West Points

Friday, January 17, 2014

Am I in Business?

by Heather Gurewitz
Women's Business Center Director
West Company

I’m not in business...or am I?

You don’t have to have a retail store in downtown Fort Bragg to be a business owner. Many people on the coast are “in business” and yet, they usually don’t know it.  However, if you are making a product, selling a service, or in some way taking money from someone for something that you do, you are probably in business.  There are more kinds of businesses than people realize.  A small side business that generates a few thousand dollars a year in supplemental income is still a business and many families on the coast depend on them to meet their needs.

A microbusiness is the most common business on the coast, which includes self-employed individuals. Microbusinesses have anywhere from 1-5 employees, including the owner and include retail stores, anyone offering house cleaning, gardening, or handyman services, as well as internet businesses, and consultants. It also includes crafters and food producers that sell at craft fairs and farmers markets.

In determining if you are “in business” there is a simple two-part question to ask: Do you have an employer that pays you for the work you do? If the answer is no, do you get paid for the work you do? If the answer is yes, then you are in business.

You should also determine if your business is a “hobby” business. Does it matter if you make a profit from your business? If it doesn’t matter than it is not really a business, but actually a hobby, however you are still subject to all laws, licensing, and permitting requirements as if you were in business.

 If the goal of your business is to make money to support your livelihood and you need money to survive, then you are in business and it is important to treat your time and investment as such.

Starting a business is not difficult. Anyone can fill out the paperwork at city hall, sign a lease, open a store, and sell something to someone else. However, starting a successful sustainable business, even one that seems simple is often more complicated.  There are many details that often get overlooked and can make a difference between success and failure.

West Company, as host to the Small Business Development Center and Women’s Business Center, offers a range of free business consulting services. If you are an aspiring or existing owner of a side business, service business, or even a small business, there are a number of free resources that can help you improve your income.  For more information visit www.westcompany.org.

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