom, located at http://classroom.sba.gov/xtrainx, now offers three classes: "How to Raise Capital for a Small Business," "Are You Y2K OK?" and "The Business Plan." (The latter two are available in Spanish as well as English.) All the classes are self-guided and, because they're on the SBA's Web site, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The SBA plans to add seven more classes this year, all of which will be offered in both Spanish and English.

What's In A Name?

When choosing a business name, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Choose a name that appeals not only to you but also to the kind of customers you're trying to attract.
  • To get customers to respond to your business on an emotional level, choose a comforting or familiar name that conjures up pleasant memories.
  • Don't pick a name that is long or confusing.
  • Stay away from cute puns that only you understand.
  • Don't use the word "Inc." after your name unless your company is actually incorporated.
  • Don't use the word "Enterprises" after your name; this term is often used by amateurs.

Source: Start Your Own Bbusiness (Entrepreneur Media Inc., $24.95) to order, visit http://www.entrepreneurmag.com

Evaluating Your Options

An important part of business success is a pre-start-up evaluation. Here are a few sample evaluations of different types of businesses from Starting Up: Do You Have What It Takes To Make It In Your Business? (Prentice Hall Press) by David E. Rye and Craig R. Hickman:

BUSINESS VENTURE ALTERNATIVES
MAJOR STRENGTH
MAJOR WEAKNESS
START-UP COSTS
INCOME/PROFIT/NET WORTH GOAL
TIME TO REACH GOAL
KEY TO SUCCESS
RISK RATING*

Management Consulting & Training
Ease of entry
Intense competition
$30,000
Income of $150,000 per year
3 years
Professional competence
2

Postal & Shipping Franchise
Franchise support
Heavy marketing expenses
$150,000
Profit of $200,000 per year
6 years
Customer service
4

Auto-Accessories Manufacturing
Opportunities for innovation
High capital investment
$500,000
Net worth of $10 million
10 years
Product innovation
7

Software & Multimedia Development
Explosive demand for products
Dominance of large competitors such as Microsoft
$300,000
Profit of $300,000 per year
7 years
Distribution and sales
8

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