TFE welcomes guest author Christina Trombley, Director, UWGB Small Business Development Center…
- There is no free money. No matter what late night infomercial tells you, business grants, when they exist, usually are very specific to outcomes, such as job creation or industry-specific innovations. However, there are financial opportunities for small business with significant loan programs or venture financing.
- Just because Uncle Lou will buy your product, it doesn’t mean everyone will. Neither does it mean that people won’t., but asking family and friends does not provide the marketing analysis your business plan needs. You must do impartial research to get the true marketing potential of your business. Historic data, primary research and professional consultants are available and can help in this process.
- You will not go fishing on the weekends. Starting a business takes time … a lot of time. New business owners eat, sleep and breathe their business. On average, new entrepreneurs spend more than 10 hours a day at work. So while you may not go fishing or hit the links or catch the games as you used to, your schedule will eventually even out.
- You must like working with people. Your business will not succeed in a vacuum. Even if you are a home-based business, your success will be partially based on how well you work with others. Vendors, suppliers, customers, partners and many others groups will be in constant contact with you as you go about your daily business. Make sure you have the necessary people skills.
- Change is the only constant. Business is in a constant state of flux. You must stay on top of the trends in your industry as well as changes in daily operations. Being an active participant in your trade association ensures you stay on top of what is new in your industry. Trade associations also are a good source of data on customer profiles, marketing techniques and benchmarks.
- Planning is essential. The old adage about those who fail to plan, plan to fail is more true in business than anywhere else. Your business plan keeps you focused on your goals while providing you with the foresight to weather challenges. There are many resources out there to help you plan, including business plan classes and technical assistance.
- You can’t do it all. It’s your business, but why make it harder than it has to be? Put your own board of advisors together to work with you. Make sure that you include an accountant and an attorney. Their advice will be invaluable to you as your business grows. Depending on your own strengths, you may also want to include a marketing expert or business consultant. Having a group of trusted allies helps you keep your courage up and builds your confidence. It’s good to have someone in your corner.
- You may not make any money the first year. Even though you may sell your product and do well, sales may fall short of expectations and costs may be higher. Financial forecasting is an essential part of your plan. Make sure that you develop your cash flow projections, your income statement and your budget. Then, make sure you understand what these statements are telling you. If you are prepared financially for the first few years when money is tighter, your business won’t succumb to cash flow or other financial problems.
- You should prepare for the end. It’s hard to think about the finish line when you are just starting the race. But thinking about the long-term goals will help you correctly set up your business now. Will you want to sell your business as part of your retirement plan? Will it be passed on to the next generation? Knowing where you want to end up is a key part of getting started, so keep the future in mind.
- It will be the best thing you ever do. Entrepreneurs start their business because they have a passion, a dream. If you ask them, entrepreneurs can’t imagine doing anything else. Whether someone is just starting out or they have been in business for 30 years, the satisfaction of putting it all together never goes away. The resources and help to get started are out there.
About Christina Trombley
MBA, Director, UWGB Small Business Development Center
Christina holds a Masters of Business Administration from UW-La Crosse and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from UW-Eau Claire. As the Director of the Small Business Development Center at UW-Green Bay, she provides dynamic and visionary leadership for the SBDC and as part of an eight-partner Business Assistance Center. She has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, guiding them in starting their business, bank financing, management issues and more. She has over fifteen years of experience in marketing, public relations, advertising and sales in several industries, including healthcare, food service, and non-profits organizations, developing marketing plans, creating advertising and promotional plans, and coordinating special events.
Christina has won several notable recognitions, including receiving the “State Star” Award for Wisconsin from the Association of Small Business Development Center, the La Crosse YWCA Tribute to Outstanding Women, and the recognition of a “Top 20 Business Leader under Forty” by the River Valley Business News. Prior to joining the SBDC at UW-Green Bay, she worked for the SBDC in La Crosse, WI.
Contact: Christina Trombley
Popularity: 4% [?]