Many people have a dream about being their own boss and turning what they love into a business. Each month here at the Library, we have classes on how to start a business, and each class is filled with prospective entrepreneurs with great ideas and lots of enthusiasm. But not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. It takes a lot of tolerance for risk and a strong belief in your idea, as well as several other factors. In our classes, we explore the feasibility and the intangibles of what it takes to strike out on one’s own. Following are some of the topics we address:
- Take the time to consider what you are getting yourself into regarding not having a steady paycheck or a structured environment. Be prepared to work 60-80 hours a week, especially at first.
- The most successful entrepreneurs are risk-takers who are confident in themselves and their ideas.
- A lot of small businesses fail because the owner is fantastic at his or her craft but has no idea how to run a business. There are many free classes and information out there to help you. Also, hiring an accountant is a great idea, and you can get one to do your basic bookwork for you without spending a lot of money.
- Before you take the plunge, do a lot of research. You should identify your target market and then research your area to see if there are enough of those people to support your business. Also, research your competition and assess whether your market can support another such business.
- Research your industry. Check trade journals and industry groups for trends and news.
- Differentiate yourself from your competition. Be sure you know how to provide excellent customer service.
- Prepare a viable business plan, especially if you are going to need help with financing. Without one, few lenders will consider you serious or credible.
- Be sure to get enough financing to get through the first 3 years. Many small companies fail because they are undercapitalized; as you grow, you need to buy more inventory to expand, or in service businesses, you might need more office help or supplies. Because of the nature of cash flow, you will need more money up front to expand, as you wait on your receivables to come in.
- Expect the occasional setback. There are many economic factors beyond your control, and it’s likely you will face setbacks for any number of reasons.
Striking out on your own can be a satisfying adventure, but you must do some planning first, and you must do some self-assessment to see if you can tolerate the risk and ambiguity of running your own business.
If you are interested in exploring entrepreneurship, please join us at one of our next classes: Small Business Orientation on June 7th at 6:00-7:30 pm in the Library’s Perkins Room 201; How to Start a Business on June 8th at 6-7:30 pm in the Library’s Menninger Room 206.