By Michael Abramowitz, The Daily Reflector, Saturday, November 10, 2012
People with an eye on entrepreneurship were given a step-by-step look at the startup process on Wednesday during a free workshop offered by East Carolina University’s Small Business and Technology Development Center.
The two-hour work session at the Willis Building in downtown Greenville was presented by business counselor David Mayo to a group of nine people interested in transforming their passions into profit-making enterprises
Mayo started the session with a word about the importance of honest self-evaluation of one’s characteristics, strengths and weaknesses to determine if small business ownership is the right path.
“This is the only part of the class where I try to talk people out of starting a business,” Mayo said. “There are a lot of rewards to owning a business, but it’s not easy and it’s not for everyone. It’s demanding and has important requirements,” he said
If there is a key to a successful business startup, it probably is motivation, and knowing why you want to have your own business, Mayo told his class.
“We go into business to be happier,” Mayo said. “Money, to some extent, can get you some things, but without the support of your family, it will be difficult to be happy. Too many hours spent running your business without doing some of the other things that make you happy will make it really tough to be successful.”
Mayo explained the startup process, following a comprehensive guidebook developed by the SBTDC’s staff of business experts. He emphasized key requirements, including understanding and experience in the business you want to pursue; the fundamentals of marketing; and financial management and budgeting.
“The top reason businesses fail is lack of cash flow,” Mayo said.
The business startup workshop is held once each month, usually on a Wednesday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. It is one component serving SBTDC’s mission since being formed under the administration of the University of North Carolina System in 1984. Each of its 16 offices is affiliated with a state college or university, including ECU in Greenville. The offices provide management counseling and educational services to small and mid-sized businesses, including the startup class. Most of its services are free and all are confidential.
“In the workshop environment, we can get many of the most common questions handled simultaneously,” Mayo said.
While certain characteristics are necessary for small business success, entrepreneurship works for people from all walks interested in ownership, the counselor said.
“We find plenty of reserved types of people along with the more outgoing types starting successful businesses,” Mayo said. “Honestly, the most success goes to those who are best capitalized, but there are some programs to help people in that regard, like government loan programs.”
The most common character trait among successful entrepreneurs, according to the business counselor: “They are usually go-getters. From each class (average size between 10-18 participants), we see maybe two or three who write their business plan out, come back for one-on-one counseling and keep at it until they succeed,” Mayo said.
Lucy Fernandez and her husband Juan Moreno emerged from the class more convinced that their goal of owning and operating a local private transportation service is achievable.
“We identified the need for our business and knew the general idea of what needs to be done, but now we know all the steps along the way,” Fernandez said. “The details of putting together a business plan and arranging finances were really helpful.”
Those interested in the challenges and potential rewards of small business ownership can contact the ECU Small Business and Technology Development Center at call 737-1385 or online at www.sbtdc.org.
Contact Michael Abramowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9571.