First Tennessee Small Business Center

First Tennessee Bank and the Memphis Public Library have formed a unique partnership. Working together, we've created one centrally-located facility that serves as a resource, referral and distribution center for Mid-South businesses.

Located in the Business/Science Department of the Central  Library, the Small Business Center is geared to serve the potential small business owner, the recently-licensed entrepreneur and the established small business operator.

Included in the pages here are some specialized Small Business Center resources and internet resources that will help you accomplish the steps you need to take.

A library online publication, "Where to Go for Small Business Information in Memphis and Shelby County," highlights other agencies in the area that assist, in various ways, those interested in small business ownership.


Information about Grants

Small Business Programs 

SBA Small Business Blog

Where to Go for Small Business Information in Memphis & Shelby County

Business Law


Business Plans

Business Plan Links from SBDCNET   The Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse (SBDCNET) links include general business plans as well as specific business plans.  Plans or guides are available for businesses such as Bed & Breakfast, Construction Firm, General Retail, Publishing, and more.

Essential Elements of a Good Business Plan    The United States Small Business Administration gives an extremely detailed outline of a business plan recommended for potential business owners to use as a model when developing a plan of their own.

Sample Business Plans from TSBDC    Tennessee Small Business Development Centers provide the small business developer with examples of business plans for particular businesses and show how other entrepreneurs have compiled their information. 

SCORE Templates for Your Business    Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) provides a gallery of business plans and financial and accounting statements.  SCORE is a national nonprofit association dedicated to helping entrepreneurs.

Sample Business Plan

Small Business Plan
by the
Tennessee Small Business Development Center

The following pages will provide the reader with an outline and an example of a business plan. This presentation is general in nature because a business plan is a personal statement that reflects individual goals. The reader should, however, be able to take this example and construct his own plan for use in developing the business.


  1. Cover or Title Sheet (optional)
  2. Table of Contents (optional)
  3. The Executive Summary
  4. The Company and the Industry
  5. Products and Services
  6. Marketing Plan
  7. Market Research and Analysis
  8. Proforma Financial Statements
  9. Time Schedule

  1. Cover or Title Sheet (optional)
  2. Table of Contents (optional)
  3. The Executive Summary:
    A brief summation of company goals, critical factors, products and services, markets and industry, management, financial position and projected performance.
  4. The Company and the Industry

    1. Describe the industry/business/market this firm will operate in.
      1. What is the "real" product this industry/business/firm offers?
      2. How does this firm fit into this industry?
      3. What are the particular advantages and disadvantages of this firm?
    2. Describe the business organization, ownership, and management team.
      1. Sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation?
      2. Who are the owners and what do they add to the firm?
      3. Who is running the business; what are their qualifications?
    3. Describe what the firm hopes to achieve by being in business.
      1. Use measurable objective criteria.
      2. Define personal, business, financial and social goals.
      3. Explain how the firm expects to achieve these goals.
  5. Products and Services

    1. Describe exactly what products/goods/service will be offered.
      1. How is the product unique/different/better than similar products?
      2. What kind of people/customers/clients will need/want this uniqueness?
      3. How will this product be produce/purchased/supplied?
    2. Describe briefly the substitutes (competition) for this product.
      1. Who, What, and Where are competitors for this product?
      2. How will this firm minimize any, advantages competitors have?
      3. How will this firm maximize any advantages this product has?
    3. Explain the relevant costs and selling price of this product.
      1. Why would people/customers/clients pay this price for this product?
      2. How does this price compare with competitive pricing?
      3. How does the firm justify the difference, if any?
    4. Describe the potential for this product or service.
      1. Potential for product/service market penetration?
      2. Potential for product/service in new market growth?
      3. Potential for product/service development and/or diversification?
  6. Marketing Plan

    1. Describe the general marketing philosophy and strategy of the firm.
      1. What kind of firms/customers/clients are the "target market" of this finn?
      2. How will the finn adapt products to meet the needs of this target market.
      3. What is included in the product; packaging service, and warranty?
    2. Describe the distribution method(s) to be used with these product(s)?
      1. Where are the potential customers for these particular product(s)?
      2. Where do these potential customers buy these particular product(s)?
      3. How will these product(s) be delivered to these particular customers?
    3. Describe pricing objective and strategy of the firm.
      1. What exactly is being sold? What is included? What is extra?
      2. Pricing policy; penetration or skimming? Introductory price? Discounts?
      3. Does this pricing policy 'fit" the target market the firm has selected?
      4. How does this pricing policy compare with competitive policies?
      5. Can the firm make a profit with these pricing policies?
    4. Describe anticipated promotional activities and results expected.
      1. What are product advantages that will attract the selected customers?
      2. How will the "target market" be informed of these product advantages?
      3. How will intermediate channel members be made aware of these advantages?
      4. How will competitors react to these promotional activities?
  7. Market Research and Analysis

