Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What kind of services do you offer?
The Delaware Small Business Development Center (DSBDC) provides business advisory services, training and information on a wide array of topics. Services change continually as we respond to today’s dynamic business environment. Examples include loan proposals for a business expansion, market research for business plans and detailed analysis of a business’s financial position, including comparison to industry averages. If your business needs specific help that we do not provide, such as legal or tax advice, we can provide you with information to help you make an informed decision or provide referrals to others who can help fill that specific business need.
Q: Do you have classes?
DSBDC offers and coordinates a wide-range of workshops, seminars and courses throughout the year. Pre-registration is required for all education and training events. Additionally, we offer free online training. Instruction ranges from introductory business management workshops designed for start-up businesses to advanced presentations geared to established companies. Each DSBDC office offers training events to meet the needs of businesses in their area.
Q: I think I want to start a business, what can you do to help?
There are so many things you need to consider before taking this huge step that we could spend all day, every day answering them. We have gathered some basic information on this section and elsewhere on the site and provided links to some excellent sources of information.
One of our training programs is the best way to get started. They are taught by our business advisors and cover the key points you need to know to get started. They will also outline resources that are available to help you. If you decide to proceed, we will recommend you do some research on your business idea, and will connect you with someone to help you move forward, whether it is one of our advisors or someone from another resource that will better suit your needs.
Q: What kind of business should I start?
There are a number of essential questions that you must answer when deciding what kind of business to start. First, what are the needs in the market place? Successful businesses offer a solution to a problem or are formed in response to a specific opportunity. Also, what are your own interests, background, and training? Capitalizing on your own strengths will put your business at an advantage.
Also consider what resources are available to you. The urban legend that there are grant funds available to start businesses is just that–a legend. If you start a business you will be using your personal resources and potentially a loan of some kind for which you will need to have collateral, such as a home equity. The amount of money you have to work with makes a big difference in the path that you follow.
Q: What kind of experience do your business advisors have?
Our business advisors average more than 25 years of business experience in industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to retail. They have the combination of academic credentials and practical business experience that gives them what it takes to help your business. In addition, each and every one has a rigorous professional development requirement because we cannot help your business unless we keep up on what is going on in today’s ever-changing business environment.
Q: How do I get an appointment to meet with a business advisor?
If you have never owned your own business, we strongly urge you to enroll in one of the many business start up assistance classes offered. After participating in the class, a business advisor will contact you to set up a time to meet.
If you are currently in business or have previously owned your own business, you may complete an online request to meet with an advisor or call us at 302-831-0782. We will review your information and match you with the resources that best meets your needs, whether they are at the DSBDC or at another organization. Our goal is to connect you with the assistance that is right for you.
Q: Will my advisor write my business plan for me?
Although your advisor will not write your business plan for you, he or she will assist you in researching, editing and revising your plan. There are also many outlines, templates, websites, and books on the subject. The SBA also offers information about writing a business plan.
Q: I want to buy a franchise—can you help me with that?
Yes. A franchise is just one of the many unique business models that our advisors are trained to offer you assistance in acquiring. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also offers more information.
Small Business Financing
Q: Is it hard to get a business loan? How long does it take?
It is not easy to get a business loan. The ease with which you acquire one will depend on numerous factors such as your credit, experience, collateral and business model. Having an advisor assist you in preparing your loan package will not guarantee you are successful in getting a business loan but it will help assemble the information a bank needs in order to make a decision. It can take from a few weeks to a few months to complete the process.
Q: Does the SBDC loan money?
The DSBDC does not loan money, but we work closely with local banks and lending agencies and can help you evaluate the available options. We also help clients put together the documentation needed to acquire a loan.
Q: How can I get a grant to start my business?
There are no grants available to start your business.
Q: How do I get a loan from the SBA?
