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From the get-go: find the resource you need to launch your startup.

Anyone who has wanted to start a business or create their own company usually begins with two key ingredients--imagination and motivation. What many need to complete the recipe for success are, first, the working capital to make it happen and, second, the knowledge and/or experience to lead that concept in the right direction.

Utah is blessed with an abundance of entrepreneurial spirit. Fortunately, it's also gifted with a variety of resources that can help raise the money necessary to launch a new business and the practical advice to keep it running.

Nurturing Seedlings

Why do I need a business plan? How do I get a small business loan? Should I form an LLC or incorporate? Chasing your dream and launching a business can be exhilarating--and terrifying. Sometimes all you need is a little encouragement and a bit of know-how. Fortunately, several organizations in Utah are ready to provide just that.

Business Resource Centers.

Earlier this year, Utah Valley University in Orem opened its Business Resource Center, the school's self-labeled "storefront for economic development." It's actually one of 12 such BRCs that have been established by the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) across the state.

Director Roger Andrus describes the UVU center as a "greenhouse, where the seeds of economic activity are sown and nourished." BRCs provide a range of services, from training and technical expertise to networking and access to sources of capital. The UVU center also has business incubators--spaces that provide fledgling companies the resources to gain strength and grow.

"Many who have worked with other successful Utah companies, particularly in technology-based companies, are looking to strike out on their own," Andrus says. "They realize they can do many things for themselves, but they might still feel the need for expertise or guidance in a few areas. That's where we can help."

BRCs throughout the state host seminars and presentations geared for startup and small businesses, as well as mentoring and coaching, free legal and accounting advice, market research assistance, managerial training, infrastructure and business operational support, and training for international programs.

Other Government Programs.

The state of Utah, through GOED, has developed several targeted resources to support business development and economic expansion. Those looking to create a business around a technological innovation can look to the Utah Science, Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative for support. USTAR established four regional offices in Utah to help local entrepreneurs commercialize their inventions. These regional offices provide consulting and networking opportunities, as well as help with product development and patent research.

Utah Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) help connect small businesses with government contracting opportunities (federal, state and local). The program's nine statewide locations provide workshops and one-on-one consultations. PTAC has specialized software to help match businesses with bid opportunities and can help develop winning proposals.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is dedicated to helping manufacturing companies operate as efficiently as possible. The organization offers training in Six Sigma, lean techniques and sustainable practices, as well as leadership and strategic planning.

Community Resources.

The best advise usually comes from people who have been there, done the SCORE, a nonprofit that focuses on helping small businesses and entrepreneurs, has a valuable, statewide network of volunteer mentors who are willing to share advice on everything from accounting to marketing to human resource dilemmas. SCORE also hosts workshops and seminars and has an extensive online library of webinars, business templates and articles.

SCORE is a partner of the Small Business Administration (SBA)--as is the Utah Small Business Development Center (USBDC). This organization encompasses 11 service centers statewide and four satellite locations, which all provide consulting, training, networking, and resources like market research and business referrals.

Despite its name, the Women's Business Center at the Salt Lake Chamber offers tools and resources for business owners of any gender. The Women's Business Center has a full slate of seminars, networking events and mentorship opportunities.

Developing Entrepreneurs

The Beehive State hums with entrepreneurial activity, and this rich culture of business creation has solid benefits for up-and-coming entrepreneurs--many experienced individuals, organizations and companies are dedicated to coaching ambitious newbies.

Grow Utah Ventures began as a venture capital fund, but has been transformed by its founders into a business accelerator. Grow Utah Ventures is the brainchild of MarketStar founder Alan Hall and his longtime business partner T Craig Bott.

"Seven years ago, not much was happening with entrepreneurship," says Bott. "Utah didn't have a strong angel community, and there was not a lot of incubator action. So we began looking at anybody who had anything to do with fostering talent on the higher executive levels."

