By Ronnie Green
Jewish Community Services
Many people dream of being the King of their world by starting their own business. No boss to answer to, no time clock to punch, just doing what they’ve always dreamed about.
But even, if you have an idea that “can’t fail,” slow down a minute. Everyone knows about the sinking of the legendary Titanic 100 years ago. You do not want your exciting new initiative to share the same tragic ending.
There are many issues to consider before starting your own business. Selecting the right time is essential. My nephew started a high level pocketbook business at the beginning of the recession. Unfortunately, it did not succeed.
On the other hand, the timing could be especially good right now, because of President Obama’s initiative to provide financial support to small businesses.* It feels counter-intuitive, but in a bad job market, which this clearly is, niche market opportunities emerge and jobs are often created with the start of new businesses.
But be cautious. You need a reality check to tell the difference between the vision of your dreams and what actually works. In an article by Nina and Tim Zagat, “So You’re Thinking of Opening a Restaurant,”** their opinion was: “Don’t do it!” They maintain that in order to be successful as a restaurateur, you need to be a real estate wiz, a purchasing expert, a marketing guru, an incredible team leader and even a plumber! Are you prepared to do what it takes, take on all tasks and structure your life around this enterprise?
It’s fine to have a dream, as long as it is firmly founded in reality. Here is helpful advice:
- Is there a market need for your product or service? Are there many, many people who could benefit? How is your product or service different from what is already out there?
- You need to create a business plan that forces you to answer important questions about marketability, sustainability, funding sources, pricing strategy, organizational structure, sourcing technology and measuring milestones. The Small Business Administration and SCORE are two valuable resources.
- Be prepared to finance the venture yourself. Small business loans are unheard of today. Are you willing to do without a steady paycheck?
- Speak to people and network with other professionals in the industry. Jewish Community Services hosts monthly Entrepreneur and Business Meetups, which give business professionals opportunities to network, share challenges and help each other. New social media strategies are encouraged.
- Get a job in the kind of business you’d like to start, and learn about it from the inside.
The best advice I’ve heard is to learn from the mistakes of other people. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg approached his peers, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and asked them, “If you could do it over, what would you do differently?”
A successful business starts with a good idea, followed by a successful plan. Do your homework and don’t let your dreams go down with the ship!
*Learn more about President Obama’s initiative to provide financial support to small businesses>>
**Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2011
The next JCS Entrepreneur and Business Meetup will be on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center community room, 5700 Park Heights Avenue.
Pre-register and learn more about future Meetups, visit www.meetup.com/JCSEBM or call 410-843-7433.