Business decisions are hard. Starting a business is a series of tough decisions with no clear right answers. You all know this. If starting a business was easy, every startup would be a success & we wouldn’t be here. To make the best decisions, you need information. After all, knowledge is power, as they say. Where can you turn for solid business information?
Good startup planning requires information. Lots of companies will say they can help you, but paid help is prohibitively expensive for most startups: That market research report? $12,000. Pay someone to write a business plan? Another 8 grand gone. Worst of all, expensive mistakes at the startup phase can destroy the entire business. So what else can clients do?
Thanks to the State Library’s DISCUS program and our county’s library budget, entrepreneurs can do startup research with the help of FREE resources at CCPL! We buy expensive resources so you don’t have to!
A business plan is an essential tool. As SCORE counselors, you can provide real world guidance, but when it comes down to it, entrepreneurs need to find some facts for themselves. CCPL has great books like the Nolo Press guide and the print & ebook Business Plans Handbook. Check out Small Business Resource Center at http://tinyurl.com/ccplbusinessdatabases. Find over 300 sample business plans, preselected searches on popular businesses and even business topics such as pricing, marketing, and more.
Market Research can be expensive if you pay someone to do it for you, but why do it when the Library’s resources are here? Best Customers, Sourcebook of ZIP Code Demographics and Household Spending can help you pinpoint who will be most likely to buy your product and where in town will you find them. Want a more in-depth profile that’s drop dead easy? Take a few minutes to use DemographicsNow. You’ll be amazed at what you can find out. This is your tax dollars hard at work!
If your client doen’t sell to consumers, but works in a B2B environment, or if you’d like to spy on your local competitors, here’s a showstopping tool for you: Reference USA. The publisher, infoUSA will sell you their data individually, but why pay for it twice? Use the Library’s subscription to build a mailing list or check out your competitors. You can even play from work! All you need for access is a CCPL library card, free for in county residents, $35 for out of county cards, which is a steal since one purchase of the data from the publishers would cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you don’t have a library card, take a few minutes and pick one up at any CCPL branch. You’ll be glad you did!
Once you get home, you’re not alone! Give us a call if you have questions. Our Reference staff is here whenever we’re open. If they can’t answer your question, they’ll consult with me & my colleague John Van Dalen and one of us will get back to you. We’re happy to help! Thank you for all you do for our local small business community!