Existing Small Business Resources
Business Networks and Entrepreneur Hot Spots
Along with the Oconee Economic Alliance, the following networks and entrepreneur hot spots can help your business to engage and connect throughout Oconee County and beyond. Visit the following links in order to see how the programs of these organizations may be the right fit for your business.
The Tri-County Entrepreneurial Development Corporation (TCEDC)
TCEDC offers expert training and on-one-one mentorship to new and existing businesses. It is a local volunteer non-profit made up of certified SCORE Mentors (Service Corps of Retired Executives) who work closely with Tri-County Tech, with Clemson SBDC, and with the Oconee Economic Alliance to support free business counseling in the community. In fact, TCEDC joins with area partners to lead a free Business Start-Up Workshop on a monthly basis. TCEDC also operates a local business incubator in Walhalla called the Oconee Business Center. For more on TCEDC, visit this page, or contact Dave Eldridge at 727.422.4459.
The Clemson Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Like TCEDC, the Clemson Regional SBDC is a critical business training and counseling resource for prospective and existing businesses in the area. Through personal and confidential consultation, SBDC consultants provide free one-on-one management and technical assistance to small business owners who wish to start, grow or maintain their businesses. The SBDC offers marketing analysis, business plan preparation, financial feasibility studies, and other valuable resources to the entrepreneur at little to no cost. SBDC also holds free and low-cost training seminars on a variety of topics throughout the region. For more information, visit the Clemson SBDC website, or contact:
Clemson Area Office
413 Sirrine Hall
Clemson, SC 29634
Tri-County Technical College (TCTC)
Tri-County Technical College in nearby Pendleton, SC offers an impressive variety of small business-focused courses. In fact, both the TCEDC and Clemson SBDC (described above) work with TCTC to provide a free Business Start-Up Workshop on a monthly basis. The workshop addresses the early steps involved in starting a business, but it is also available for those who are already in business but need to supplement their skills. The free evening program is three hours and typically begins at 5:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.. For more information, class schedules, or to register visit www.tctc.edu/smallbusiness or contact:
Tri-County Technical College – Pendleton Campus
7900 Highway 76, Pendleton, SC
Phone: 864.646.1700 or 1.866.269.5677, ext. 1700
The South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP)
SCMEP is an outstanding private, non-profit resource for small to mid-size South Carolina businesses. It helps small to mid-size companies improve their competitiveness. It provides a great deal of hands-on consulting and training services, but the core of its business improvement services is the no cost, one-day “Competitiveness Review”. For more information visit www.scmep.org.
The U.S. Small Business Administration On-Line Learning Center
Take advantage of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s free On-Line Learning Center. The Learning Center includes over 125 free on-line classes, videos, and archived educational chat sessions. Topics include business start-up, management, finance, marketing, and government contracting. This website offers as much business start-up and management training material as any on the web and is an extremely valuable free resource.
Business Compliance Info
Local Government Compliance in Oconee County
For the easiest way to learn about local permitting, zoning, and licensing processes, download the Oconee County Business Start-Up Guide. It contains the important local contacts and information you will need. This guide provides good State and Federal compliance information as well.
State of SC Compliance
Whether filing with the SC Secretary of State, the SC Department of Revenue, the SC Employment Security Commission, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, or the SC Department of Consumer Affairs, there are several areas of compliance which businesses must satisfy. Fortunately, there is a single website for completing the paper work and paying the fees: South Carolina Business One Stop (SCBOS). The following SC SBDC informational flyer explains just how much an entrepreneur can accomplish on SC BOS.
Another great resource for South Carolina business requirements is the official website of the state government: www.SC.gov. Clicking on the “Business” tab of this website opens the door to a highly comprehensive reference point on the rules and regulations that pertain to South Carolina businesses.
Federal Government Compliance
Take time to review the SC SBDC Checklist for Starting a New Business for topics like applying for Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). In matters of tax compliance and the legal structure of your business, consult with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a licensed attorney to set your business up in the right way. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure. Investing in professional help on the front end prevents entrepreneurs from making costly mistakes in the long-run.
The following resources are outstanding for exploring the topic of small business capital:
Contact the Tri-County Entrepreneurial Development Corporation and/or the Clemson Region Small Business Development Center. Both of these local partners provide expert training and mentorship on a variety of business topics, including business capital.
Dave Eldridge: 727.422.4459
Clemson Area Office
413 Sirrine Hall
Clemson, SC 29634
Consult the Oconee County Capital Matrix (download here). This locally customized matrix serves as a directory to both local and regional capital resources, including local commercial lenders, regional SBA lenders, regional Angel and Venture Capital, and more. The document also includes information on free hands-on local training and educational references.
Educate yourself through the SC Small Business Development Center website. Before you walk into a bank, educate yourself. Under the “Start a New Business” tab, click on “Financial Aspects”. You will find the following helpful documents, plus more:
— Funding Sources for Small Businesses
— What to Know and Do before Applying for a Loan
— Types of Equity Funding Sources
— Lender Requirements for Existing or Expanding Businesses
— Payroll Taxes, Workers Comp, and SC DEW
— Credit Scores
Learn how SBA financing works on the U.S. Small Business Administration website. Check out these videos and training exercises on financing in the SBA Learning Center. While it is never easy to secure a commercial loan, SBA participation in a bank loan package can sometimes get tough-to-approve applications over the hump.
Other Business Planning Tools
“Size-Up” Your Business to the Competition
The SBA Size-Up Tool is an interactive tool on the U.S. Small Business Administration website that allows you to see how your business “stacks up with the competition”. By entering some basic information into the Size-Up tool, you can (1) compare your business to your industry competitors, (2) locate/map your nearby competitors, customers, and suppliers, and (3) find good nearby areas where the supply of your product or service is not high and where you might focus some advertising. The tool is a good (and free) starting point for conducting market research.
Qualify for Government Contracts
The Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), part of the South Carolina Small Business Development Center, helps businesses find and compete for government and military contracts. PTAC counselors are trained to assist clients in becoming prime contractors or subcontractors for the federal government, branches of the military, the state of South Carolina, as well as counties, cities, special districts, colleges and universities. For more information, visit the PTAC website.
Resources for Exporting Your Product or Service
Exports out of America are increasing and with good reason: the growing middle class of consumers from across the world want American products. Have you thought about exploring international markets? There are some great resources for doing this in South Carolina. Visit the South Carolina Department of Commerce Export Services webpage to explore the topic further.
The South Carolina SBDC also offers great resources for exporting, including helpful information and hands-on professional consultation. Visit SC SBDC Exporting webpage for more information.