3. Plan Your Finances

Once you determine how much money you need to start your business in your business plan, it’s time to secure funding. To get funding, you’ll need to either raise or borrow the capital. Let Clearwater Business SPARK and our partners help you secure funding. Tampa Bay Black Investment Corporation provides accessible, flexible capital, combined with development services that help entrepreneurs expand their credit capacity, offering loan sizes not offered through banks at interest rates that can be less costly than bank products.

4. Determine Business Name & Location

Choosing a business location is one of the most important decisions you need to make. These choices can affect your taxes, legal requirements and revenue. Do your research as permits and licenses can be much more costly in some municipalities than others. There might also be state and local governments offering tax incentives and credits for new businesses.

5. Register with the Government and IRS

Once you have a business location, you will need to acquire a variety of businesses licenses to legally operate your business. You need to register with the federal, state and local governments. In addition to getting your business licenses, you’ll also have to register with the IRS to fulfill your federal and state income tax obligations.

6. Purchase Business Insurance

Getting business insurance is a step that might easily slip your mind, but is an important step that should happen before you officially launch your business. Insurance will protect your financial and intellectual investment from unforeseen circumstances such as theft, customer lawsuit or property damage.

7. Build Your Team

The people you hire can make or break your business. If you aren’t going to be the only employee, you need to recruit and hire a great team to get your company off the ground.

8. Brand Yourself, Advertise and Grow Your Business

Create a brand for your company. This includes a logo, website, social media platforms just to name a few aspects. You must create an online presence for your new business and start promoting it on all channels.

Are you ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship? Partners of the Clearwater Business SPARK network provide a comprehensive mix of programs to support the growth and development of entrepreneurs ranging from pre-venture to startup to existing businesses. No matter where you are in this process, contact us for help obtaining resources.

Perhaps the most daunting task of starting any business is finding the proper financing to turn your vision into a reality. Securing funding is one of the first financial choices most business owners make and arguably the most important. While this may seem incredibly overwhelming, Clearwater Business SPARK and its partners are here to support upcoming entrepreneurs in pursuit of funding for their business.

Clearwater Business SPARK is where success begins. Through the collaboration and coordination of numerous organizations and agencies, Clearwater entrepreneurs and small businesses can find the resources they need to start and grow their small business through Clearwater Business SPARK.

Launched in 2016, Clearwater Business SPARK is a professional business network providing a comprehensive mix of programs and services to support the growth and development of small businesses and entrepreneurs. The network offers customized solutions to support its clients in every stage of development including pre-venture, startup or existing small businesses.

If you would like to explore the feasibility of a business idea, Clearwater Business SPARK partners Pinellas County SCORE, Prospera, and Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) provide confidential one-on-one counseling sessions that can help you define and focus your business concepts. They can provide expert guidance through workshops, seminars, and other business development resources, many available in both English and Spanish. The Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation offers an intensive 16-week course called CATCH for entrepreneurship training and small business owners. Currently, all of Clearwater Business SPARK’s partners are conducting all workshops and counseling sessions virtually.

Securing Financing for Your Business

March 12, 2021

First, it’s important to figure out if your business idea is even feasible. Testing your business idea is the foundation for building your company. Florida Business Incubator, a Clearwater Business SPARK partner, has a program specifically for the idea stage. They work with businesses that are not yet validated or marketable and help the entrepreneur understand where to begin and how to get the necessary resources.

Don’t go from idea to a full-fledged business. If your idea requires producing a product, start by making a prototype. This gives potential customers something to hold or experience before you invest thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in your idea. The Clearwater Public Library System has an array of maker studios. Equipment includes a 3D printer, Adobe Creative Cloud Apps, Video Production resources, Laser Engraver, and more. The Library System also provides entrepreneurial support if needed.

Once you have tested the feasibility of your idea and built your initial prototype, the next step would be to create a business plan. This should provide a frame for your business model and define how you move forward with your business. Pinellas County SCORE is a great place to look to for guidance on a variety of topics like writing a business plan. Business mentoring services are provided by both active and retired business executives and entrepreneurs who donate their time and expertise as mentors.

8 Steps to Starting a Small Business

January 7, 2021

Before seeking funding from an external institution, one should evaluate if they are able to self-fund their venture. A major advantage of self-funding is that you retain complete control over your business. There are several ways to accomplish this, whether it be asking your family and friends for capital, using your savings account, or even your 401k. The disadvantage of this route is that there is a much higher level of risk should your business fail.

