This week I found one more resource that is so nifty, I just had to share it right away. It’s listed in the No. 1 spot below, along with 4 more resources that you should know about if you’re interested in starting your own business in Hawaii.
Honolulu-based startup StoryManager, Inc. launched this Web-based app back in January — I sure wish I’d known about it back then, when I first got the idea for this blog. It’s designed to move you from “just thinking” about a business idea to developing a concrete business plan that you can use to get funding and get started.
BizGym offers several fill-in-the-blank templates to choose from, which will guide you in creating a:
- Business plan
- Mission statement
- Elevator pitch
- 5-year financial forecast
- And lots more
All of these templates are interlinked to form an “idea bank,” to which you can gradually add and modify information as your business develops and changes. In addition to its templates, BizGym also offers a bevy of tutorials on topics such as developing a business strategy, analyzing your competitors, planning a product, and more.
The basic version of BizGym is free, and you can even preview the app without registering.
2) Hawaii U.S. Export Assistance Center
If you’re interested in doing business internationally, this resource from the U.S. Commercial Service can help. To qualify, your business must offer a product or service with at least 51% U.S. content.
Many of the center’s services are free, and its Gold Key Service — which matches your business with pre-screened contacts located in the global market that you want to expand into — is reasonably priced: In 2009, it cost $700 for businesses with 500 or fewer employees, and only $350 for those new to exporting. The center’s other services include:
- Customized market research
- Market-entry strategy development
- International documentation assistance
- Logistical support and counseling
- Personalized consulting
3) Pacific Business Center Program
If you’re looking for an inexpensive consultant or coach to help you with management or technical issues related to your business, this affliliate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Business may be just the ticket.
The program offers its services at a fixed hourly rate: In 2009, it was $30/hour for help from an MBA student and $60/hour for assistance from a professional manager. They can help you with a wide variety of business-related matters, including:
- Business plans
- Feasibility studies
- Management consulting
- Market research
- Accounting systems
- Decision analysis
- Executive training
- Financial planning
- Marketing strategies
- Management audits
- Project management
- Operations analysis
- Strategic planning
4) More Local Ventures
This popular local TV show (episodes available online — see above link) showcases real-life examples of small businesses that have been successfully started and grown in Hawaii.
If you’re interested in starting a business in Hawaii, you’ll find the show both insightful and inspirational. And even if you’re not the entrepreneurial type, you’ll still find the episodes entertaining, as they provide a glimpse of real-life Hawaii from a different perspective.
Each 30-minute episode profiles three different businesses from a wide variety of industries. Some of the ventures include:
- Surfing school
- In-vitro fertilization clinic
- Canoe maker
- Custom motorcyles
- Plastic and laser surgery
- High-tech startup
- Jewelry designer
- Koi importer
- Clothing designer
If the business you want to start in Hawaii will require hiring employees, you may want to outsource your human-resource (HR) responsibilities so you can concentrate on other matters. SimplicityHR, a subsidiary of ALTRES (Hawaii’s largest HR company), is one such vendor that you can outsource your HR tasks to.
SimplicityHR ofers three service plans, from basic to all-inclusive, that cover such things as:
- Payroll administration
- Workers’ compensation coverage
- Health care plans
- Employee benefits
- Legal compliance
Their website also has some handy-dandy free guides, which are written especially for Hawaii employers.