    1. Identify and describe the firms selected target customers.
      1. Why do or why will these customers purchase the firm's product(s)?
      2. Who, What, Where, and When are the firm's present and past customers?
      3. Who, What, Where, and When are the firm's potential customers? Why?
    2. Identify and describe total and target market size and trends.
      1. What is the firm's current market? Identify size and trends.
      2. What is the firm's potential market? Identify size and trends.
      3. What are the industry, economic, social, population, and government factors involved?
    3. Identify and describe competitive market share and size.
      1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of competitive products/services?
      2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of competitive firms?
      3. How can the firm take advantage of these competitive shortcomings?
    4. Identify and estimate market share and size.
      1. How many of these customers can the firm reasonably expect to reach?
      2. How many of these customers have the time and money to purchase these products?
      3. How many sales can the finn reasonably expect to make to these customers?
      4. Identify major first year customers; How & Why?
      5. What supporting professional services will be required, if any?
  8. Proforma Financial Statements

    1. Identify and explain all costs of establishing this firm/product/project.
    2. Identify and explain all costs of operating this firm/product/project.
    3. Identify and explain the assets the owners of the firms can contribute.
    4. Identify and explain the capital needed from outside the firm.
    5. Identify and explain how this capital will generate funds for investors/lenders.
    6. Identify and explain security used to guarantee returns/payment.
    7. Identify lines of communication between the firm and investors/lenders.
  9. Time Schedule

    1. Place all details of the plan in a time sequence.
      1. Events on the near horizon are minutely detailed.
      2. Time, legal and regulatory requirements are listed.
      3. Specific dates and times are assigned to each event.
    2. Middle horizon events are planned with approximated dates.
    3. Far horizon or future events are estimated for planning purposes.
    4. Time schedule is constantly updated.


Demographic Information

Demographic information about people in particular areas includes such characteristics as age, education, income, and gender. The prime source for demographic information is the U.S. Census. In addition, there are a number of other privately published demographic sources available in the Department.

Included in the pages below are some of the paper sources available in the Business and Sciences Department, as well as some WWW links that will be helpful to anyone seeking demographic information.

Specialized Small Business Resources

(These resources are available in PRINT in the Business & Science Department. Please ask for assistance at the Reference Desk.)

The Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios uses "the latest available IRS figures on U.S. and international companies, and tracks 50 operating and financial factors in 192 industries." It provides "competitive norms in dollar amounts of revenue and provides other critical financial factors in percentage, including debt ratio, return on assets, return on equity, profit margin, and more."

RMA Annual Statement Studies is a source of detailed industry financial data for comparing businesses to industry in valuation reports, company/industry ratio analyses and credit decisions.

The Small Business Sourcebook is "a guide to the information services and sources provided to many small businesses by associations, consultants, educational programs, franchisers, government agencies (federal, state, and local), reference works, statisticians, suppliers, trade shows, and venture capital firms." When other sources fail to provide information on a specific business, the Small Business Sourcebook often has useful resources.

Dun & Bradstreet's Regional Business Directory provides business listings for providers of business services; finance, insurance and real estate; transportation, communication, & public utilities; retail trade; wholesale trade; manufacturing; construction; and mining. Each business listed includes the company name, address, telephone, D-U-N-S number, primary line of business, SIC codes, number of employees by location and by company, annual sales volume, key officers, date established and/or ticker symbol if publicly traded. The directory is arranged in three volumes. The first volume organizes information geographically (alphabetically by city and, within each city, sorted by zip code). The second volume organizes the information by industry for easy cross-reference. Finally, the third volume organizes company names alphabetically for quick cross-reference.

The Editor and Publisher Market Guide offers individual market surveys of all U.S. and Canadian cities where a daily newspaper is published. Data provided for each city includes information on its location, population, transportation, number of banks, principal industries, retail establishments, climate and newspapers.

The Community Sourcebook of Zip Code Demographics provides statistics about people, households, personal income, labor force, housing and spending habits by zip code. It also provides statistics about business establishments by zip code indicating number of firms, top employment industry and number of employees as well as consumer types.

WWW Resources

(These resources are available in PRINT in the Business & Science Department and ONLINE. Please ask for assistance at the Reference Desk.)

The Census Bureau's website ( provides a wealth of information for business people. It contains the official statistics of the U.S. Census Bureau, and a wide variety of demographics for Memphis, as well as for other areas of Tennessee and the rest of the country. This site can provide much help to any business owner, anyone doing market research, or anyone who is writing a business plan. By starting at American FactFinder (see the left column on the Census homepage), a street address can be entered to find Census 2000 data on the local level. To obtain basic demographic data, consult Summary File 1. Summary File 2 provides detailed data about racial groups in America and Summary File 3 provides social, economic and housing data accessible for all geographic levels.

