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FAQs on Starting a Business

Most entrepreneurs and new business owners have questions about writing a business plan, understanding business structures, raising capital and conducting market research for your specific industry.  The questions and answers below include links to additional helpful information.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where can I find information on writing a business plan?

Small Biz U offers online workshops on the business planning process.  Click here for business Plan information including links to online samples.        

2. What is a DBA and do I need one?        

A DBA (doing business as or assumed name) is required for all Texas businesses in every Texas county where you transact business.  You can file for a DBA at the Harris County Clerk’s Office

3. What is an EIN number?        

You need an Employer Identification number if you will be paying a salary to one or more employees.  An application form is available from the Internal Revenue Service online.  If you are a sole proprietor without employees you can use your Social Security Number.

4. Do I need a sales tax permit?        

If you will be selling tangible personal property or some types of labor or services, then yes.  Sales tax permits are handled by the Texas State Comptroller’s Office.

5. What kind of business organization do I need?     

Different legal structures such as a Limited Liability Corporation, S Corporation, C Corp, and Sole Proprietorship all have different requirements for paying taxes to the state.  For a more detailed explanation of the different organizational structures and for the applications necessary visit the Texas Secretary of State Corporations Section.

6. Are there grants for my business?        

If you are starting a for-profit business, there generally aren’t any grants.  Businesses are typically started with the business owner’s own capital or money from friends and family.  A small business loan is another option.  The University of Houston Bauer College SBDC can help you determine your eligibility for a bank loan and assist you in putting together a loan proposal.  Click here for more information on accessing start-up capital.

7. How do I obtain demographic information?  

Visit the U.S. Census Bureau website’s American FactFinder section for actual data. The Census Bureau also has population projections by age and ethnicity. The Sourcebook of Zip Code Demographics offers projections based on income and spending potential.  

8. How do I find about trends in my specific industry?        

Encyclopedia of American Industries has industry statistics, overviews,  and leading companies.

9. How do I find an association for my business and what can they do for me?        

Look through the Encyclopedia of Associations or search on a specific ‘association’ on Google.  Trade associations usually have industry statistics and other information to help you with your market research and strategy.  

10. How do I find out about specific franchises?                       

Bond’s Franchise Guide or the International Franchise Association have detailed descriptions on a variety of franchises.  You can then visit the specific franchise websites for more information.