The Buzz, May 2011

It's Time To Start Your

Own Business

By John Rowland

   While many of us may still be chasing those few jobs openings out there, now is the time to start your own business.  The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) here at the Chamber has been sponsoring small business workshops for new startup companies here in the Waterbury area.  The seminars touch on a variety of issues from writing a business plan to securing financing.

   If you are unemployed or underemployed, just out of school and can’t find work , I would encourage you to contact the SBDC at www.ccsu.edu/sbdc.  The workshops cover technical aspects of starting a business, tax filings, accounting, permits, licenses and all the fundamental tools.  But well before the call is made you have to ask yourself some hard questions:

   • Are you willing to take a chance on your own?

   • Can you motivate yourself to run a business, to engage customers, vendors and the countless people needed to support your efforts?

   • Are you willing to take on some financial risks?

   • Do you have the energy, time and endurance to work a lot of hours, be away from your family and probably not receive income for a prolonged period of time?

   • Are you good with details and follow through on projects?

   As you shuffle through these thoughts and questions, we have not even touched on the challenges of opening your own business and unfortunately the statistics are all against you.  The number of businesses that fail within the first few years are alarming.  But the job market is not a very pretty picture either.  So what do you have to lose?  In essence, would you rather bet on yourself and your ability to succeed and feed your family or do you want to fill out yet another job application just to be told that the company is “not hiring at this time” (Then why did they advertise for applications ?) or even worse, “you are over qualified for the job”.

   Once you have cleared these hurdles in your decision making process the next step is determining what you can do.  Remember as you look around at the successful restaurants, contractors, services, rental establishments on each and every street remember most of them started off with just one idea.  It is  hard work, it’s rewarding and more fail then succeed.  The most important ingredient to success is creativity.  Can you create something different, something that brings value to a potential customer or client?

   Is it the same old stuff, but you think you have invented a new mouse trap?  The truth is, you probably have not created a better mouse trap, most businesses and ideas are an incremental improvement, an efficiency, a slight deviation from something that exists today.  New businesses that over promise (“The best” and “the newest”, etc) and under deliver, will fail.  So, as you explore a new business follow a few simple guidelines:

   • Be realistic

   • Be practical (is my product cost efficient?)

   • Keep it simple and don’t go overboard

   • Is this service or product something that does not exist in the market place?

   • Is there a market for your new service or product?

   • Can you easily name your first 10 customers or clients?

   • Are you filling an unmet need in the market place?

   • Can you do it for less? (No one will pay more right now)

   And most importantly I have heard so many people tell me, “I have always wanted to open a business that…” or “it has always been a dream of mine…”  Unfortunately this is not about you, this is about opening a business that fulfills a need in the market place.  A need in the market place means, does it exist?  Is it convenient?  Is it affordable?  People pay for convenience, but not a lot, just a little, especially in this economy.

   It is challenging to resist the temptation to “follow your dream” but if you want to be successful you need to “follow the opportunity”.  An opportunity is an unmet need, perhaps a former business that has closed or one that has priced itself out of the market.  Many large businesses  are  contacting  out many of  their  services; information technology accounting, sales, cleaning services, driving, trucking, repairs, maintenance, printing, delivery, etc. 

   These are opportunities.

   So I hope I have inspired you, go for it, take a chance, bet on yourself , work hard, don’t give up and think long term. Reach out to SBDC at 860-832-0650 or www.ccsu.edu/sbdc