If you are unable to self-fund but still want to retain control over your business, you may be interested in applying for a small business loan. However, bank loans are often the most difficult type of financing to secure, so you will have to ensure that you are properly prepared when you apply.  To increase your chances of securing a loan, you should have a business plan, expense sheet and financial projections for the next five years.

Another method that entrepreneurs are increasingly turning towards is crowdfunding. Platforms such as Kickstarter allow small businesses to pay to join their platform and raise capital from investors. These investors do not receive a share of ownership in the business or get a financial return, so it is an incredibly appealing method for those looking to maintain control over their company. 

Don’t forget to look local when searching for financing! In the Clearwater region there are a multitude of sources to secure your funding. Clearwater Business SPARK has multiple partners that can guide you through the available options for securing funding. These include Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council, Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation and Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development.

While this is not an all-inclusive list of funding methods available, these are some of the most common and meet many of the needs small businesses face when getting off the ground. No matter where you are in the process of finding your funds, contact us to help guide you on the right path.

If you’re thinking about starting a business, you’re in good company. According to The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), 99.7% of U.S. companies are categorized as small businesses - those with less than 500 employees. Clearwater Business SPARK and its partners are here to support entrepreneurs in every stage of development so you can easily identify and obtain the resources you need to start and grow your business.

Read below for our 8 basic steps to starting a small business:

Have you been in business for a few years and would like to enhance your marketing strategies to drive new customers and increase revenue? Do you need help determining appropriate financing options? Or maybe are you looking for advice on doing business in international markets? Clearwater Business SPARK has partners that can assist in all these areas.

The Clearwater Library System’s Main Library has a unique maker space called Studios@Main. There you can find a variety of hands-on tools such as 3-D printers, production software, audio and video equipment and more. Shoot a YouTube commercial for your business in this space or create a prototype, the possibilities are endless in this maker space. There are also classes, drop-in sessions and one-on-one training for many different interests. Studio@Countryside also has a maker studio that can be reserved for public use.

Whatever business challenges you might be facing as an entrepreneur or business owner, Clearwater Business SPARK is committed to connecting its clients with the resources they need to take their business to the next level. To get started, contact us at (772) 443-0217 or fill out the contact us form on our website: https://www.clearwaterbusinessspark.com/contact.html.

Turn Your Startup Idea into a Reality

February 9, 2021

As 2020 is ending and the new year is approaching, it’s a perfect time to take the plunge and start exploring the business idea you’ve always wanted to pursue. Or if you are already a small business owner and are looking for ways to expand and improve your business in the new year, Clearwater Business SPARK has solutions for you!

Clearwater Business SPARK​: Where Success Begins

December 14, 2020


COVID-19 Information and City Updates

Every business starts as a great idea. Taking that idea and turning it into a startup business is a huge hurdle that many entrepreneurs don’t know where to begin to tackle. Fortunately, Clearwater Business SPARK has a network for businesses in Pinellas County that work to support entrepreneurs in every stage of development.

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need startup capital. Funding can come from a variety of places – personal savings, investors, government grants, etc. Clearwater Business SPARK has multiple partners that can guide you through the available options for securing funding. These include Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council, Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation, and Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development.

Clearwater Business SPARK has all of the resources you need to turn your business idea into a reality. Whether you are just beginning this process or have been working on it for a while, let us connect you with the resources you need to take your business to the next level. See the full list of our partners here. Or contact us at (772) 443-0217 to get started.

1. Do Your Research

Once you have an idea for your business, it’s important to understand the market for your product or service. The SBA recommends gathering demographic information and conducting a competitive analysis to better understand opportunities and limitations within your market. Market research can include methods like surveys, focus groups, and interviews.

Florida Business Incubator, Inc. has a program catered to businesses in the idea stage. They can help you understand how marketable your business idea is and where to get the needed resources.

2. Create Your Business Plan

Your business plan is the foundation of your business. A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. Your business plan should include an executive summary, company description, market analysis, company structure, services offered, marketing and sales plan and financial projections.

If you are looking to secure funding, you will also add a section outlining your funding requirements. You want to clearly explain how much funding you need and what you’ll use it for.

Contact Us At  (727) 443-0217