I have a great idea for a business, but I don' know where to start!

The best place to start is to contact West Company! There is a lot to consider when starting a business and the biggest contributor to business failure is a lack of planning. The more you know about starting a business, the more you can plan for its success and the more you plan, the more crisis you can avoid. Since 1988, West Company has assisted over 1000 businesses to gather the right information and make sound business decisions. We can help you avoid turning your dream into a nightmare and travel a path to success.

How do I register a business name?

Before a business name is registered, the business structure must first be decided. Generally, any business that operates under a name other than the owner’s personal name, must file a Fictitious Business Name (FBN), also called a DBA (Doing Business As), with the County Recorder and publish that statement according to local statutes. Some business structures are also required to register with the Secretary of State. In addition to affecting the name registration, the choice of business structure has several other ramifications. Though not attorneys and therefore unable to give legal advice, West Company can help you understand business structure, be better prepared to choose a structure, seek legal counsel if necessary, and properly register your business.

How do I get a business license?

This depends on the type of business you wish to operate and where you plan to operate. Some businesses such as a contractor or pest control operator require a license from a State agency, such as the Contractors’ State License Board or the Structural Pest Control Board. Other businesses require a license from the Federal Government and some require licenses from both. Most though require only a business license from the local government such as a city or county government. West Company, the Mendocino Small Business Development Center, can help you determine which license you need to operate your business within required government statutes.

Can I access services from West Company if I live outside Mendocino County?

Currently, West Company’s services are available to Mendocino County. We will soon be expanding services to nearby counties. However, additional services are currently available throughout the United States through the Small Business Development Center network.

Where can I get a grant to start my business?

Though limited specialty business grants surface from time-to-time, the Small Business Administration website states, “While the SBA does offer some grant programs, these are generally designed to expand and enhance organizations that provide small business management, technical, or financial assistance. These grants generally support non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions, and state and local governments.”

Unfortunately, a lot of scams exist in the marketplace that prey on those who believe “free money” is available just for the asking or if they just submit the right plan to the right people. Do not fall prey to these scams! Most will ask for money upfront and then disappear after payment has been made. Contact West Company as we can help you prepare to seek proper and legitimate financing to start your business.

How do I get financing to start or expand a business?

Several options are available depending on the business structure one chooses. West Company helps connect entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs with potential funding sources once a business plan has been developed and written. Our consultants can help you to not only understand what a business plan is but how to navigate the maze of business plan development and creation. We can help you determine the financial feasibility of your idea before any risk is taken or money is spent. To get started, fill out the online application. We will contact you and help you find the path to success!

How much does West Company charge?

In most cases there is no charge to the recipients of West Company services. West Company is a non-profit organization funded through several government and private agency grants. Our services are not free, but those grants help us to offset costs for individuals. So give us a call or and fill out the online application today and get started with your dream business now!

Does West Company serve women AND men?

Yes! West Company serves as the Mendocino Women’s Business Center as well as the Mendocino Small Business Development Center. Our services are available to anyone in Mendocino County interested in starting OR currently operating a small business.

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West Company offers no-cost personalized business consulting to start up entrepreneurs and business owners in Mendocino County.

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