Grow Utah Ventures offers entrepreneur training and organizes contests and crowd pitching events. It also works as a catalyst, bringing various resources together in local communities to support business development. In September, for example, the organization held a "concept to company" contest for medical device companies. It conducted a similar contest for mobile applications in October, and has sponsored contests in outdoor recreation, consumer products and energy industries as well.

Salt Lake City's Wayne Brown Institute has been at the forefront of helping new and existing businesses for nearly 30 years. President and CEO Brad Bertoch says the institute primarily works on "equity financing of high-growth businesses and specialty debt products related to those types of companies."

The Wayne Brown Institute brings together early-stage companies with potential investors, who provide intensive mentoring and coaching to help accelerate the business.

Business plan competitions have become increasingly popular. These events can help new entrepreneurs fine-tune their business model and score investment capital. There are competitions and mentorship programs for just about every niche:

Grow Utah Ventures Concept to Company competitions--ongoing contests that help entrepreneurs take their ideas to the next level.

Grow Utah Ventures CrowdPitch events--challenges where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to potential investors in front of an audience.

Grow America Social Springboard competitions--weekly, online business competitions.

The Wayne Brown Institute Deal Forums--a venue for entrepreneurs to learn the fundraising process as they watch angel investors critique mentored presentations.

Wayne Brown Institute Investor's Choice Conference--an opportunity for pre-screened, high-growth companies to present to angel investors.

BoomStartup--mentorship program that helps startups gain access to capital.

Utah Entrepreneur Challenge--a business plan competition for higher-education students in Utah.

Accessing Capital

For many would-be entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge is obtaining the money needed to launch a business. Funding is certainly available in Utah for solid business concepts, whether it's a traditional business loan, an infusion of venture capital or even a stream of crowd-funding investments.

The first route for many new businesses is a small business loan. Local banks and credit unions are ready and willing to help walk business owners through the process of applying for a small business loan. For example, the Business Resource Center at Zions Bank can help entrepreneurs craft business plans and develop realistic budgets.

Lendio is a local, for-profit company that promises to match small business owners with lending institutions and loans that are the best fit for that business. Lendio, which is a free service for businesses, says it can increase the chances a business will be approved for financing.

For entrepreneurs looking for an infusion of investment funds, Utah is home to active angel investors and venture capital firms. Each investor group or VC fund tends to have its own unique niche, such as technology, medical devices, seed funding or consumer products. Island Park Investments, for example, was founded by Alan Hall to invest in and mentor early-stage tech companies.

Utah-based Sorenson Capital boasts a wide-ranging portfolio of investments that includes companies like Mity Enterprises, Provo Craft and Western States Lodging. The firm also invested in local tech company Omniture, which was later purchased by Adobe Systems.

Grow Utah Ventures maintains an extensive list of active angel groups and venture capital firms in Utah on its website:
What Do You Need?

Business plan development Small Business Development Center

Education or training Business Resource Center

Technical expertise USTAR Technology Outreach

Networking Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Business consulting Grow Utah Ventures

An incubator Procurement Technical Assistance

A business contest SCORE Salt Lake

Government contract procurement Custom Fit UCAT

Online workshops Women's Business Center

Employee training Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund

Six sigma or lean training Wayne Brown Institute















* Business Resource Centers

* Procurement Technical Assistance Centers

"Many who have worked with other successful Utah companies, particularly in technology-based companies, are looking to strike out on their own."

Roger Andrus


UVU Business Resource Center

RELATED ARTICLE: Top Five SBA Lenders in Utah

1 Mountain West Small Business Finance

Total 2011 SBA Loans: $93.7 million

2 Zions First National Bank

Total 2011 SBA Loans: $76.2 million

3 Utah CDC

Total 2011 SBA Loans: $38.9 million

4 Celtic Bank

Total 2011 SBA Loans: $37.2 million

5 JPMorgan Chase

Total 2011 SBA Loans: $24.5 million
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Comment:From the get-go: find the resource you need to launch your startup.
Author:Haraldsen, Tom
Publication:Utah Business
Geographic Code:1U8UT
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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