Charlotte Women's Magazine - August 2009
Considering a New Business?
These are the worst of times; these are the best of times. The slowing economy has taken a toll on southwest Florida. Several people are without work and are seeking employment. Others faced with such struggles and realities are considering starting their own business and working for themselves so they will never be laid off again.
If you have a good idea and if you have a better way to do something, you are off to a good start. Some people adopt the sports company slogan of “Just do it!” But when starting a business, money is involved. You have to consider the start-up costs, how best to spend the money, how long will it take before earning a wage and how long will it take to turn a profit.
The first step is to develop a business plan. How will people learn about your product or your service? How many hours each day are you willing to commit? Many people arrive at work at 8:00 AM and leave the office at 5:00 PM without having to take responsibility home. Are you willing to work all day, into the evenings and on weekends to launch your venture? Do not underestimate the time involved being your own boss.
Most people do not have a large budget to work with as the business begins. This is where creative thinking comes into play. I suggest you talk to some people, who are in business for themselves, and discuss what you are thinking about doing. Ask them how they started and grew their business. If they are direct competitors, they may not be willing to share all they know. You may want to make contact with a business owner in a different city or county. Do not expect all responses to be positive. Personally, when I told some people close to me that I was going to work for myself, they were very discouraging and told me it was not a good time to start a business. Others were happy for me.
Think like an entrepreneur. A true entrepreneur is willing to do every aspect of the business not matter how big or small the task. A chef starting their own restaurant has to be willing to wash dishes. A new dentist has to be willing to market their new practice. A new store owner has to be willing to wash the windows and sweep the floor. When beginning a new venture, you have to wear many different hats. People do not plan to fail, but often they fail to plan. Unfortunately, many small businesses do not succeed.
Recognize your faults. It is hard to look at yourself in the mirror and admit you are not good at something. Some people should not be in business for themselves. Organizational skills are critical. You have to tell yourself what to do and when to do it. You have to decide if you want to continue to do everything yourself or if you need to bring in someone else to help you. This is where I often enter the picture because the general public does not know all the tax laws or what is the best way to keep an accurate set of books for the bank and tax preparation.
Before you open your door for business, you need to get good advice from an accountant and attorney. Choosing the proper entity is extremely important for tax and liability purposes. If you are purchasing a business from someone else, it is critical to allocate the purchase price for goodwill, building, furniture and fixtures, covenants not-to-compete and other items.
Business leases are different than home and apartment leases. Renting office space usually requires a business owner to make a personal commitment to pay for the lease space, even if the business fails. Business leases are also longer term which can be three years or more into the future.
If you are considering working for yourself, do something you enjoy today and envision yourself liking in the future. If your business succeeds, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.