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs are designed to encourage commercial lenders to make loans to business owners and entrepreneurs. The SBA does not make direct loans, but they have a number of loan guarantee programs that can be very beneficial to businesses. Please contact us for assistance; our staff of highly trained business advisors is familiar with the SBA programs as well as with the policies of local banks and lenders.
Q: How do I get a loan from a commercial bank?
To apply for a loan from a commercial bank, you must assemble a loan package; our advisors can assist you in this process. The SBA offers a Business Loan Application Checklist.
Q: How do I determine which kind of entity my business should be? Should I incorporate my business?
This is a complex question, in order to make a decision you should seek both legal and accounting advice. Our advisors can help you sort through the major topics and assemble pertinent questions so you are prepared for these discussions. The State of Delaware offers general information on the different types of business entities.
Q: What kind of insurance do I need in order to start my own business?
There are no mandatory business insurance requirements unless you have employees, in which case you will need unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation. There are a number of recommended insurances including business liability insurance to should consider.
Q: Do I need to hire an accountant when I start my business?
You do not have to hire an accountant when you start a business. However, unless you have an extensive financial background, it is highly recommended that you have access to an accountant at least on a contract or part-time basis. An accountant can help you set up a system to gather financial information and then assist you in interpreting the valuable information provided in your financial statements. There are quite a number of tax related issues that you will need to address, so getting some professional help can save you time and avoid what can be very costly mistakes.
Q: I am starting my own business. At what point do I need to obtain a business license?
Legally, you do not need a business license until you first begin to collect revenue. We recommend waiting to obtain a business license until you have created a legal name, written a business plan and found appropriate sources of funding.
Q: Are there any other licenses I need to obtain before I start my business?
Each industry has its own specific requirements. Your business advisor will go over the licenses you need based on the type of business that you are starting. There are businesses and professions that require additional licenses in Delaware.
Also check with your town or city to see if they have any licensing requirements. If yours will be a home based business, you will need to check with the town/city or county in which you reside to see what restrictions there may be. Visit the SBA’s website for more information about which permits and licenses you will need.
Q: I thought of a great name for my business. How do I find out if I can use it? How do I keep others from copying it?
If your business is a sole proprietorship in Delaware, you will need to go to your local Prothonotary’s Office and search the Trade, Business, and Fictitious Names Database. If you are running a different type of business, you will need to visit the Delaware Division of Corporations and reserve your name.
Q: Are there any other licenses I need to obtain before I start my business?
Business entities and non-profits are very different things that exist for different purposes. The Non-Profit Information Guide contains more information on what a nonprofit corporation is and how to form one.
Support / Partnerships / Affiliations
Q: Are you part of the Small Business Administration (SBA)?
We are not a part of the Small Business Administration. DSBDC is funded by the SBA to provide assistance to businesses in Delaware.
Q: I have heard people mention SCORE. What does SCORE stand for? What do they do?
SCORE, or Service Corps of Retired Executives, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow and succeed nationwide. SCORE is another SBA resource partner, which has been mentoring small business owners for more than forty years. SCORE also provides local and online workshops and offers a good collection of resources, templates and tools online. There is a local SCORE chapter in Delaware.
Q: Do you have a list of lawyers, accountants or other professionals to which you refer people?
We do not offer a comprehensive list, but our advisors can help you evaluate professionals based on how their specialties fit your needs.
Q: Do you work with any local banks?
Our advisors stay in touch with the area’s major commercial and public sector lenders. Part of our assistance in helping businesses through the process of obtaining financing is helping match your business needs with the resources that will be the best fit for you and your business.
Q: Do you know of any business incubators?
Yes. If you are in the northern part of the state, consider the New Castle Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Enterprise Center, which offers assistance to small businesses in New Castle County and the greater Wilmington region. Delaware State University in Dover has a food business incubator.
Q: Where can I find information about the latest business statistics and data?
Keeping an eye on the latest business statistics and data, such as consumer statistics, employment statistics and demographics, can help ensure that your business is operating in line with your competitors and other industries.