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If you are thinking of starting a business in the Bay Area, finding a way to start from home is an excellent idea. Until you have some revenues coming in, paying the cost of an office each month can be prohibitive, especially with the cost of leasing commercial real estate in places like San Francisco or Santa Clara.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you get a small business started in the Bay Area. For example, if you live in San Francisco, the Office of Small Business there can give you lots of information about setting up a business from home, including what you will have to do in terms of licenses, permits and so on. They can also help identify ways that you can fund your business – and they even have something called the Revolving Loan Fund where you can get up to $25,000 in a low-interest loan to start your business. However keep in mind that this fund is for people on a low income only, so if you don’t qualify you’ll have to go down the same path as anybody else does when they start a business – try to get a bank loan, or borrow from family and friends.
If you are on a low income and thinking of starting a business or becoming self-employed, getting financing can be quite challenging in general, especially if you don’t have a good credit rating. If you don’t manage to get local government assistance, however, all is not lost, especially now that
Microloans are starting to take off in the Bay Area. These are small loans – typically in the range of $15,000 – that are provided at relatively low interest rates by nonprofit organizations. You will have to pay these back, but the willingness of these organizations to look at nontraditional businesses is attractive, as is the fact that they will often offer you further support from business experts.
Of course, if you reach the point where your home business is starting to bloom, then you may want to take the next step and go and secure a bank loan, or even look at getting venture capitalist funding to really take things to the next level. Fortunately, the Bay Area is home to what is probably the largest collection of venture capitalists in the world, including companies such as Gabriel Venture Partners, which you can read more about on Rick Bolander’s WordPress blog.
There are also a number of organizations who help budding entrepreneurs grow their ideas into real businesses. For example, the Alameda County Small Business Development Center, located in Oakland, provides free seminars and counseling from business experts, as well as low-cost technology training courses. There are also centers run by the same organization in other areas, including in San Francisco and in San Jose. Other organizations to look at include Astia, a nonprofit organization that is committed to helping women grow and manage their businesses.
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