Frequently Asked Questions


I'm a small business owner. Can I use West Business Development Center services?

Yes, West Business Development Center can assist any small business in Mendocino and Lake Counties with 1 to 500 employees.


I have a great idea for a business, but I don't know where to start!

The best place to start is to contact West Business Development Center! There is a lot to consider when starting a business, and the biggest contributor to business failure is a lack of planning. The more you know about starting a business, the more you can plan for its success and the more you plan, the more crisis you can avoid. Since 1988, West Business Development Center has assisted over 1000 businesses to gather the right information and make sound business decisions. We can help you turn your dream into a reality.


How do I register a business name?

Before a business name is registered, the business structure must first be decided. Generally, any business that operates under a name other than the owner’s personal name must file a Fictitious Business Name (FBN), also called a DBA (Doing Business As), with the County Recorder and publish that statement according to local statutes. Some business structures are also required to register with the Secretary of State. In addition to affecting the name registration, the choice of business structure has several other ramifications. Though not attorneys and therefore unable to give legal advice, West Business Development Center can help you understand business structure, be better prepared to choose a structure, seek legal counsel if necessary, and properly register your business.


How do I get a business license?

This depends on the type of business you wish to operate and where you plan to operate. Most businesses require only a business license from the local government such as a city or the county. Some businesses will require additional licenses issued by the State and/or federal government. West Business Development Center can help you determine which licenses you will need to operate your business.


Can I access services from West Business Development Center if I live outside Mendocino County?

Currently, West Business Development Center’s services are available to Mendocino and Lake Counties. If you live in a different county, additional services are currently available throughout the United States through the Small Business Development Center network.


Where can I get a grant to start my business?

Though limited specialty business grants surface from time to time, the Small Business Administration website states, “While the SBA does offer some grant programs, these are generally designed to expand and enhance organizations that provide small business management, technical, or financial assistance. These grants generally support non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions, and state and local governments.”

Unfortunately, a lot of scams exist in the marketplace that prey on those who believe “free money” is available just for the asking or if they just submit the right plan to the right people. Do not fall prey to these scams! Most will ask for money up front and then disappear after payment has been made. Contact West Business Development Center, as we can help you prepare to seek proper and legitimate financing to start your business.


How do I get financing to start or expand a business?

West Business Development Center helps connect entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs with potential funding sources once a business plan and financials have been developed and written. Our business Advisors can help you understand, develop and create your business plan. In addition, we can help you determine the financial feasibility of your idea before any risk is taken or money is spent. To get started, book an orientation call. We will contact you and help you find the path to success!


How much does West Business Development Center charge?

In most cases there is no charge to the recipients of West Business Development Center services. West Business Development Center is a non-profit organization funded through several government and private agency grants. Our services are not free, but those grants help us to offset costs for individuals. So book your orientation call today and get started with your dream business now!


Does West Business Development Center serve women AND men?

Yes! West Business Development Center serves as the Mendocino Women’s Business Center as well as the Mendocino Small Business Development Center. Our services are available to anyone in Mendocino County interested in starting OR currently operating a small business.


What areas of business can you help with?

We have three staff advisors to work with you on getting started and also running your business.In addition, we have six specialty advisors who focus on unique industries or clusters like manufacturing or food industries.

We help you navigate:

  • Starting a business

  • Applying for loans

  • Understanding your finances

  • HR & Operations

  • Expanding your business

  • Marketing

  • Building your brand