County Business Patterns ( is useful for studying the economic activity of small areas such as counties (Shelby County, for example), metropolitan statistical areas (such as Memphis, TN-AR-MS MSA), by zip code(s) and/or by the United States. Find out the number of similar businesses in your area and their size. Also allows you to compare with other geographical areas. Use the data to analyze market potential, measure the effectiveness of sales and advertising programs, set sales quotas, and develop budgets.

The Economic Census (, compiled every 5 years, is a great resource for detailed information about businesses by sector and location. Your business can use this resource to gauge competition, calculate market share, determine sales territories and quotas, and evaluate opportunities. For example, you can find the number of establishments, sales, annual payroll, and number of paid employees by zip code for your industry or business type.

Online versions of the Statistical Abstract of the United States (available online in .pdf format for the years 1995 through 2000 and 2001 through 2003 at contain a collection of statistics on social and economic conditions in the United States.

The County and City Data Book  is a local area supplement to the Statistical Abstract of the United States and contains detailed demographic and economic information for counties and cities arranged alphabetically by state in tabular form.

The State and Metropolitan Area Data Book (available online in .pdf format at is a local area supplement to the Statistical Abstract of the United States and contains a summary of statistics on the social, political and economic organizations of the states and metropolitan areas.

(These resources below are available only ONLINE.)

MapStats provides statistical information on agriculture, crime, population, business and environment at the state, county and city level.

The Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce website offers helpful economic and demographic information about the Metro area. From its home page, the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce provides insight to living and working in Memphis. Additionally, the website offers insight into Memphis business that includes information on taxes, training, location selection, incentives and much more.

The Census Bureau provides statistics about businesses in terms of employers and non-employers, size, receipts, and legal form of organizations, and allows users to define business categories in any of these ways.

The Small Business Administration, through their Office of Advocacy, collects statistics of U.S. businesses with status as "employer firms" and "non-employer firms". In particular, a non-employer firm is defined as one that has no paid employees, has annual business receipts of at least $1,000, and is subject to federal income taxes.

The Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research/Center for Manpower Studies (also known as Sparks BBER) websites offers data and analysis of demographic, economic, and business trends in the Mid-South. For Memphis demographics, there is a link on the site called “Memphis MSA,†which gives detailed statistics and information about the city.

Entrepreneur Resources













A grant is a transfer of money usually from a non-profit agency or government agency to another non-profit or government agency.  A grant may be given to an individual (such as a scholarship or fellowship) but it is more often given to an organization.

When a grant is given, there are usually no requirements to repay the money.  The library often gets inquiries about how to get free money or grants to meet a particular need, such as starting a business, home repair, education and other personal needs.  While grants might not be available in every situation, other forms of assistance include loans, loan insurance, business consultation, and technical assistance.  These types of support are still very valuable.  The following are some frequently asked questions and answers about locating grants and other types of assistance.

Common Questions:
I want to find out more about government aid.  Where do I start?
What is a non-profit organization?  Can I get money from them?
I work with a non-profit organization.  What resources are available for my group?
Can my church apply for grants and assistance?
I would like to start a for-profit business.  What assistance is available for me?
I need help fixing up my house.  Can the government help?
Is there funding available for education, artistic projects or other personal needs?

I want to find out more about government aid.  Where do I start?

Most government grants go to states, cities, or non-profit organizations so that these groups can provide programs and services to individuals.  Grants for higher education are one exception where grants go to individuals.  To apply for higher education grants and loans from the federal government, you will need to submit a completed FAFSA form.  The FAFSA form is available at some library branches and is available online at

For information about other government assistance for individuals, try the GovBenefits website at  Answer a few questions and then view a list of government programs that may be appropriate for you along with information about how you can apply.

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) is the government publication that lists all of the federal programs that provide assistance to states, cities, businesses, as well as individuals.  This assistance includes financial and non-financial help.  This list can be found at the website:  The list can be searched in many ways; look for the links type of assistance and applicant eligibility.

The Central Library also has a copy of the Government Assistance Almanac.  This book lists the same programs found in the CFDA online, but many users find the almanac easier to use.  The Government Assistance Almanac is kept at the Business/Science reference desk at the Central Library and is available to use within the library, but cannot be checked out.

If you are looking for grants geared towards organizations, you might be interested in this website:, where federal government agencies post grant announcements. You can sign up to receive grant announcements by e-mail and apply for appropriate grants online.


What is a non-profit organization? Can I get money from them?

A non-profit organization is an organization that either does not make money or uses all of its profits to advance its services and programs.  The owners of a non-profit organization do not get to keep any earnings.  IRS regulations make it very difficult for non-profit organizations to give money directly to individuals.  These agencies may have programs that help people but the aid is usually not in the form of free money.


I work with a non-profit organization.  What resources are available for my group?

