Build your business here
Starting a new business in Lawrenceville? Improve your chances of success with thorough planning. In Pittsburgh, there are a number of free resources for business planning and financing assistance.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)
The URA operates economic development programs, including business loans and building improvement financing. Visit them online or call 412-255-6600.
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
The SBDC is a national program funded by the Small Business Administration, state, university, public and private agencies with a mission to provide management and technical assistance to small businesses in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The SBDC offers one-to-one and team consulting for small business clients at no cost. SBDC consultants provide group and customized management consulting on topics including market research and marketing strategy, financial planning and cash-flow analysis, loan proposal preparation, taxes, and licensing procedures and regulations.
Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA is a resource for financial and educational assistance. This government agency provides financing for small business; these are your tax dollars at work, and their services are free of charge. Call the local office at 412-395-6560.
Department of Community of Economic Development (DCED)
This PA Business One Stop Shop website provides online business registration, application forms, program information and networking; or call 1-833-722-6778.
Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC)
Provides business skills workshops for artists as well as grant opportunities. Visit them online or call them at 412-391-2060.
Kiva is a crowd-funded 0% interest loan program. Lawrenceville Corporation has acted as a trustee for Lawrenceville based businesses receiving Kiva funding. For more information about Kiva go to kiva.org.
10 Steps to Starting Up in Lawrenceville
The latest statistics from the Small Business Administration (SBA) show that two-thirds of new employer establishments survive at least two years, and 44 percent survive at least four years. Savvy up-front planning can make the difference. We offer these tips to businesses interested in launching in Lawrenceville.
The most critical element of your business success, your business plan will define your vision, hone in on your target market, and plan your financing. With some basic research and free assistance from an SBDC, you can develop a solid, sustainable plan before you spend a dime.
Not every great idea can become a sustainable business. Your business plan will help you answer two key questions:
1.) Is there a market for your product or service? And…
2.) Will you be profitable?
In addition to research tools available through the SBA, other Lawrenceville businesses may be able to help you plan your revenue calculations; contact the Lawrenceville Corporation for more information.
The SBDC can guide you to the steps for registering your business, filing tax information, and obtaining other permits required for your operations. Planning ahead can prevent delays when you’re ready to open your doors.
As the saying goes, you need to spend money to make money. As a general guide, the SBA recommends starting a business with sufficient cash to cover at least one year’s operating expenses, including the owner’s salary and money to make regular loan payments.
Again, your business plan can show you how much of your own cash you will need to invest, as well as equip you for conversations with financial institutions about loans or lines of credit. Of course, a thorough business plan is a pre-requisite for approval. Once you have it, talk to a local financing source.
Your search for the right location will be more fruitful when you have a keen sense of your budget, target market, and space requirements. As a first order, you will need to determine whether you should rent or buy. There are advantages and disadvantages to both but in either case, you’ll need to know how much you can afford based on your projected revenues and expenses.
And where will you find that information? That’s right…your business plan. Visit our online directory of available commercial properties in Lawrenceville. Developers of multi-acreage or multi-unit sites are encouraged to contact the Lawrenceville Corporation.
Depending on your business and location/space type, you may need to apply for a zoning variance from the City of Pittsburgh. Start by visiting the City of Pittsburgh Zoning Counter to learn which standards apply to your place of business. You may need to apply for a variance, which may be approved at-the-counter or require a hearing.
If a hearing is required, you might strengthen your position with a letter of support from the community. For questions about soliciting community input on your zoning variance, contact the Lawrenceville Corporation.
If you’re buying a commercial property on Butler Street or Penn Avenue, you may be eligible for a Streetface Façade Renovation Grant, a forgivable loan that covers up to 40% of the cost of your façade renovation. Streetface funds may also help cover the architectural design fees. Streetface funds are controlled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, which requires a letter of support from the local community development corporation. To find out more, contact the Lawrenceville Corporation. Businesses off of Butler and Penn Avenue may be eligible for a $5,000 façade renovation grant.
While marketing is a component of your business plan, we feel that it’s so important for the success of your business that we include it as a separate step. According to the SBA, some small businesses underestimate the costs and value of advertising. They recommend that new businesses should spend about 5 percent of projected gross revenue on advertising; an established business should budget 2 to 3 percent of gross revenue. Develop a comprehensive plan that addresses advertising, public relations, events, and other promotions. Again, the SBA can help you think through the most effective marketing tools to reach your target market.
Once your financing is in place and you’ve purchased or leased a space, contact the Lawrenceville Corporation. The LC helps to ensure the continued success of Lawrenceville’s business districts and can share information about resources for district marketing and promotional support. Also, introduce yourself to neighboring businesses. Lawrenceville’s business community is very close-knit, and they’ll be sure to give a warm welcome.
There’s no better way to make yourself known than hosting a grand opening. Service businesses can host an open house; retail businesses might offer a special promotion. Your event might include publicity to attract the general public, or simply an exclusive invitation to your target customer mailing list and neighboring business owners. Contact the Lawrenceville Corporation for advice and recommended resources.
Take pride in opening your venture….but remember that your business demands steady care and feeding, including continual review and revision of your business and marketing plans. Take advantage of the ideas and contacts that you can make through the community and the Lawrenceville Corporation—after all, the camaraderie is what makes Lawrenceville such a great place for business!