Start a Business

When you start a business, there are hundreds of questions that need to be answered. How much money do you really need to start a business? How do you register your business? Who are your target customers, and how should you market to them? You’ll quickly find that coming up with the idea for a new business is the easy part, and actually executing that idea is where it gets interesting.


Build a Plan

A business plan is helpful for small business owners and international moguls alike. Learn tips to get organized, document how your business will function, and discover tools to help guide your decision making process as you pursue entrepreneurial goals.

CCPL offers numerous business resources, including databases, business forms, small business reference centers, and a series of handbooks about business plans. Click here to view business database resources

SCORE Coastal Chapter

SCORE provides one-on-one counseling by appointment at the CCPL Business Center located on the second floor of the Main Library. To request a session, fill out their Local Mentoring Request form, and mention that you’d like to meet at the Main Library. SCORE also offers a variety of low-cost workshops on business planning and additional topics.


Choose a Location 

Selecting a good business location is an important part of the start-up process. Planning and zoning ordinances, business permits and demographic data are helpful to take into account during the site selection process.

Planning and Zoning

Cities and counties each have zoning ordinances that affect where a business can be located. The zoning ordinances for many municipalities are available online, so check with each city and county’s planning and zoning department for details.

Business Licenses and Permits

A business license is required to open a business, and since a license is usually required for each municipality where business services are offered, certain businesses may need more than one license. Please contact each municipality where you will do business for details.


CCPL’s research collection features the DemographicsNow database
Research demographics to learn the age, sex, income and spending patterns of consumers who live near your potential business location. If you have more than one possible location, search each address separately to compare the retail sales potential for each location. A valid Charleston County Public Library card is required to access this database.


Finance a Business

Entrepreneurs use many different types of financial backing to start or expand a small business. Start-up or expansion capital usually consists of a combination of different sources that may include personal savings; loans from friends, relatives, banks or credit unions; or outside sources like venture capital and crowdfunding. It’s best to research types of available funding in order to choose the best combination for your business needs.

Two local organizations provide financial planning assistance:
Charleston Local Development Corporation
The LDC is a not-for-profit corporation that offers loan programs for businesses located in Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester counties. Visit their website for information about their loan programs, and contact them by email or by calling 843-724-3796. 

Revolving Loan Fund from the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments 
The Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments’ Revolving Loan Fund is intended to promote job creation and protection in the Tri-County area. Loan funds can be used to purchase equipment and land, improve real estate and building facilities, and be applied to permanent working capital. Check out a brochure and fact sheet for details, or contact Ron Mitchum for additional assistance.


Some Quick Advice

A business plan isn’t busywork or something you only need if you’re trying to get a loan. Resist the temptation to pay someone to develop your business plan, and respect the business planning process for what it is: the first step to achieving your dream of owning a successful business.  

Once you start drafting a business plan, you may discover that you need additional information to complete your plan. Take advantage of CCPL’s free business resources for your research needs and contact the Main Library Reference Department at (843) 805-6930 for more information about additional support.

Next step: Running a Business