FAQs

How much financial information do I need to share?

You are not required to disclose any financial information, although it is helpful if you can provide your Schedule C.  The more information you share, the more the team has to evaluate your business and make recommendations. However, we respect your right not to share your financial data. All business information is kept in strict confidence.   

What are the BEAR Team members’ credentials?

The Team members come from diverse backgrounds and have various specialties.  We represent both the public and private sector.  We have all worked with or for small businesses, and many of us are small business owners. Click here for a complete list of Team members. Email Warren Vaughan if you are interested in becoming a Team member.

Do the Resource Providers charge for their time?

No.  Each of our Resource Providers agree to provide two free hours of mentoring/training to businesses that express an interest in their area of expertise.  There is no obligation or expectation for continued services beyond the two free hours, and Resource Providers do not solicit for additional business. However, if you wish to pursue a relationship beyond the initial consultation/training, those arrangements can be negotiated between you and the Resource Provider.

Am I required to use the BEAR Team’s recommendations?

No.  After your interview, the team will make suggestions for you to consider.  You decide which of these recommendations you’d like to pursue, if any.  You also decide when you want the Resource Provider(s) to contact you.  Some seasonal businesses prefer to wait until their slower season to follow up on actions recommended by the team.

Do I have to have a business plan?

No.  If you don't have a business plan, or even if you do, one of our recommendations may be to visit with a Team member who can help you to develop or refine your business plan.

How does the state use my business data?

Your responses to the interview questionnaire are added to a statewide database that is accessed only by BEAR Administrators. The information is ultimately shared in anonymous industry reports that are generated for the purpose of presenting the legislature with metrics about BEAR operations. For instance, the Incumbent Worker Training Grant is funded and managed by the State, and the database assists with generating related statistics.

Who has access to my business information?

Any and all of your communications with any BEAR Team member are treated with the utmost privacy.  All team members, regardless of their role, sign strict confidentiality agreements and can be removed from the team for failure to comply. Your general information is added to the statewide BEAR database so it can be used to generate reports.  These reports are used to track Montana's business growth and trends.  All of the information in the database is confidential, and the data is reported anonymously.  

Does Bozeman BEAR only serve Bozeman-based businesses?

No.  We serve all businesses in the Gallatin Valley. BEAR is a statewide program, and there is a program in Park County.  There are also programs in Billings, Kalispell and ....................

What are the IWTG eligibility requirements?

When will I be eligible for a training grant?

Once you’ve completed the interview process, including the follow-up visit, you can apply for an Incumbent Worker Training Grant.

How do prepare for the interview?

You will receive a pre-interview questionnaire that asks basic questions about your business, then the interviewers have a more detailed survey that they use during the actual interview. It is helpful if you can provide your business and/or strategic plan, as well as a Schedule C document; however, you are not required to provide this documentation.  (All of our volunteers have signed privacy agreements, so know that all of your business information is kept confidential.)

How long does the BEAR interview take?

The interview takes approximately 90 minutes.  It is scheduled at a time and place that is convenient for you.

Is there a cost to be part of the BEAR program?

No, it’s absolutely free!