Dear Karen: I'm shooting educational foreign language videos. Where can I get information on pricing, Internet sales and grants?
Answer: Write a simple business plan and you'll learn about all the issues you must address as a start-up business owner. Diligent research -- online and at your local library -- can help you answer questions about pricing structure, sales and funding, all of which will come up in the planning process, said Bryan Howe, chief executive of MasterPlans, a professional business planning firm based in Portland, Ore.
A business plan will also make you confront important issues you might not otherwise think of, such as intellectual property protection. "We refer people to BPlans.com, which is a good resource center with free sample plans, templates and lots of information," Howe said.
You can check government grant opportunities at Grants.gov, but typically no grants are available to for-profit businesses.
"Unfortunately, grant hucksters exist who promise to sell you something to help you get a grant, but be smart -- don't fall for that," Howe said.