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Getting started in business

  • AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Structural Metal Fabricators of Palmerton modified truck to operate on railroad tracks. Guy Seifert, owner of Structural Metal Fabricators spoke on how he operates his business at The Realities of…
    AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Structural Metal Fabricators of Palmerton modified truck to operate on railroad tracks. Guy Seifert, owner of Structural Metal Fabricators spoke on how he operates his business at The Realities of Entrepreneurship and Getting Started workshop. Sign up for free classes.
Published June 11. 2011 09:00AM

Looking for work? You have two options-finding a job or starting a business.

With unemployment hovering around 10 percent, jobs-especially interesting jobs with opportunities for growth-are few and far between. In contrast, since the demise of its heyday as a coal, zinc and transportation giant, Carbon has become a county of small businesses - with 97 percent of its businesses having fewer than 50 employees.

But for a person with the will to go out on their own, and a business idea to base it upon, the only question often is, how can I get started?

Enter the Entrepreneurship Workshop series, now underway in Carbon County, with classes being held in Jim Thorpe. The free series offers seven two-hour classes that address a business startup-from Getting Started and Developing a Business Plan, to Financing and Marketing Your Business.

The first class, The Realities of Entrepreneurship and Getting Started, is being offered twice. The first class was held on June 3, to be repeated today.

The instructor for the first class, Ed Kowalczyk of Wilkes University's Small Business Development Center, began by saying that to start a new business, you need to understand and address three things: requirements, structure, and planning.

The requirements begin with a name for your business. You may use your last name for the business, such as Smith's Hardware or O'Donnell's Landscaping, without additional filing. If you choose any other name, such as Coaldale Catering or Mount Pisgah Bed & Breakfast, Pennsylvania requires that you file for a fictitious name that you will be "doing business as." Various forms are online at

If you are currently collecting Pennsylvania unemployment benefits, issuance of a "fictitious name" by the state may trigger a review that could deny future benefits.

If your business requires its own location, such as for manufacturing, food processing, or customer visitation, Kowalczyk advises that you check with the local secretary for applicable zoning, accessibility, and code compliance and inspection requirements.

The second decision is how to structure your business. The easiest and most popular structure is sole proprietorship-that is, you are the owner of the business. The advantage is that you make the decisions and paperwork is minimal. The disadvantage is you have all the responsibility and the liability.

A second business structure is the partnership. In a partnership, the partners share the business in an agreed-upon manor. They share the costs, the profits, the responsibilities and the liabilities.

By liabilities is meant-what happens if things go bad, particularly if the business gets sued? To separate your personal assets from that of the business, an alternate business structure is the corporation, C-type for large businesses or S-type for smaller businesses, and the Limited Liability Corporation.

These structures are more complex, are open to government reporting and structural requirements such as a board of directors and a bylaws, and may introduce an additional layer of taxation. Although they are designed to create a firewall of liability protection, Kowalczyk cautions, in a legal suit everyone involved may be individually named in the suit.

The third step is creating a business plan. A workbook that includes information on creating a business plan will be available.

A business plan lays out the design of the business: the product or service, the location, the ownership, employees competition, inventory and costs for marketing, startup and operations. If financing is required, a lender will use the business plan to determine whether to issue a loan and how much it will offer.

To eject some real life experience into the class, two local business owners spoke to the class: Frank Potoczak owner of Castile Grill and Secure Technologies, Inc., and Guy Seifert, owner of Structural Metal Fabricators.

The next workshops is:

1. The Realities of Entrepreneurship and Getting Started

Saturday, June 18 from 9-11 a.m.

The balance of the workshops are given from 6-8 p.m.

2. Developing a Business Plan - Tuesday, June 21

3. Financing Your Business - Thursday, July 7

4. Marketing Your Business - Thursday, July 21

5. Accounting, Bookkeeping and Taxes - Thursday, August 4

6. Legal Issues - Thursday, August 18

7. Human Resources - Tuesday, Sept. 6

For additional information or to register, email:, or call: (570) 325-2810. Classes are held at Carbon County CareerLink, 69 Broadway, Jim Thorpe. Street parking is available as well as at the Carbon County parking lot next to the Jim Thorpe train station.

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