starting a business

How to start a food business in Tiffin

Phat CakesWith the influx of new businesses in Tiffin, many of which are food related, we would like to provide information on starting that process. This is a guide describing the steps to opening your food business. This process is required for starting a new food or beverage establishment, a remodeled or altered establishment, when there is a change of ownership or when an establishment has been closed for more than a year.

1. How to Begin: In the Guide to Starting a Food Business you will find a complete description of the process, time frame, fee schedule, additional permit contacts, required equipment and a final inspection checklist. The packet also contains a Review Application which must be completed by the business owner.

2. Submission: To obtain your license, you must submit a set of plans, the completed application and plan review fees to the Seneca County General Health District (SCGHD), which has 30 days to review those items. When plans are approved, the owner must contact the SCGHD to set up a pre-licensing inspection.

3. Pre-licensing Inspection: This inspection will take place after all equipment is in place, cleaning is done and all required inspections are completed by the building, plumbing, electrical and fire agencies.

Please see the Program Guidelines for all of the rules and regulations and/or contact Nicki Rumaschlag with the SCGHD at 419.447.3691 ext. 348 with any questions you may have.

Free small business seminars in Tiffin

Small Business Development Center Director Bill Auxter

Small Business Development Center Director Bill Auxter

Thinking about starting a business? Or wondering how to expand the small business you have already? The Ohio Small Business Development Center at Terra State Community College is offering free, two-hour seminars every month on how to start, buy, or expand a small business. Topics covered include the basics of name registration, licensing, taxes, advisors, business entities, employees, insurance, financing, business planning and more.

Bill Auxter, a small business owner himself (Auxter Printing Services) and Director of the Ohio Small Business Development Center for the area (located in Fremont), will be leading the sessions.

Seminars will be held at the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce, 19 West Market Street, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on the following days:

  • June 10
  • August 12
  • September 9
  • October 14
  • November 11

More information and a complete list of times and locations can be found here. To register, contact Bill Auxter at 419.559.2210 or


Starting a business – Step 5 (paperwork)

OK, you’ve gotten advice and input. You’ve crafted your business plan. You’ve lined up the capital you need. Now, you have to make it official and file all of your paperwork so your business can get up and running. Here are my recommendations:

1. Starting Your Business in Ohio (2014 edition) – the Ohio Development Services Agency puts out a downloadable .pdf that covers a lot of the paperwork issues, including, among other topics.  I recommend reading this to get yourself familiar with what you need to do:

  • Business Name & Legal Structure
  • Independent Contractor v. Employees
  • Taxes
  • Vendor’s License
  • Licenses and Permits
  • Insurance
  • OSHA

2. Get the checklist – ODSA also provides a checklist for more than 250 different types of businesses, from starting an accounting firm to zoo. Simply go to Step 3 at and see if the business you’re planning to do is listed there. Also get this to familiarize yourself with specifics.

2014_04_06 - Sec. of State Quick Start3. Quick Start for Business Entry – once you have that information, I recommend first taking actions listed on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. These apply to almost any business. They include:

  • Registering with Secretary of State
  • Getting your EIN Number
  • Opening a Bank Account
  • Contacting Ohio Dept. of Taxation
  • Employers – New Hire Reporting Center, Workers’ Compensation, Job & Family Services

4. Licensing & Permits – the Ohio Business Gateway also has a listing of many of the professions and the licenses needed to perform them. This should complement what you found at the First Stop Business Connection as well (also housed at the Ohio Business Gateway.)

5. Seek Professional Help (maybe) – at this point I recommend considering whether you want to seek the assistance of a professional individual/firm to do a lot of the paperwork for you. It’s a little like your income taxes – you can do it yourself, but do you want to? Answer – it depends. You can also start with this as step one. The three main “paperwork partners” are going to be an attorney, accountant, and insurance agent. If you need additional specialists (e.g., patent attorneys), they can assist you with that as well. Some of the local specialists (and there are many good ones) who support SIEDC include Gordon Law OfficeSupance & Howard, Meyer & Kerschner (attorneys)Lisa Young CPA (accountant) and United Insurance (insurance.)

6. Redo Starting a Business – Step 1 (advice) – you may want to run what you’re intending to do from a paperwork standpoint by the Small Business Development Center folks. Steve Auxter would be happy to help you with that.

