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// by Rieva Lesonsky / Dec. 29, 2015 0 comments

We all know there are lots of things that small businesses do better than big ones. However, I was a bit surprised to find that one of those things is hiring a diverse workforce. A new study by the Small Business Majority reveals that, overall, small businesses are doing a great job of hiring ethnically diverse entry-level employees.

Small-business hiring practices are important, because small businesses account for 99 percent of U.S. businesses, and about 56 million employees. Here's some of what the study found:

Seven out of 10 small businesses surveyed have at least one female employee, 24 percent employ at least one Hispanic employee, and 18 percent have at least one African-American employee on staff. In addition, 8 percent employ at least one employee with a disability, 6 percent have at least one American Indian or Alaskan native employee, and 5 percent employ at least one Asian or Pacific Islander employee. About one-fourth report they also have at least one other non-white employee.

These stats are especially impressive considering that the majority (74 percent) of respondents are located in rural or suburban areas, and that 88 percent have 10 or fewer employees. In general, the larger a small business is, the more likely it was to have a more diverse workforce, the survey found.

But there's still some room for improvement. The statistics above reflect entry-level employees only; when it comes to upper-level workers, staffs are less diverse. Among the staff beyond entry-level, 35 percent are women, 9 percent are African-American, 8 percent are Hispanic, 6 percent have a disability, 2 percent are American Indian or Alaska natives, 1 percent are Asian Pacific Islanders, and 6 percent are members of another non-white minority group.

Why is increasing hiring diversity important? Incorporating different kinds of people into your team gives you broader perspectives on everything from marketing and management to new product or service ideas. It's human nature to feel comfortable with those who are similar to us, so it's commendable that so many entrepreneurs are already hiring relatively diverse teams.

Ethnicity and gender aren't the only types of diversity we should be considering. Hiring employees in different age groups, from Gen Z on up to seniors, can also help your business gain depth and profit from different generations’ different skills and outlooks. I was also happy to see that employees with disabilities are represented in the survey, as these individuals often struggle to find employment. More and more big companies are recognizing the value that employees with all types of disabilities can bring to the table. For example, SAP and Microsoft have both started programs to recruit employees on the autism spectrum, whose special skills are often a great fit with technology work.

Nearly one-third (29 percent) of small business owners in the survey say they plan to increase the diversity of their upper-level employees in the next few years. How can you join them?

  • Look beyond your traditional sources of job candidates. Make it a point to reach out to people outside your general social circle and to share job openings on sites or with organizations that cater to minority, female or disabled workers. If you normally only recruit entry-level employees from local colleges, consider reaching out to organizations that cater to stay-at-home moms or retirees — both of these demographic groups are often seeking part-time employment
  • Encourage employees on your team to recruit their friends and acquaintances. Diverse entry-level employees who reach out to others in their social circles will likely bring more diverse job candidates into your orbit.
  • Consider recruiting outside your immediate local area. For example, since urban areas are often more diverse than rural or suburban locations, you may want to reach out to nearby cities if you're seeking a more diverse pool of job candidates.

America has always been a melting pot, and today it's becoming ever more diverse. Just as diversity is our country's strength, so too can it strengthen your small business.

Something else that can strengthen your small business: getting consulting and advice from SCORE. SCORE’s experienced mentors are a diverse group, and you can find someone in their ranks to help with whatever small business issue you’re facing. Visit the SCORE website to learn more.  

Rieva Lesonsky
Columnist and CEO
GrowBiz Media

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva

// by Rochelle Robinson / Dec. 28, 2015 0 comments
Starting Your Own Business

There are many reasons that people choose to become small business owners. The reasons vary from financial possibilities to a lack of job opportunities. Whatever the reason, it takes a lot of time, energy, and sacrifice to become a successful small business owner.

Here’s a list of five questions to ask yourself before you take a leap at starting your own business:

1. Why do you want to start a small business?
Think long and hard about why you want to start your own business. Is it for financial prosperity, a more flexible schedule, or greater creative control? Understand that you will be responsible for marketing, accounting, inventory, sales, and doing all of the work in the beginning. Make sure you’re up for the challenge.

2. Are you self-motivated?

Plain and simple, running a small business requires more time and effort than a traditional 9-to-5 job. Think about the amount of time away from family and friends because you have to work on your business, even on days when you may be tired and unmotivated.

