Starting your own Business

Are you are thinking of starting a business?  The Sumter County Chamber of Commerce wants to see you succeed.  The Chamber has resources to help you go from idea to opening your business.  Below are various website links, articles and information about running a business.  

When you are ready to start, the Starting your Business do not start without a business plan.  Below are links to help you, as well as links for free one-on-one help.  Finally, we have other resources that will help you avoid common business problems.

Business Plan Essentials

  • Why Do a Business Plan?

    Only 19% of small business owners use business planning.  And 19% of small businesses survive at the end of each year.  Coincidence?

    Business planning does not guarantee success.  However, most people would not think of building a house without a set of building plans.  Without a building plan, it is doubtful your foundation would be adequate, you might forget key parts of the plumbing, and your kitchen might end up where your bathroom should be.

    The same situation will happen if you do not create a business plan.  While you might think that you can keep everything in your head, your results are likely to be disappointing.

    The business plan process helps you think through all parts of your business, establish a solid foundation, and puts you in a position for business growth.  The parts of the business plan that you cannot do or are hard for you, are the areas where you need professional help.  A plumber building his own house hires experts in roofing and other unknown areas.  You need to approach your business the same way.

    Three (3) Essential Levels:  Strategic plan; Business plan; Operational plan

    If you are planning a vacation, there are three steps.  The strategic plan determines where you are going to go, the time of year, and who you will go with.  The business plan determines how you will get there, how much money to bring, and a basic idea of what you will be doing.  Finally, the operational plan determines all the actions you will do once you are there.

    Business planning is the same.  Just having a "good business idea" is not a strategic plan.  You need to know the long-term prosperity of your business and whether it is positioned correctly for the marketplace today and in the future.

    Do not skip the steps.  Research shows that strategic planning is the only form of planning that has a strong connection to financial performance.  In other words, if your foundation is not solid, the rest of the business cannot thrive.

    STRATEGIC PLAN:  Consider putting your "good business idea" through a strategic planning process BEFORE anything else.  Below is a free online class.

    Creating a Strategic Plan: (
    Developed by SCORE. This free, online course shows you how to create a mission, visions, goals, and strategy for your business.

    BUSINESS PLAN: Once you have a solid foundation, you are ready for the business plan.  There are many sources of help to create business plans - online classes (free and low-cost), low-cost classes through the SBDC and SCORE, books, and software.

    For free business plan tools, CLICK HERE.

    Make sure that your business plan clearly supports your strategic plan.  If it does not, go back and refine your business plan - or it is like building a house and not attaching it to its foundation.  You can also take a class on business planning or get free assistance by using the links at the left.

    Palo Alto software, maker of BusinessPlan Pro, provides sample business plans at They also provide biweekly classes to teach you about their software.

    OPERATIONAL: Your operational plans are all the details you will need to do business: the forms you will need, the procedures, the sales process to follow, and more.  Get a binder with dividers and write notes as you think of things.  Also, supplement your operational plans by reading books about business and talking with others.  Make sure your operational plans reflect your business plan.  Usually that means to make sure your operational plans (expenses and revenue) stay within budget - but it can also help you prioritize your time.

    You need to revisit your strategic plan every year; your business plans every quarter; and your operational plan every week.
    Resources for Business Success


    • Would you like a great answer to, “But what are you doing for us?”
    • Interested in a new source of revenue?
    • What about a greater return on investment in your organization?
    • Want to give your businesses first help, instead of always referring them on?
    • How about supplying resources without spending a lot of staff time and money?

    Pick your Business Location:

  • Why Buy Locally?

    Research shows that:

    • For every $100 spent in local, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures.
    • If you spend the same in national stores, $43 stays locally.
    • If you spend the same on the Internet, $0 stays locally.

    Support local businesses!

  • Contacts

    Sumter County Chamber of Commerce
    409 Elm Avenue, Americus, Georgia 31709

    Small Business Development Centers are part of a national network of organizations dedicated to helping people start and expand their business.  Funded by the SBA and some local cities, SBDCs provide free one-on-one counseling and low-cost workshops.

    Your local SBDC is:

    SBDC at University of Albany Georgia
    2419 Westgate Drive
    Albany, GA 31701

    Phone: (229) 420-1144
    Fax: (229) 430-3933

    Satellite Office in Americus, Georgia
    Rees Park Economic Development Center
    409 Elm Avenue
    Americus, Georgia 31709

  • Other Business Assistance

Understanding Social Media

  • Incorporating Social Media

    Social media is not something that you can set up and then forget.  The goal is to create an ongoing relationship with your customers and potential customers.  If you ignore your social media sites, you're ignoring them.

    Posting consistently, at least once a week, is expected.  Without resolute staff, this can be overwhelming to a business.

    Ignoring social media will cost you in customers and sales.  It is a way people can check on your skills, customer reviews, your engagement with customers, and more.  It is not like a website, which has 1-way communication and is static. Social media is 2-way communication and is always evolving.

  • Social Media When You're Pressed for Time

    How do Small Businesses Participate in Social Media When They Have So Little Time?

    Here is a strategy that may work for you:

    • Identify who your ideal customer is.
    • Focus on the best social media platform to reach your ideal customer.
    • Create a BUSINESS page on that platform.  Both FaceBook and LinkedIn have business pages that can be attached to your personal page.
    • Put a link to your social media business page on your website and at the bottom of your emails.
    • Google Alerts is a free service that will send you links to articles on any topic(s) that you choose.
    • Choose several topics that would interest your customers.  One should be directly connected to what you do.  Others can be on indirect topics (i.e. for a mechanics shop, this could be car safety).
    • Once a week, look at those articles to find one that your customers might like. Write one or two sentences about the article and include a link to the article. End your post with "What do you think?", "Do you agree?" or some other question.
    • Ideally, find a picture to go with your post. There may be a picture connected with the article that you can use.  If not, search online with your browser and select "images". Right click on the image, save it, and include it with your post.
    • This can take as little as 15 minutes.
  • Five Steps to Master Small Business Social Media

  • Seven Ways to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Small Business