Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Support for Startups

Whether you’re formally pursuing Duke’s LL.M in Law & Entrepreneurship or just casually kicking around a business idea with friends, you might already be incubating the next Facebook, the latest local hot-spot restaurant, or a community-enriching nonprofit (such as Durham’s Coalition to Unchain Dogs). But turning a business idea into reality is a complex process, and few people possess both the business and legal acumen to go it alone. While the Goodson Law Library staff cannot provide legal advice on starting a business, the Goodson Blogson can point you to some helpful resources to get your idea beyond the brainstorming phase.

Unsurprisingly, the Ford Library at the Fuqua School of Business houses the majority of Duke's print resources on starting a business (like the recent Technology Ventures: From Idea to Enterprise), but the Duke University community also has access to a number of relevant e-books, such as The Small Business Start-Up Kit (2004) and Legal Guide for Starting & Running a Small Business (2008). You can access these titles and others like them with a search of the Duke University Libraries catalog for subject keywords like "small business" and "new business enterprises," or general keywords like "starting business."

Additional information can be found on the web. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides free guidance to would-be entrepreneurs; its Starting & Managing a Business section offers practical tips from writing a business plan, to estimating startup costs, to effective marketing. More locally, the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center works in partnership with the federal SBA to provide resources and services to in-state business owners, including a number of free publications on topics like financing opportunities and intellectual property issues.

For local entrepreneurs with a well-formed concept, Durham’s Startup Stampede might be just the support you need to get your idea off the ground. The project, sponsored by the city and county governments, the local Chamber of Commerce, and other local organizations, will offer fifteen startups free high-tech office space downtown for 60 days, as well as access to small-business experts for consultation and advice. Applications are due by Friday, March 11, and the final fifteen will be notified by March 18. Will Duke Law be represented in the stampede? We sure hope so!