Business Start-Up Expert Advice
Q. I want to start my own business. Where do I begin?
A. One of the first critical steps to take when making the leap to start your own business is to be honest with yourself about your commitment. Assessing a new venture requires follow through and due diligence for making the best possible decisions. Making those decisions requires an entrepreneurial state of mind that involves a commitment to obtaining in-depth knowledge of a business you will love, and the determination to see it through.
When starting your new venture, some economical steps you can take to get started on the right foot are to take full advantage of the available resources for small businesses right here at home. We are fortunate in Topeka to have some great small business resources. Four places to see before starting a new venture are:
1. The Topeka Shawnee County Public Library
The library has an outstanding small business reference section online and in-house to help with your research needs. Top picks for online research and material are the Business Reference Center for general information, Reference USA for knowing your competition, and Business Decisions for demographics and market data.
2. Go Topeka and Entrepreneurial Minority Business Development (EMBD)
Touch base with this organization for assistance on accessing area business knowledge, financial resources, micro loans, and classes for starting your small business and developing business strategies. The EMBD offers the Breakfast Buzz, where current business topics are discussed, and the event provides a tremendous conduit for small business networking.
3. Topeka SCORE
Connect with mentors from the local Topeka SCORE chapter for business assistance and mentoring, or attend one of their Roundtable Workshop events held the first Saturday of every month on the Washburn Tech campus. See topeka.score.org for all the details.
4. Washburn University Small Business Development Center (WUSBDC)
Discuss your plans with one of the consultants from the WUSBDC in a no cost consulting session. The WUSBDC provides a wide range of consulting services that include assistance with starting a business or buying an existing business.
3 Ways Entrepreneurship is Like Poker
1. Don't go all in before testing the water. In poker, this is placing small bets to see trends and patterns. In business, this involves gathering information, market testing, and analyzing the business landscape to be in the best position for playing your hand.
2. Know when to change your play. Even the best game plan can need significant deviation for a win. Be prepared to adapt your business model or plan due to opportunities and challenges as your business evolves.
3. Learn the habits of your opponents. In business, this means know your competition. Know what they do well, what you will do well, and develop your winning tactics.
4 Myths of Entrepreneurship
MYTH 1: “My great invention will make me rich.”
In general, it's really not about what you have created, but more about how you build market share, brand your product or service, and the creation of value for your customers that will help you achieve financial rewards.
MYTH 2: “Keeping a business idea a secret is critical to success.”
For most business ideas, discussion is very beneficial in obtaining valuable feedback, addtional thoughts, ideas, and creating connections with believers who can be brought on board to help spread the good news about your venture.
MYTH 3: “It takes large sums of money to start a new business.”
Many small businesses "bootstrap" their startup and use very little capital in getting their business off the ground. For a litany of low cost new venture success stories, read "The $100 Startup" by Chris Gilliebeau.
MYTH 4: “I'll make lots of money owning my own business.”
New businesses can take some time to grow and prosper. It is important to invest in a new venture you will enjoy in those early formative years while working your way to maximizing the business income. Keep in mind, it may not be all about the money along your journey.