3. Are your finances in order?
When you work for yourself, there is typically no sick leave when you catch the flu. Can your clients go without while you recuperate? Will you be financially devastated if you lose a week of productivity? Think about how you are going to pay your bills if a client is late with a payment or unable to pay at all.

4. How will you get clients?
Many people are so focused on the logistics of starting up a new business that they fail to plan for one the most important part – clients. Where will you get new clients? Who is willing to spend money on your service or product? If you can’t make a definite list of three ways to obtain clients, you may want to reconsider. This should be included in your business plan.

5. Where is your business plan?

A business plan is critical to the success of a sustainable business. It’s essential to develop a realistic, comprehensive plan to understand your business and determine how to reach success. A business plan is often referred to as the road map for your business because it helps determine the operations, marketing, and financial considerations to make your business profitable.

Proper planning and hard work are key elements to small business success. Make sure your idea of being a small business owner matches reality. The journey is long and hard, but the rewards of being a small business owner may be worth it for you to live your dream life.

Rochelle Robinson
Business and Wealth Advisor
WealthSide Capital
Rochelle Robinson is a business & wealth advisor serving as a CEO of WealthSide Capital, a pioneer in business and financial management services and Managing Editor of, a leading interactive financial empowerment community. Rochelle is focused on small business solutions, personal finance management, and achieving financial freedom through wealth creation. | @robuildswealth | More from Rochelle 
// by Canon / Dec. 23, 2015 0 comments
Debt vs. Equity

If you are seeking financing to start your new business, it's important to understand the difference between the two basic types of financing: debt and equity. Here's a closer look.

Debt financing is the type of financing that most of us are already familiar with from daily life. When you take out a home mortgage loan, obtain a loan to buy a car, or purchase something using a credit card, you are using a form of debt financing. Basically, debt financing means an individual or organization is lending you money that you must pay back with interest at a future date.

Equity financing is an investment, rather than a loan. In equity financing, an individual or organization gives you money in return for a share of ownership in your business. Equity financing may come from a variety of sources, including individual investors, venture capital firms, or even the general public if you take your business public and begin selling stock in your company. However, at the startup stage, equity financing will typically come from individuals such as your friends and family or angel investors.

Here are some of the pros and cons of equity financing.

  • Pro: You will not have immediate loan payments to make, which is helpful for a business startup that needs to conserve its existing capital.
  • Con: Obtaining equity financing requires giving up a share of your business. Even if you still own the majority of the company, you will have to answer to investors who expect a return on their investment.
  • Pro: In addition to capital, equity investors often bring experience, connections and know-how that can help your startup grow.
  • Con: In a worst-case scenario, equity financing could ultimately result in you losing control of your business and being ousted by investors who don't agree with how you are running things.
  • Con: Equity capital is not open to all types of businesses. Investors typically seek a good return on their investment, which means they are more likely to finance businesses in high-growth industries such as technology or healthcare and than to finance "Main Street" businesses.

Here are some of the pros and cons of debt financing.

  • Pro: Once the loan is paid off, you are free and clear of any obligation to the lender, and the lender has no control over how you run your business.
  • Con: When you take on debt financing, you will immediately owe regular payments, which can range from daily payments to monthly payments depending on the type of loan. This will take away from the available capital you have to run your business.
  • Pro: Debt financing is available in a wide variety of forms, including short and long-term loans, inventory and equipment loans, accounts receivable loans, guaranteed loans and even personal loans.
  • Con: If you fail to pay back the loan, or make late payments, it can hurt your business and/or personal credit rating, making it more difficult to get financing in the future. If you have put up collateral for the loan, you may lose your collateral.
  • Pro: Successfully paying off your loan will build your business credit rating and can make it easier to get loans or credit in the future.

Before deciding whether debtor equity financing is right for you, carefully consider:

  • How much control you are comfortable giving up to outsiders
  • How confident you are in your financial projections and your ability to rapidly make a profit
  • Whether you need advice and guidance in starting your business, or simply need capital

A SCORE mentor can help you decide which type of financing is best for your business and guide you to possible sources of both debt and equity capital.

