Is starting a small business right for you?
Check out the Small Business Administration's Small Business Planner section of their website. It will provide you with thoughtful, important information on what it takes to start your own business.
Or, go directly to their interactive Assessment Tool and answer their questions. Based on your answers, SBA will help you evaluate your readiness to start a small business and will then direct you to the "most appropriate SBA resources" to continue your preparations.
The Small Business Training Network is another good place to look for help. They offer online classes on all aspects of small business needs.
How to get your small business started:
The Census website is a good place to start for researching your customers. You can get detailed information in areas of population, income levels, and education attainment for starters.
Not sure where to go on the Census website? Use American Factfinder's quick tables. They will give you information from the state to the zip code level, and cover subjects from population and housing to business and industry.
Need more industry information? Try the Census's Business and Industry site. It covers economic statistics for all industries, offers data from the national level to the zip code level, and covers data releases from annual to quarterly.
Don't forget the useful Reference USA database. With it you can build custom searches that will let you checkout the businesses already in your surrounding area.
Ready to write your business plan? Visit SBA's Write a Business Plan for in-depth information on the process.
Or, take a look at the Small Business Resource Center. They offer over 300 sample business plans as well as research material on specific businesses and plenty of information on the basics of starting a small business.