How do I obtain a domain name for my business?
Start by going to Network Solution's "Whois," an online directory of domain names at http://www.networksolutions.com. Type in the domain name you have in mind, click on "search" and the site will tell you whether or not that name is already registered. If the name you've chosen is not already registered, you can pay Network Solutions $35 annually for the rights to use the domain name.
Registering with Network Solutions will give your company the right to use its domain name, such as mycompany.com, on the Internet. Your business will still need to check whether its name has been registered as a trademark and, if not, secure trademark rights for your state and/or nationally. You can check your trademark status at Thomson & Thomson's web site at http://www.thomson-thomson.com.
Can you name a "good" reference (book) that can be used in the creation of a business plan for a restaurant?
The National Restaurant Association -- the trade/industry group for the restaurant industry -- has a number of publications you may find useful. They include:
Restaurant Starter Kit -- This kit contains a variety of resources for aspiring restaurant operators, including articles on concept and menu development, site selection, financing, and writing business plans. Also included are bibliographies on starting and managing a restaurant. It is free to Restaurant Association members, and $12 for non-members.
A Guide To Preparing A Restaurant Business Plan -- This book includes an outline for writing your business plan with examples for each section, and discusses issues unique to restaurant operations. The guide also includes a list of where you can go in your area for additional assistance. It is $48.95 for non-members; $24.95 for members.
You can find more information on these publications on the National Restaurant Association's web site at http://www.restaurant.org (click on "Publications). Or they can be ordered by calling 800-482-9122.
How can I find profiles on typical bed and breakfast customers coming to the Escambia County area in Florida? I need to know where these people are coming from and what age they are, etc. I am not in the business yet. Thank you.
There are a couple of places you might try to locate these kinds of statistics.
Trade and industry groups often conduct extensive market research, and make this research available to members. While they often focus on national or statewide trends, you might find local stats through a group's local chapter. One organization you might want to contact is:
American Bed and Breakfast Association
10800 Midlothian Parkway
Richmond, VA 23235
Local Chamber of Commerce
Chambers also often conduct market research. They primarily focus on economic development issues, but if tourism is a key industry, they probably will cover it.
State or local tourist office
Finally, get in touch with the tourist office for Florida, or better yet, Escambia County. They should be able to direct you to studies and other tourist demographics. You'll be able to find contact info in the government pages of your phone directory.
How do I find suppliers for my business?
Attend trade shows
Trade shows are a great place to track down suppliers and wholesalers. You'll be able to find out what's new in your industry, build relationships with potential suppliers, and even place orders. To track trade shows, go to one of the online trade show search sites like Trade Show News Network (http://www.tsnn.com) .
What is a unique selling proposition?
Your USP is the proprietary information that sets your product or service apart from your competition; it is critical to your discussion of your products. Your positioning, however, is based on the niche your product or service fills. It is your identity in the marketplace: how you want the market and your competitors to perceive your product or service. Your positioning is based on the perceived needs you fill. When creating your positioning statement, think in terms of extremes -- the "most," the "best," the "fastest," the "cheapest," the "only," etc.