SCORE Corporate Patron
Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. Committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, Canon provides 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. | @CanonUSA | More from Canon


// by Rieva Lesonsky / Dec. 22, 2015 0 comments

How are you feeling about the prospects for your business in the year ahead? There's plenty of reason to be optimistic, from new technologies that are making life easier to a steadily improving economy. As an entrepreneur, the power to make 2016 your best business year ever is within your grasp. Here are five steps that will help take your business to new heights in the New Year.

1. Take advantage of technology. Sophisticated technology, from hardware to apps, is increasingly within reach of even the smallest business. In 2016, spend some time investigating new technologies available in your industry that could help you run a better business. Yes, it can be hard to keep up—but it's important to stay informed about tools that enable you to compete, and to set aside an adequate budget to update your technology.

2. Put your finances in order. I can't tell you how many small business owners I run into who admit that they don't know much about accounting. As a result, their bookkeeping is a mess and they consistently run into cash flow problems. Even if you hire someone else to manage day-to-day bookkeeping, it's vital that you understand the basics of how money comes into and goes out of your business. There are many courses you can take to get familiar with this—it’s time well spent.

3. Get help. Are you trying to do everything yourself—or trying to do too much with too few people? Make 2016 the year you finally get some (or more) help. There are so many options available now for how small business owners can hire, including full-time or part-time workers, interns, temporary employees, virtual workers or outsourcing to independent contractors. No matter what your budget or needs, I guarantee there’s someone out there who's a perfect fit.

4. Build your customer base with marketing. Review the marketing strategies you used in 2015. Which ones worked, and which ones didn't? Are there new types of marketing you want to add in 2016, such as social media, online videos, referral-based marketing or event marketing? Does your business brand need a makeover? What about your website (you do have one, right)? Is it mobile-friendly? Sit down and develop a marketing plan going forward, including a budget and marketing calendar.

5. Plan for the future. Where do you want your business to be at the end of 2016? You won't get there without a plan. Create realistic goals for sales growth, new product or service lines, market expansion, new hires or whatever else your heart is set on. Then break each goal down into the steps you'll need to achieve it. While you're at it, don't forget about planning for your future. Do you have a retirement plan for yourself and/or your employees? Retirement plans exist for even one-person businesses, so there's no excuse for not setting one up today.

Your SCORE mentor can help you plan for all of these things, and make 2016 your best business year ever. Don't have a mentor yet? Visit to get matched up with one and get free business advice 24/7.

Rieva Lesonsky
Columnist and CEO
GrowBiz Media

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva

// by Jeanne Rossomme / Dec. 21, 2015 0 comments
Email Marketing or Marketing Automation System

I am sure you are constantly hearing about the amazing benefits of marketing systems.  Great vendors such as Hubspot, Marketo, MailChimp and Constant Contact (to name a few) supply loads of information, webinars, checklists and calculators on how these tools will increase your sales and your customer good will.  They are not wrong – the problem is that the material glosses over the real labor involved in obtaining or switching marketing systems.

Over the years I have found that adopting a new marketing system is like having a child.  You need to plan on 9 months of gestation to form your requirements and select a vendor.  Birth itself can be painful as you negotiate contracts and set up data collection.  Then you need to plan on a newborn phase of several months of constant care in set up and training.  Finally, your new child will be living in your house for many years to come – with all the joys and disappointments.

So think of this article as a bit of “what to expect…”

First let me define the different terms used by vendors.  In essence you want a system that communicates with prospects and then with customers, nurturing your relationship in the most personal, yet efficient way possible.  Email marketing systems focus interactions related to email while marketing automation software looks at tracking prospect/customers behavior across the digital landscape (email, website and even social media).

There are many articles on feature list comparison and user reviews.  Here is a good one from a non-vendor  My hope here is to provide you with the total costs in terms of time and talent requirements so you can make a decision that works for your company.

