So you want to be an entrepreneur?

Starting a small business requires more than a creative idea. It takes a lot of work and talent in marketing, financial management and operations.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Many people dream about being their own boss and running their own business. A small business can be very rewarding, but to start one you will likely be working long hours and reinvesting earnings back into the business for some time. Success is not guaranteed. Here are a few questions for you to consider before you take the leap.

  • Do you have a passion for what you will be doing? Passion turns work into enjoyment.
  • Do you have the skills and knowledge for this type of work? Learn the ropes first as an intern or apprentice from someone else.
  • Do you have the resources? Cash flow is usually very difficult for starting businesses. A detailed cash flow projection will reduce surprises for both you and your lender.
  • Who is on your team? It is hard to be a one-person show. A business requires talent in financial management, marketing, and production or service operations. One person can handle one or two of these areas, but rarely all three well.
  • Are you entering an expanding market? If your market is stable or decreasing, then you will have to replace someone else who is already established. Competition can be fierce.
  • How are you positioning yourself in the market? Lowest cost and highest quality do not go together. Unique products are only unique until other businesses copy them.
  • Are you willing and able to change? Trends and opportunities are fed by evolving consumer demand. What works today may not be profitable tomorrow.
  • Is your family behind you? Starting a business affects the whole family, not just you. Moral support and a helping hand are priceless.
  • Are you ready to begin? A business plan is helpful. Determining action steps and timelines can get you started.
  • Are you aware of where you can go for help? There are numerous resources for budding entrepreneurs.

The MSU Product Center has a counselor network statewide assisting individuals with food and agriculture related ventures. Small Business and Technology Development Centers have regional staff available for training and counseling. Multiple communities have economic development corporations that can get you through the red tape and funding issues. Some community colleges are eager to provide help. The list goes on. Ask your local chamber of commerce or MSU Extension office and they should be able to identify what help is accessible nearby.

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