By Shawn Annarelli Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.)
Tyler Yohe and Jennifer Finley-Short look at online businesses from opposite perspectives.
Yohe, of Bellefonte, has owned online gaming businesses brokencrowngames.com and brokencrayongames.com for three years. Finley-Short, of State College, is in the beginning stages of planning an online wedding jewelry business.
They found themselves in the same room Tuesday learning about running an online business despite their differences in experience. About 30 entrepreneurs attended a seminar about starting an online business hosted by the Penn State Small Business Development Center and Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program.
"If you have a business in today's world, you need to have a website," PennTAP advanced IT team lead Donna Yale said.
SBDC business consultant Ben-David Kaminski touched on legal aspects of starting a business.
He said the best place to register a business is on pabizonline.com. The website is the state's hub of information on starting a business and running a business and legalities. It also offers resources for helping with everything from business development to taxes.
Yohe, whose businesses employ about 50 people, said it's worth his time to attend seminars by the SBDC.
"I found out about the Small Business Development Center about a year after I started the business," he said. "It's a great resource.
They streamline a lot of the stuff that I spent weeks or months looking for online. If I had come in for a seminar or to meet with them I could have found some things out in hours instead of weeks and months."
Yohe said he usually learns something new at the seminars, but they mainly serve as a reminder to keep his business up-to-date.
"A lot of things they talk about at these things I've already done, but they're a great refresher to stay on top of some things," Yohe said. "Sometimes when you're running a business some things get put on hold, but you can't forget about it ... for instance, they were discussing database security stuff. My tech guy does a lot of that right now, so that's a little reminder to check that he's on top of it."
Finley-Short hopes to launch her online business by the end of this year.
She was surprised at how much it could cost -- $1,000 to $10,000 -- to start an e-commerce website.
"I don't have much of a background to know what it takes to build and maintain an online business, so this is great for me," Finley-Short said. "It's probably slowed the process down for me, because they make you think about the whole list and big picture for everything you have to do. You need to plan through everything, because you want to do it right."
Yale advised entrepreneurs to look for different developers before choosing one.
"I once had a new business owner that wanted to go online, and a developer gave them a $60,000 quote," Yale said. "I told them I wouldn't do it. I took their idea to two developers, and one said $5,000, and the other said $10,000. That's a big difference from $60,000 for the same website."
PennTAP will host an energy showcase April 7. The next SBDC seminar will be May 12.