Photo Credit: LuciditySBM

If these guys can do it, you can do it!

Passion to fuel the drive and business help to keep the drive alive are key!

By Lynne Richardson

A dream for many of us is to start our own business. Thousands of us do so annually in the United States. But it can be tough to create a successful small business. Many of us “go with what we know” and begin a business based on a talent or interest we have. For example, if you bake well, folks will encourage you to open a bakery. Or if you have incredible woodworking skills, you may open a cabinetry shop. Other people see a need in a community and launch a business to fill the void. Perhaps you see a need for house cleaners or editing or child care. Each of these addresses needs while also, hopefully, providing an income for the owner.

But how will your business survive and thrive if you don’t understand the business part of your new operation?

Do you know how to legally begin? There are regulations galore that apply. Having an attorney that specializes in such matters can prove invaluable.

What about figuring out the costs of running your business? Do you know how to do this? Determining the costs will factor into how much you should charge for your product or service. Most non-business majors aren’t aware that not only must that baker understand how much the flour, sugar, eggs, and butter cost in making the fabulous cakes, he must also figure out the overhead involved in running the oven and refrigerator. How do you do that? And if you are pricing your own time, as an editor would, what is a reasonable and fair hourly rate? An accountant can help with this and also with keeping your books.

Do you need assistance in finding a location for your business or will your business be based out of your home? There are pluses and minuses for both. A real estate professional can help identify factors to consider for external locations. Twenty five years ago I consulted with a women’s formal dress rental shop.

The concept was radical! Men rent tuxedos for formal events, so why not provide a service for women to do the same with dresses? As we discussed potential locations, the owners were adamant that, given the newness of the concept, they wanted to be “off the beaten path” a bit. The storefront had to be easy to find, but not on the main drag in the community. They perceived that clients would not want to be seen visiting the store. A commercial real estate agent listened to their needs and found them the perfect location.

Another aspect to consider when starting your own business is the human resources function. If you are a sole proprietor, then this may seem less critical at the beginning, but if you have any employees, thinking about it early in the creation process is important. There are legal issues regarding employment as well as practical ones. What you don’t want is to have to make the rules up on the fly.
We’ve all heard the stories about how many big-time organizations like Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard started in dorm rooms or garages. But the founders started small. Their amazing idea, coupled with their entrepreneurial spirt and incredible work ethic, ultimately resulted in a blockbuster business.

The key is that they began! What amazing idea do you have? Are you willing to work hard and stick to it, even when it seems impossible to do so? Many small businesses begin as side businesses—the founder continues to work for another employer and devotes time to the start-up at nights and on weekends.

Do you dream of being your own boss? Are you hesitant to pursue your dream because you don’t understand the business side? Most communities have free resources to assist you. Check out the local Small Business Development Center office in your area for help.
Remember that Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take that single step today! But be smart and try to understand the business side of the business before your small business even has a chance to fail.