Workshop looks at funding a business

Brandon Johnson

Kathleen Shepard of Craig wants to start a business, but she isn’t exactly sure how to go about it.

Her husband wants to open a taxidermy business, and she wants to open a yoga studio. Shepard wants a facility that could encompass both businesses.

“I don’t know how to go about opening a business with those sorts of things,” Shepard said.

Shepard was one of about 20 people to attend a workshop Wednesday at the Center of Craig about how to get funding for a business.

The workshop, which was put on by the Small Business Development Center, looked at the types of loans available to businesses and some of the things lenders look for.

John Gray, vice president of First National Bank of the Rockies, led Wednesday’s workshop.

“Too many people who start a business significantly underestimate the amount of money they need to run that business,” Gray said.

Gray specializes in commercial loans. During his three-decade career, Gray has negotiated loans for mom and pop businesses and major corporations such as Ford and General Motors.

Gray gave business owners and people hoping to open a business advice on how to get a loan and how to start a business.

He said it’s important for people to assemble the right “team” when they start a business. Gray said that team should include a financial partner to help fund the business, a lawyer to cover legal aspects, an insurer and an accountant.

An accountant is a partner that is often overlooked, Gray said.

“Everybody who has had more than seventh-grade math is absolutely certain they can keep their books and keep them straight,” Gray said.

But business owners often need help managing their finances.

“At worst, have an accountant to back you up,” Gray said.

Gray discussed business loans and cautioned against using credit cards to fund a business because of the steep interest rates.

“They are the biggest possible trap you could have,” Gray said. “My recommendation is: don’t use them.”

Gray also said grants would be a good way to fund a private business, but they are nearly impossible to get.

“Grants are very, very difficult to come by,” Gray said. “There is no free money out there.”

Small Business Development Center Regional Director Kaye Jacobson agreed with Gray.

She said in her career, she has only seen one grant for a private for-profit business, and it was from a quilting association and required businesses to teach quilting.

She also said in the rare instance that a business gets a grant, they are not designed to be a sole source of funding.

“They want to see you have multiple sources of funding,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson said she was happy with the turnout at Wednesday’s workshop.

The Small Business Develop–ment Center hosts regular workshops on a variety of topics, including bookkeeping, starting a business and marketing.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or

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