  • Marketing Software Cost:  Most companies set this up as a monthly recurring fee plus a fee for volume or usage.  Like your cell phone company, look at overages and other expenses – they can be a killer.
  • Your Web technical resources:  You will need a programmer to tie the marketing system with your website and any other customer systems.  This cost can be substantial.  Think about what you want to track and then have your IT resource put together a budget of what they need to do to get that done.  And pay to have that person involved throughout the process as they will be able to weed through the specs to tell you what the system really can and cannot do.
  • Content creation.  Sending the right content at the right time to the right person is everyone's goal but each custom interaction requires custom content.  Do you have the existing content to do this?  Who will curate and assign content to each customer segment?  Who will create fresh content moving forward? 
  • Design: And don’t forget graphic design both for your email template creation but also your blog posts, social media, etc.  Effective client communications are much more visual than text oriented.
  • Training.  Any new system requires training by members of your marketing team.  The more complicated the system, the more training it requires - a lesson I unfortunately learned years ago.  We bought a flexible and powerful email marketing system, but I was the only one who understood how to set up the logic rules and customer segments.  What a bottleneck!  Make sure you have multiple people trained and the vendor support to bring in new staff in the future.
  • Metrics and reporting.  At the end of the day you want to know if a given marketing campaign actually worked, so you need the ability to extract, summarize and report important data.
  • Growth potential:  As mentioned above you will be living with this decision for several years.  What do you see happening down the road?  Will this system allow you to grow or at least have an open architecture so you can bolt on other systems later on?
  • Support:  It is very important to go with a company that has excellent technical support.  This will not be your nice sales person but the tech support staff that works in a dark room.  They need to understand the ins and outs of their system and yours.  Remember that this system can literally be akin to shutting the doors of your business if it is down. Check user reviews and have your tech resource also involved.
Jeanne Rossomme
RoadMap Marketing

Jeanne uses her 20 years of marketing know-how to help small business owners reach their goals. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she held a variety of marketing positions with DuPont and General Electric. Jeanne regularly hosts online webinars and workshops in both English and Spanish. | @roadmapmarketin | More from Jeanne

// by Bridget Weston Pollack / Dec. 18, 2015 0 comments
Bad Ash Personal Training and Nutrition

After years of working at a conventional gym, Ashley Morgan was frustrated. She realized there were no weight loss personal training studios in her area focused on women.

Instead of waiting for someone else to open a gym, Morgan started training women in her backyard in 2013. “All I knew when I started is that I wanted to scratch an itch that a lot of people had – including myself,” Morgan says.

She had an educational background in nutrition and plenty of experience as a personal trainer, but business was a whole new world.

“I never learned about marketing, sales funnels, buyer behavior, SEO, permits, business insurance, accounting, creating a niche market, managing employees, or any of the other responsibilities that come along with owning a business,” Morgan admitted.

But with a little help from SCORE, Morgan has grown her business from her backyard to a 2,000-square-foot studio with employees and dozens of clients. Bad Ash Personal Training and Nutrition focuses on healthy weight loss and nutrition techniques and habits. Morgan specializes in breaking through weight-loss plateaus, and she even offers a Mommy and Me fitness program to help busy new mothers keep up with their fitness routines.

Learning where to start with SCORE

“I got a SCORE mentor because I was completely confused and overwhelmed when I started my business,” Morgan says. “It seemed like there was too much to learn and I didn't know where to start.”

She worked with mentor Jimmy Fraggos to prioritize the actions to take in the early stages of her business. She also attended online workshops about marketing and networking.  “I learned about the power of an email list and social media marketing as well as how to approach the right people to make sure I have good connections all the time,” Morgan said.

As her relationship with Fraggos grew, Morgan found she was getting more than she first bargained for. “I originally sought out a mentor to help me create a business plan,” Morgan said. “My mentor has helped me write a business plan, learn to budget and has even just listened to me complain about the challenges of running a business from time to time.”

Having a confidant has kept her humble, too. “Don't take criticism the wrong way,” she advised potential new business owners. “Your mentor is there to challenge your idea to make sure it will hold up. Leave your ego at the door because your early business plan is probably full of holes.” 

Finding success – and learning experiences

“I’ve been profitable in my first two years of operation,” Morgan reveals. “Not a lot of new business owners can say that.” She credits much of that success to her time spent planning her business with her SCORE mentor.

But the journey hasn’t been challenge-free. “I’ve had a lot of ‘failures’ – learning experiences – while growing this business,” Morgan says. To work through those challenges, Morgan keeps her eyes on her major goals. “All the stuff in between will sort itself out as long as you keep asking the right questions and taking action.”

Find a SCORE mentor who will challenge your idea and help your small business succeed. To learn about workshops offered near you, search our online database for your closest SCORE chapter.  

