St. Joseph has a vibrant consumer base eager to support small business. The city serves as the shopping destination for residents of many counties throughout Northwest Missouri. It also houses a booming agribusiness sector and is home to a variety of startups.
Making the decision to open a business in St. Joseph comes with plenty of thought and planning. It all starts with a business idea, which is the first thing you need to know about launching a business. What type of business are you interested in? Once you can answer that question, start doing your research; visit businesses in the industry and get clued in to how they operate. Developing your idea comes with plenty of footwork; so don’t be shy about getting out there and experiencing what others are doing.
It’s never too early to start thinking about money. Most business owners will tell you that they needed more money than they originally believed when they got their start. Get going on a crowdfunding campaign and consider microfinancing as options for building up startup capital. These are methods that allow you to avoid dipping into your savings or borrowing from friends and family. You’ll need to build up enough cash to pay your rent and utilities, buy your inventory, market your business and pay yourself for at least six months, as it usually takes a minimum of six months to get the word out about your business.
The Business Plan
While you’re building up your cash reserves, develop your business plan. The business plan is the crucial piece of the puzzle that sets the foundation for how you’ll operate your business. The plan is the template for staying within your budget and meeting revenue projections. The plan will also determine how many employees you’ll need to effectively run the operation. Your plan should include an outline that guides you through the budgeting, hiring, financing, marketing and sales strategies. Furthermore, a well-written business plan is an essential item in securing financing for your venture.
Unless you’re relying solely on online sales, location is key. Scout out areas that will be a good fit for your industry. Downtown St. Joseph is becoming a destination for entertainment and dining. There is no shortage of historic buildings downtown that can add character to your storefront. The Shoppes at North Village has quickly become a retail center. Regardless of the final destination, do your homework to determine what local regulations apply to your business when setting up shop. Not sure where to start? Mo-Kan and the Small Business and Technology Development Center can both help in the process.
When considering your destination, ask yourself if the facility is properly zoned and if it has the appropriate square footage. Is it located on a street where you’ll get plenty of visibility? Does it fit your budget? These are questions you need to ask yourself before you put down your deposit and first month’s rent. St. Joseph has several areas that are prime spots for small businesses, and the rent is far cheaper than what can be found in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
St. Joseph has local regulations that you’ll need to follow to be in compliance. If you’re operating within city limits, you’ll need a business license, which you will apply for at City Hall, 1100 Frederick Ave. Even if your business operates from the home, you still need a business license. Just bring your photo identification and your sales tax letter from the state, if that applies to your business, pay your fee and you’ll receive your business license.
Licenses expire on June 30 each year, at which time you’ll reapply. Fees associated with business licenses vary by industry. Auto repair shops pay $10 whereas a taxi company pays $10 plus $5 per vehicle. A stockyard company pays a flat fee of $1,000. Pool halls pay $7.50 per table.
Beyond licensing, businesses also need to be aware of regulations listed in Chapter 8 of the city’s charter. This chapter deals with everything from penalties for late payment of license tax to restrictions peddling to private police services and security services. For instance, St. Joseph residents have enjoyed an influx food trucks lately, but there are specific regulations they must follow including a provision that requires them to be stationed at least 75 feet from an intersection or 500 feet from a school building.
Once you’ve gotten your business up and rolling there are other regulations to consider when you decide to expand. Refer to the City of St. Joseph’s charter or the City Manager’s office for further details. Some expansions will require the approval of OSHA.
Finally, St. Joseph businesses rely on the resources available at the Small Business and Technology Development Center, Mo-Kan Regional Development and the Chamber are all interested in serving the needs of the small business. If you have questions, each organization can offer insight that provides a great place to start.