Thinking of Starting a Business?

Staten Island Business Groups Offer Plenty of Resources BY: Jessica Jones-Gorman

John J. Amodio, Chairman of SCORE-Staten Island.

On June 27, the Staten Island chapter of SCORE hosted an educational workshop detailing the myths and realities of entrepreneurship. Titled “So You Want to Start Your Own Business,” the information session detailed different types of business structures, the legal components of business ownership as well as the basics of business planning. For many in attendance it was an enlightening look at the risk and reward of business ownership, but for SCORE, which hosts these instructive workshops on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis, it was just a small part of the education and mentorship it regularly provides.

“SCORE is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground,” noted John J. Amodio, chairman of SCORE, which is headquartered on Fingerboard Road. “There’s a lot involved when it comes to opening your own business, and our group is committed to simplifying the process as much as we can.”

Founded in 1964 with the support of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the group features a staff of local mentors who have proven to be successful in their fields, as well as a network of volunteers across the country who provide valuable resources to fledgling companies. Business mentoring is free and the workshops are inexpensive. Tools, templates and tips are offered online seven days a week.

“When a business owner enlists our help we meet with them face-to-face and go over their ideas and business plan,” Amodio said. “We break down the different types of businesses — corporations, partnerships — and then talk about insurance, loans and marketing. Subsequent meetings evaluate the business’ progress.”

SCORE aids developed businesses too, offering help with accounting, social media and any other concern that falls within its expertise. If a local volunteer cannot assist with a client’s issue, SCORE reaches out to someone who can.

“Collectively, we have years of experience,” Amodio said. “What we bring to the table is real-life know-how; we’ve learned through our own failures and can help others avoid the same mistakes. And because we partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are approximately 10,000 volunteers throughout the country who can offer their expertise to local business owners.”

And SCORE’s services are just a portion of the valued resources offered to Staten Island business owners.

“All New Yorkers with a dream to own their own business should know that the City is here to help,” said Gregg Bishop, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services. “We support new and existing small businesses through our NYC Business Solutions Centers, located across all five boroughs. From business courses, to help with navigating government or legal assistance, our services are completely free of charge.”

The department, which offers step-by-step guidelines on launching a business on its website, www.nyc.gov/sbs, including information on how to create a business plan, register your business, finance your business and find and plan your space, also staffs an office at 120 Stuyvesant Place in St. George where business owners are walked through the process of entrepreneurship.

Information about licensing and permits, financing and insurance is easily accessible at this location.

The Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, whose mission is to enhance Staten Island’s economy and encourage the development of new business, recently opened up its spare desk space to creative start-ups in need of a dedicated work area.

Titled Start-Up Station, the incubator program serves as a valuable resource for small web-based businesses that are still in their infancy.

“The office space is shared between about 10 businesses who all agree to and follow a schedule throughout the week for a term period of six months. The space is very collaborative and a friendly environment,” the SIEDC said in a statement. “We also grant some access to our outgoing phone lines, printers and wifi.”

Free marketing guidance, network assistance and business development services are also offered to participants. For more information, visit siedc.org/signature-projects.