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Wyoming Business Tips for May 29-June 4


May 23, 2011 —  A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Mark Atkinson, WSBDC regional director

"I don't have a business degree and know there are skills I need to develop to be successful in business. What are some of those skills and how and where can I develop them?" Bob, Casper

Starting with what skills needed should be an overview of business administration and basic accounting.

Ideally, you would take some classes at the excellent community colleges or the University of Wyoming to really be serious about the venture and receive a needed education. But there are other less time-consuming options.

One is our own SBDC SmallBizU (small business university) that offers online, business mini-courses. They are free and each takes about two hours to complete. Visit the website at http://www.smallbizu.org/coursecatalog.htm. You may take several courses that are categorized by Money, Management, and Marketing.

Another option that should be taken by an aspiring entrepreneur in Wyoming is the creation of a business plan -- a document required by lenders and investors. It also is a mental, learning journey that even veteran entrepreneurs say they are surprised by how much it teaches them.

The business plan template will systematically ask questions, guiding you to think through most, if not all, major considerations of starting and operating a business. You will learn a great deal going through this process. The process, by the way, takes about six months when done properly. The SBDC has templates to use and business counselors to provide research information and explain what should go where on the plan if the terminology is unclear.

Finally, here are some ideas on what you should be able to do with a computer before getting too serious about starting a business. Start with powerful email software such as Microsoft Outlook. This program allows much more than using email. A calendar function lets you keep track of important deadlines and meetings, and you can send appointments to others.

Other significant software is QuickBooks, or a similar product like Peachtree. Learning QuickBooks also is a way to gain a basic understanding of accounting, although it does not take the place of an accounting class. We have a CPA (certified public accountant) on staff that specializes in QuickBooks. Visit the website for more information at www.uwyo.edu/sbdc/start_a_business/quickbooks.html.

Also important are Excel, PowerPoint (sometimes), Facebook, and Microsoft Publisher. Apple has equivalent software as well. Another good program is Google docs, a free service that allows you to post editable documents that can be accessed from anywhere.

Seem like a lot to know and learn? That's why the SBDC Wyoming Entrepreneur is here for you. Let us help make sense of the path to starting a business and the journey of running one through the years.

Register for free as a client at www.uwyo.edu/SBDC/consulting.html. A business counselor will contact you for an appointment once you are registered.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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