Whether you simply have an idea or are far along in your planning, Worcester wants to make it easy for entrepreneurs to start their businesses here.
“It really behooves us to promote and leverage the agencies and strengths that encourage the entrepreneurial spirits and ideas in Worcester,” said Timothy P. Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re living in an increasingly mobile society,” Murray said. “All the data points to the fact that people will have multiple careers or multiple jobs. Encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship ensures the city can be as competitive as possible.”
Murray also said the resources in Worcester support programs at local colleges that teach entrepreneurship. StartUp Worcester is one such example. It is an initiative of the Chamber’s Higher Education-Business Partnership, The Venture Forum and Running Start.
In addition, Murray said, programs from the city and the Small Business Administration try to make it easier for immigrants, who may have owned businesses in other countries, to start businesses in Worcester.
The city’s Division of Business and Community Development, formerly the Division of Business Assistance, offers a range of services, said Peter Dunn, business program manager.
“We can help you navigate government licensing and permitting processes,” he said. In addition, the office can help you determine your needs and direct you toward a number of agencies that provide low- or no-cost services and programs, he said.
If you’re in doubt about where to begin, start there. The Division of Business and Community Development is located on the fourth floor of City Hall. The phone number is (508) 799-1400, the email address email@example.com.
In addition, the Worcester Resource Business Alliance is a centralized network of 20 organizations that stands ready to help small businesses.
Among the organizations Bator and Tal Lachmann tapped after contacting the city was the Small Business Development Center at Clark University.
At Clark, they met Arthur Martin, senior business and technical specialist. He helped Bator formulate her idea into a tangible business plan.
Even though he knew conventional bank financing was “near impossible” for a restaurant, “I saw the idea was viable and that they were committed to this,” Martin said. “They are good people and I knew they were going to make this work.”
Not that that is the answer all the time. “I don’t always encourage that,” he said.
Starting a business, even doing something you love or are good at, is a big change, he said. Your primary occupation becomes business owner. If you’re fortunate enough to be so successful that you can hire someone to run the business, and you’re able to go back to doing just what you love or are good at, “that’s a great thing,” Martin said.
In the end, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. “Sometimes people think they can do it (operate a business), and they don’t like it anymore.”
But for those who do, who are ready to make the leap, there is help out there. You just need to ask for it.
Disclosure: The owners of the Worcester Sun worked with Arthur Martin during the early stages of business planning.