Burke County Chamber of Commerce Director Ashley Roberts says there is a lot more to starting a business than people often realize.
The chamber teamed up with the UGA Small Business Development Center May 13 to conduct a seminar sponsored by Georgia Power on starting a business in Burke County. Rick McMurtrey of the Small Business Development Center said he is seeing an increase in entrepreneurship since the pandemic struck.
“I think a lot of people reprioritized what they want to do with their lives,” he said.
People contemplating going into business should ask themselves if there is a new need that has been recently created that they can fill. They should also consider whether they can excel at what they are thinking about pursuing. In light of labor shortages, people should consider whether they have the expertise to get the job done, or will they need skilled employees? They also need to consider how they will finance the venture.
Starting a business begins with developing a strong business plan. McMurtrey said the Small Business Development Center assists potential business owners by looking over their business plans and making suggestions that help secure bank fi- nancing. They also discuss financial projections and marketing strategy.
When looking for financing, Mc- Murtrey suggests checking with local banks first. A local institution may offer a commercial loan, eliminating the need for Small Business Administration (SBA) backing.
“When there is an SBA guarantee on that loan, there is additional work that has to be done and bankers don’t necessarily like to do that work,” he said. “So, if you can meet regular lending standards, they would rather do that.”
McMurtrey said it is also important to note that the federal government recently raised the interest rates by 50 basis points, the first of several expected hikes.
“Interest rates are going to start going up,” he said.
Communication, time management and organizational skills are also crucial attributes to measure. Business owners should expect new businesses to consume their time for the first two years. Thinking strategically helps owners stay focused on a vision for business growth.
A recording of the seminar is available on the chamber’s YouTube channel.
New business owners may want to consider Chamber of Commerce membership. Some of the benefits of membership include networking and relationship building, educational and resource information, as well as opportunities for advertising.
“One of the main functions of the Chamber of Commerce is to act as a liaison between the business community and the larger community as a whole,” Roberts said. “The Burke County Chamber is proud to have nearly 200 members ranging from small businesses to our largest industries all committed to advancing our local business community and continuing to drive our local economy.”
An application is available at www.burkechamber.org or printed applications can be obtained at the chamber’s office in the historic courthouse. Membership costs depend on the size or type of the business and the number of employees.
The county does not require business licenses, said County Manager Merv Waldrop. However, a number of the cities do. Potential business owners should check with their city hall if they are located within the limits of one of county’s municipalities.
Information on Waynesboro’s licensing requirements is available on the city’s website, www.waynesboroga. com/128/Licenses-Permits.
Even though business licenses are not necessary in the unincorporated areas, compliance with zoning laws is required. Potential business owners should check with the Burke County Planning Commission to make sure their business is allowed in the area they wish to establish it. Also, if the business requires construction or remodeling, a building permit is needed.
“If alcohol sales are involved, then an alcohol license is required,” Waldrop said. “The health department may be involved if food is sold or if the business needs a septic tank installed.”