The Central Library's Nonprofit Resource Center is a special collection of resources located on the third floor in the Business & Science Department.  Whether you are just starting to research a nonprofit venture or would like to strengthen an existing one, there is a wealth of information available in a variety of formats: books, videos, periodicals, and online tools.  As a Cooperating Collection of the Foundation Center, this center maintains numerous directories of grants and grantmakers.


Can my church apply for grants and assistance?

The church, as an organization, can apply for grants and funding from private foundations and other charitable groups.


I would like to start a for-profit business.  What assistance is available for me?

Generally, the grants available to business are intended for disaster relief, agriculture, and the development of technology.  However, there are many sources of non-grant help in the Memphis area:

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) offers free assistance to help business owners grow and develop successful, thriving businesses.  The TSBDC gives advice about banking, sources of capital, business proposals, and more.  Contact them at 901-526-9300 (Renaissance Center) or 901-333-5058 (SWCC).  Their website can be found at

The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a nonprofit association dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with free, confidential, face-to-face counseling. Contact this group at 901-544-3588.  The SCORE website can be found at

The Small Business Administration (SBA) does not provide grants or loans to small business.  Instead, the SBA offers loan guarantees so that businesses will be more attractive to local lenders such as banks or venture capitalists.  You can find helpful information on the SBA website located at  The Tennessee district office of the SBA is located at 555 Beale Street.  Call 901-526-9300 for more information on their services.

For more local organizations that offer assistance, check out "Where to go for Small Business Information in Memphis & Shelby County" on the library's website: 

I need help fixing up my house. Can the government help?

The government agency to contact is the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Loans and loan-guarantee programs are available for buying, repairing, and rehabilitating homes if you meet their conditions.  Information about these programs can be found on the HUD website: You can also contact the local HUD office at 901-544-3367.


Is there funding available for education, artistic projects or other personal needs?

The library has several reference books that can be useful in locating scholarships for higher education.  Additionally, the Foundation Center website has a great page that lists starting points for these areas.  This page is located at


The Central Library's Business & Science Department has several collections that are related to grants and other types of assistance.  The Nonprofit Resource Center contains resources primarily for non-profit organizations including grant and proposal writing, working with volunteers and fundraising.  The First Tennessee Small Business Center is made available to help entrepreneurs and existing businesses start or expand their business with resources such as books, videos, government publications and periodicals.  The Job and Career Center has scholarship books to locate sources of funding for education.  Come and visit these centers on the third floor of the Central Library or check out suggested online resources at

Importing & Exporting




     Looking for health coverage in the (SHOP) Marketplace?  The Small Business          Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace helps businesses provide health          coverage to their employees.  This Marketplace is open to employers with 50        or fewer full-time-equivalent employees (FTEs).



Licenses & Permits

Specialized Small Business Center Resources

WWW Resources





Procurement: Doing Business with the Government

The government buys goods and services at the local government level, the state government level and the federal government level. Your business must qualify to do business with the government. Each government level and each buying agency has specific requirements that must be met before a contract will be awarded. Be sure to review the requirements of each agency to increase your chances of winning a bid!

The "Other Opportunities" link below offers information on services available to assist your business in winning a government contract. These services (most of which are free) may provide the competitive edge your business needs to successfully win a government contract! Be sure to take full advantage of the services that are available.

Local Opportunities

Tennessee Opportunities

Federal Opportunities

Other Opportunities

Procurement Opportunities by State

The website links below connect to each state's purchasing department. These websites will provide the information necessary for completing registration requirements in order to do business with a particular state.



WWW Resources


Running and Growing a Business


Small Business Programs

The First Tennessee Small Business Center, located in the Business/Sciences Department at the Central Library, is sponsoring programs in order to help in starting, growing, and running a small business. These programs are presented by several agencies in the Memphis area, are free and require no pre-registration.

Fall 2014
Business and Sciences Department
Third Floor
3030 Poplar Avenue


 ALL Programs are on Thursdays at 6:00 pm


Sept. 11            Small Business Start Up                                                                                                Tennessee Small Business Development Center

Sept. 18            Developing a Winning Business Plan                                                                       Tennesse Small Business Development Center

Sept. 25            How to Write a Business Plan                                                                              SCORE


Oct. 9                Small Business Start Up                                                                                                Tennessee Small Business Development Center

Oct. 16              Small Business Start Up                                                                                                Tennessee Small Business Development Center

Oct 23               Franchise Ownership as a Viable Career Option                                                      SCORE


Nov. 6               Small Business Start Up                                                                                               Tennessee Small Business Development Center

Nov. 13             Developing a Winning Business Plan                                                                          Tennessee Small Business Development Center

Nov. 20             Pre-Business Planning                                                                                                   SCORE                                                                                










Starting and Structuring A Business


Local Resources

State Resources

Federal Resources

Other Resources


Tax Information for Small Business

WWW Resources