SBDC shares tips on launching ventures with limited resources

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

The Midtown Manhattan Small Business Development Center shared tips on how to launch ventures with limited resources in the latest installment of the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship’s “Entrepreneurial Lunch & Learn” webinar series.

Titled “Bootstrapping Your Business: Strategies and Tips for Launching a Business with Limited Funds,” the March 22 webinar was hosted by Stephanie Peschiera and Ronald Zorrilla, who are both business advisors at the SBDC and alumni of Baruch College.

Since 1993, SBDC has served members of the general public who want to launch their startup from its midtown office, which is located within Baruch’s Field Center. Through one-on-one advising, SBDC helps clients develop their business plans, understand financing options and figure out licensing and regulations. It also employs a pro-bono lawyer and accountant on staff.

“The client-and-advisor relationship is unique,” Peschiera said. “Each business has its own unique challenges, and we really try to meet the needs of what you’re dealing with.”

Peschiera said that SBDC deals with a variety of ventures, from jewelry designers and gym owners to garlic importers and construction consulting firms. Zorrilla added that the center deals with businesses at all stages, including students who are developing their ideas.

“Knowing who your customer is is so important to developing your plan because those are the people you want to talk to,” Zorrilla said. “Those are the people you want to hear from and to see if this [idea] is something viable.”

He explained that business plans help clients understand aspects of their venture such as its mission, long-term goals, legal structure, target audience, products and services, competitors and trends in the market.

While he noted that writing a 20-page plan may consume time, Zorrilla emphasized that mapping out the financial costs will help with making that venture profitable. He also encouraged attendees to update their plans to accommodate for changes in the economy, such as emerging market trends and increasing interest rates.

“At the end of the day, you need to run a profitable business that needs to make sense financially,” Zorrilla added. “There’s no better way of doing that than mapping out these costs.”

He also explained “bootstrapping,” which is when an entrepreneur does not take out loans and lets their business generate revenue over time to cover expenses. He noted that some industries require loans to acquire equipment and staff, but this will result in the lenders having control over a percentage of the company.

Peschiera said that once a person has identified a viable business opportunity, they should consider how much money they need and how they can obtain it. She added that a common theme in funding strategies is bootstrapping.

“Before investors, lenders or even partners are going to take a chance on you, they want to see that you’re resourceful, you’re due diligent, you’ve done your homework and you have skin in the game,” Peschiera added, “which means you put your own money and resources towards funding the business.”

She said that those who bootstrap should “put time into proper planning [and] set milestones” because “businesses grow in phases.”

“Realistically, the vast majority of clients that I see are starting their business based on their personal savings — just saving over time, you know, personal budgeting skills,” Peschiera said. “Start early and don’t get overwhelmed. That’s why it’s important to do the budgeting and planning because you’ll at least have a number that you know you need to get to.”

The business advisors ended their presentation by providing a list of free or low-cost resources to help attendees jumpstart their ventures.

Peschiera highlighted the “New York StartUP! 2023 Business Plan Competition” held by the New York Public Library and various pitch competitions present on Eventbrite. For technology-centered businesses, she also said angel investors may provide mentorship and funding. She noted GarysGuide and AlleyWatch as two websites that help keep track of events for startups in the city.

“There’s so much assistance to help you get to the next level of your business,” Zorrilla said. “We’re here. There are other organizations that are here, and they’re happy to help.”