Starting a Business Series Links:

Starting a business – Step 3 (planning)

In Steps 1 and 2, I advocated getting lots of advice – from free publicly subsidized sources, from the internet, and from the marketplace. Now, I’m going to be an advocate for business planning. BUT – it is not necessarily a one size fits all deal. Simply put, a business plan is nothing more than a systematic, thoughtful consideration of the key aspects of your business, from marketing to capital, from costs to produce to employees. I recommend it first and foremost to do it for yourself. It also is a critical document and/or slide deck when you’re trying to raise money…either from a bank or investors. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite resources for business plans and business planning:

  1. SBA – How to Write A Business Plan (SBA’s 3 min. overview video, embedded above)
  2. Wikipedia – Business plan (good written overview of what a business plan is)
  3. SBA/Palo Alto – Developing a Successful Business Plan (free online course given by Tim Berry)
  4. Sequoia Capital – Developing a Business Plan (three articles w/Venture Capital perspective)
  5. StartmeUpVideo – Examples and Best Practices of Business Planning (15 min. interview with Tim Gedeon)
  6. docstocTV – 10 Key Questions to Address: Business Plans (9 min. video on key bullet points of business plans/planning)
  7. UC Berkeley – How to Write a Business Plan (hour long video presentation from 2010 on nuts and bolts)
  8. SBA – How to Write A Business Plan (content hub for components of business plan; each section has other articles…good)
  9. SBA – Create a Business Plan (place to register to get access to SBA’s free Business Plan Tool)
  10. SBA – Two Sample Business Plans (two sample plans, have to cut and paste the first link, but it works)
  11. Forbes (Patrick Lull) – 10 Essential Business Plan Components (blog post, very brief overview)
  12. Inc (Elisabeth Wasserman) – How to Write a Great Business Plan (more detailed overview, further links allow to go deeper)
  13. Inc – How to Structure a Business Plan (content hub with links to 30 relevant articles)
  14. Inc – Business Plans (Pinterest-type links to all articles in Inc relating to business planning)
  15. Bplans – Business Planning Guide (Palo Alto Software’s content hub, 500+ templates, free tool, detailed instructions)
  16. Wikihow – How to Write a Business Plan (medium level of detail, 2 min. video overview)
  17. SCORE – Business Planning and Financial Statements Template Gallery (more than 30 resources)
  18. Entrepreneur – Business Plan Templates (20+ downloadable resources)
  19. Entrepreneur – Top 10 Business Plan Mistakes (self explanatory)
  20. WSJ – Why Business Plans Don’t Deliver (post on 5 most common flaws in business plans)

Starting a Business Series Links:

Starting a business – Step 2 (input)

OK, having started a couple of businesses myself, I am a big proponent of getting plenty of advice and feedback before launching. It doesn’t mean I believe the entrepreneur should listen to everyone who gives “advice.” FedEx’s Fred Smith’s college paper getting a C grade on the idea for the overnight delivery services serves as good warning against that.  That being said, in addition to the advice from Small Business Development Center and Rocket Ventures, there are five other places I would recommend to go to for input:

SCORE – SCORE, the Service Corps Of Retired Executives, is a national nonprofit network of 364 chapters and 13,000+ volunteers started in 1964 in Virginia to help provide advice, mentoring and tools to entrepreneurs and small business owners. The Northwest Ohio SCORE, covering Seneca County and 12 other counties in the region, is located in Toledo and provides about 1200 free, confidential counseling services a year through its face-to-face, seminars, and online tools.

Chamber of Commerce – although the Chamber is best known for helping businesses market themselves and save money through its discounts, I also recommend it as a good place to get input about anyone’s prospective business. The Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce has 300 business members and has a good pulse on the local marketplace. I have found John Detwiler and Deb Martorana are always willing to give an entrepreneur or small business owner their perspective.

Specialty Assistance Centers – there are some very good specialty assistance centers that might be worth a conversation and/or a visit if one is considering starting a business. Minority and/or women-owned businesses should check in with Mark Urrutia at the Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) in Toledo. Manufacturers should check in with Charlie Chambers at the Manufacturing and Technology Small Business Development Center (MTSBDC). Businesses looking to sell to the government (local, state, federal) should speak with the Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Jim Laipply in Columbus heads that up and will be happy to direct you to the closest PTAC.

Marketplace – perhaps the best source for input, I recommend going to businesses in similar industries with whom you will not be competing as well as to prospective customers. Networking here is key (Chamber, Professional Associations, personal network) as well as some cold/warm calling. Don’t be afraid to go to your local library to access the business databases through Reference USA as well.

Professional Associations – should be considered for both the industry the new company will be in as well as for prospective customers. Several lists online, including The Planning Shop’s.

Books, Articles, Videos – I am a big proponent of continual learning. Here are a few good resources to get you started as you build you virtual or literal library: Lifehacks’ 20 Books to Read Before You Start Your Own Business,  Y Combinator Startup Libary, 11 Books Startup Founders Should Read, fortunepick’s List of Must-Read Books for Startups and Entrepreneurs. On YouTube, you can hardly go wrong with videos by Guy Kawasaki, TED talks10 YouTube Videos Every Entrepreneur Should Watch.

Starting a Business Series Links: