Local and regional business representatives said they want more resources to help people starting businesses — things such as checklists, videos or road maps that guide a startup step-by-step.
The comments came during a roundtable discussion Thursday organized by the Newport News commissioner of the revenue’s office.
“They need hand-holding,” said Kate Baker of the Retail Alliance, a Norfolk-based merchant association.
Sometimes, people begin at Step 3, have to go back to Step 1 and just end up having to do Step 3 over again, said Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, who also owns several local businesses.
Elizabeth Willis, of the Denbigh-Warwick Business Association, said even longtime business owners don’t always know all that they need. Willis, who works as a tax preparer, recounted an example of an owner who didn’t know all of the paperwork and changes he had to do after his wife died.
Rashad Cartwright, operator of 757blackbiz.com, said he sees people with good ideas and business plans, but who get frustrated by the process of starting up. He said it was in the city’s best interest to do as much as possible to help startups, not only to get the tax revenue going, but also to attract more businesses down the road.
Commissioner of the Revenue Tiffany Boyle was receptive to the idea. She said it wasn’t new to hear about people discouraged by the process of launching a business.
She said her office planned to look at its current resources and see where improvements could be made, particularly a checklist for people to follow and a guide showing where people could go for help.
Discussion around the room also revealed different resources offered by different groups.
Baker highlighted the Retail Alliance’s educational programs, which include both online and in-person lessons. She said sometimes people go through the training and decide not to follow through with their business idea.
That can be a positive result, she said, because training might help a person realize they were taking on more than they could handle or that their idea might not work.
Debra Hamilton-Farley, of the Small Business Development Center, said her office also offers education and refers people to accountants and lawyers for consultations.
Davis agreed that sometimes there was a lack of awareness. He said he didn’t know about Score, a nonprofit that mentors small businesses, until years after he got started.
Boyle said she would plan more roundtables on different subjects, including one to hear more about improving her office’s services.