Bridget Weston Pollack
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.
// by OnDeck / Dec. 17, 2015 0 comments
Cash Flow

Cash flow is the life-blood that keeps a business alive. In fact, it’s not altogether uncommon for a profitable business to fail because they don’t have adequate cash flow. It can also handicap, or even prevent you from borrowing capital to fund a growth project, purchase needed equipment, or overcome another need for additional funds.

Lenders want to know you have the means to repay a loan before they give it to you. Unlike an investor, who is usually willing to wait for a liquidity event sometime in the future to earn his or her return, a lender wants to make sure you can make the first scheduled periodic payment and every subsequent payment after that. What’s more, they want to make sure you have the cash flow to make those payments whether or not the anticipated ROI from the loan pans out.

In today’s world of weekly or daily debits from a business bank account to make loan payments, many lenders not only want to know that you have good cash flow, they want to make sure you have the right kind of cash flow. What does that mean?

If the majority of your cash flow can be attributed to a few big deposits at the end of every month, your overall finances may be healthy, but it might disqualify your business for a loan that requires an ACH debit on a daily or a weekly basis. In that case, the lender wants to see a daily cash flow that will accommodate the more frequent, albeit smaller, periodic payments. That’s why a lender may want to see several months of bank statements—they want to verify that you maintain an average daily balance that will allow you to make the regular periodic payments.

Creating the Right Kind of Positive Cash Flow

Profits and cash flow are two different things. You can’t look at your profit and loss statement and get a good understanding of your cash flow. A small business can look profitable on a P&L and not have any cash available on a daily basis. For example, if your account normally has a $5,000 to $8,000 balance at the end of the month, a lender might question your ability to make $4,500 in loan payments during the month. That $5,000 balance is cutting it a little close and leaves very little for unexpected expenses that might need attention during the month.

It’s how you manage your accounts receivables, how you manage your inventory, your accounts payable, any loan payments you might already have, and any other regular expenditures, that really impact your cash flow situation. You need cash to generate profits, pay your employees, make loan payments, and cover other costs on time.

The best way to create a positive cash flow is to ask a couple of important questions:

  1. What does my cash flow look like now? What is my cash balance every day?
  2. What do I expect it to be six months from now?

If you can’t answer these two questions, you could be in trouble—at the very least, you have some work to do. Take the time every week, or at least every month, to track your cash flow to determine how much cash you have in your account every day, every week, every month. This will help you determine whether or not you have the available cash flow to service a debt and if you can support a daily, weekly, or monthly periodic payment.

If you can demonstrate to a lender that you have the ability to make regular and timely loan payments, it will not only improve your odds of success when applying for a loan, it will give you the confidence of knowing your business is in a position to appropriately borrow to help your business grow.

by Ty Kiisel
SCORE Corporate Patron
Ty Kiisel contributes to the SCORE blog from OnDeck. OnDeck offers business loans and business lines of credit to small businesses across the United States. OnDeck analyzes businesses differently than traditional lenders, which means that they can make more loans than traditional lenders, and they can fund businesses within hours or days – not weeks or months.
// by Canon / Dec. 16, 2015 0 comments
Starting Business

Starting a business after age 50 involves many of the same considerations as any startup. You’ll need to develop a business plan, find financing and make your first sale. However, there are also some special issues to keep in mind.

What’s your goal? Are you starting a business to supplement your income after retirement? Do you want to turn a longtime lifestyle dream (such as starting a winery) into a business and finally have the capital to do so? Or have you been laid off from a job and need to generate your own full-time income? Whether your business is something you’re doing for fun, or you urgently need the income, will affect your startup decisions.

What’s your big idea? Many people over 50 fantasize about turning a hobby, such as pottery, baking or photography, into a business. A hobby can be an ideal foundation for a business you’ll be passionate about. However, it’s also important to make sure that there’s a market for what you want to do, and not let your excitement blind you to reality.

Another popular niche for over-50 entrepreneurs is turning your career experience into a business. For example, a former executive could start consulting to corporations in her old industry. A former magazine editor could begin developing online content for clients. In some cases, you may even be able to target your former employer or its customers as prospects. (First make sure you aren’t breaking any non-compete contracts.)

Providing convenience services for consumers can also be a good niche for a part-time business. For example, you might want to provide in-home childcare, pet grooming or landscaping services.

Last, but not least, consider online businesses. Starting a Web-based business helps keep your costs down and enables you to run the business from home. You can sell products online via your own website or on eBay, or set up a Web store on Amazon or Etsy (which focuses on handmade and crafts items).

What’s your risk tolerance? A twenty-something can start a business, fail and still have plenty of time to start over again. But when you’re over 50, your tolerance for financial risk is lower. Carefully assess how much you are willing to invest (and possibly lose).

How much time do you have? How quickly do you want to get your business up and running, and how much time and energy do you have to invest in it? Keep in mind that startups are time-consuming, and at 50-plus you don’t have the energy of a 20-year-old for all-nighters.

Buying an existing business or a franchise opportunity can be a smart way to go when you’re over 50, because getting either up to speed takes less time and energy than building a business from scratch. There are many franchises that specifically seek retired executives with business experience, and you can also find low-cost franchises for less than $20,000. Just make sure to do your homework and due diligence before making an investment in a franchise or existing company.

What do you want for your future? At 55, you may be content to put 60 hours a week into your business, but how will you feel when you’re 65 or 70? What if your spouse retires in five years and wants to start traveling six months of the year?

Try to start a business that can run without you so that you’ll have the flexibility to take time off if you want to. A business that relies solely on you doesn’t have longevity you will need to pass it on to heirs or sell it for retirement income. Taking on a younger partner can help you get more flexibility in your business and also give you the perspective of a different generation.

Where will the money come from? Tapping your retirement savings to start a business is almost always a bad idea. If the business fails, you’ve not only lost your business, but also your nest egg.

If you don’t have lots of startup capital, figure out ways to start your business more affordably. For example, instead of opening a pottery shop that requires a retail space, employees and ongoing rent, you can open an online Etsy shop to sell your pottery. Instead of opening an accounting office, run your business from home and meet clients at their offices.

Where can I get help? One of the biggest advantages 50-plus entrepreneurs have is their network of contacts developed over a lifetime. Don’t be afraid to tap into friends, colleagues and contacts of all types to get advice, assistance and referrals. Most people are only too happy to help. 

SCORE Corporate Patron
Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. Committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, Canon provides 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. | @CanonUSA | More from Canon


// by Rieva Lesonsky / Dec. 15, 2015 0 comments
Millennial Entrepreneur

In recent years, the face of entrepreneurship—especially high-tech entrepreneurship—has been a young one. Twenty-something business founders have been a hallmark of the tech world since back in the day when Google launched; today, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel and other fresh-faced entrepreneurs seem to symbolize American can-do.

But is the younger generation changing its mind about entrepreneurship? In a new Harvard poll of Americans aged 18 to 29, only 31 percent say starting their own business is “very important” or “one of the most important things in your life.” In comparison,(53 percent say having a stable job (even if it’s a dull one) is very important or “one of the most” important things in their lives.

So what do Millennials care about more than starting their own businesses? Well, 60 percent say that being successful in a high-paying career is either very important or one of the most important things in their lives

While 58 percent say having a job that benefits society is either very important or one of the most important things in their lives, Millennials in the survey understand that businesses can be socially responsible too. Just 22 percent would prefer to work for a nonprofit or for the government, compared to 50 percent who would prefer to work for a for-profit business.

What really tops Millennials’ list of the most important things in life: having time to spend with friends and family. A whopping 59 percent of survey respondents say this is one of the most important things in their lives, while another 26 percent say it's very important.

Perhaps knowing how intensely startup founders have to work during their businesses’ first years of life is deterring young Americans from wanting to start their own companies. Consider: Just 16 percent of survey respondents say they would like to work in a fledgling company, while 54 percent would prefer to work for an established firm. Or maybe they just aren't that impressed by the young entrepreneurs often promoted as role models. Only 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively, cited Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk (Tesla founder) as people they admire.

Or perhaps it's the hefty amounts of student loan debt they're dealing with that make well-paying jobs and stability seem so appealing. Having come of age during the Great Recession may make entrepreneurship seem a bit too risky for a generation that's already struggling to gain a foothold in adult life.

One interesting exception to the survey rules: The percentage of African American and Hispanic Millennials who say starting their own business is important to them was double that of whites. Half of African-Americans and 43 percent of Hispanics say starting their own business is very important or one of the most important things in their lives, compared with 24 percent of whites.

Will the next generation of young entrepreneurs exhibit a more diverse face than the generation currently getting all the publicity? The answer remains to be seen.

If you’re a Millennial seeking to start your own business, SCORE can help. Visit to get free online mentoring 24/7. 

Rieva Lesonsky
Columnist and CEO
GrowBiz Media

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva

// by SBA / Dec. 14, 2015 2 comments

Starting a non-profit can be an extremely rewarding entrepreneurial experience. A non-profit gives you the ability to give back to your community and really make a difference unlike any other industry. But starting a charity or nonprofit organization is just like starting a for-profit business. And just like starting a for-profit business, there are steps that you need to take to ensure that you are successful.  Here are some tips to consider before you start and some points on generally how to start a business.

Have a Plan and Do Your Homework

When starting a non-profit organization you have to ask yourself a few initial questions:

  • What is my objective?
  • Who am I trying to reach?
  • Do I have the resources to achieve this goal? 
  • What is my timeline?

As you begin the process of documenting your idea, mission, and vision as well as the formation path of your non-profit consider investing a good amount of time in the beginning writing a detailed business plan.  This is an important step because you will need parts of your business plan to include in your federal Form 1023 application for tax-exemption status and future fundraising. 

One of the critical elements of your business plan to determine is your initial startup costs and your future operating costs. Some of your initial startup costs may include:

State Filing Costs

You can find some information on this chart that illustrates the costs necessary to file in each state.  To determine what you may need be sure to visit your state association of nonprofits and speak with a legal counsel that is familiar with nonprofits.  

Incorporate Your Nonprofit & Establish Governance 

Nonprofits cannot escape the paperwork that is required in starting a business and may even require a few extra steps to obtain a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. This will be where most of your time will be focused on in the beginning. To make the process to incorporation easier and getting to 501(c)(3) faster here is a checklist:

Pick a creative and relevant name. This is important because it will be your brand, your rally cry and your identifier. Make sure whatever you choose is available by doing a name search with your Secretary of State or through nonprofit search engines

Assemble a Board of Directors. This group is very important and requires a large commitment by them because they will be legally accountable to help your organization meet its vision and mission. The requirements set upon them are different state to state, so be sure to check with your Secretary of State.

Draft your bylaws with your Board of Directors guidance. This will be your operator’s manual for your nonprofit. You will need to have a copy of this on premise at your office on record for filing your Articles of Incorporation and will need to submit these when applying for your federal tax-exemption. 

Decide on a Legal Structure. Below is a list of potential legal structures to consider. Be sure talk with legal counsel and your accountant to determine what will best work for you.

Prepare & File Articles of Incorporation. This is done with the State your nonprofit is headquartered in and some of the information that you will need includes:

  • Purpose of organization
  • Name of Initial directors
  • Name of incorporator 
  • Name and address of registered agent
  • Statement membership

Get your Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can obtain your EIN by filing out IRS Form SS_4. This can be done online at the IRS EIN Online page. 

Get your 1023 Federal Tax-Exemption to get 501(c)3 Status. Next, you will want to do all your research to figure out if your nonprofit is eligible for any tax exemptions. What you need to include when filing for your 501(c)3 Status: 

  • Certified copy of certificate of formation from your state
  • Copy of bylaws
  • Details pro forma financial statements, including revenue and expense statement for current and three preceding fiscal years
  • Proposed budgets for the next two fiscal years; including a list of anticipated financial support
  • Narrative description of past, present and future planned activities with an emphasis on broad public benefit of organization’s activities
  • Names and addresses of director and officers
  • Annual accounting period (what is your fiscal year)
  • Statement as to whether the org is claiming status as a private foundation or public charity
  • EIN
  • Fee of $400 or $840

Finally register for Charitable Solicitation and Fundraising. Many states require this registration prior to soliciting funds or hiring solicitors. 

U.S. Small Business Administration

The SBA is an independent federal agency that works to assist and protect the interests of American small businesses. The agency delivers the answers, support and resources small businesses need to start-up, grow and succeed through district offices throughout the U.S. and a network of resource partners including SCORE. | Facebook | @SBAgov | More from the SBA