LIMA — The new year is full of new beginnings, a prime time for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. For those people, there are six essential steps to planning a business, according to six local seasoned business owners and professionals.
The biggest advice these professionals have for entrepreneurs is to do their research, network, find employees, examine expenses, plan time efficiently and create a marketing plan.
Rochelle Vallee, owner of Rovals Antiques in Wapakoneta, said that entrepreneurs confirm that the product that they are looking to sell is what people in that particular demographic want or need.
“You don’t want to go ahead with a bookstore knowing everyone does digital,” she said. “Make sure that you’re store is unique and it stands out above the rest.”
Programs through the Chamber of Commerce and Rhode State College are also available to entrepreneurs hoping to get started on research. Rhode State College’s Small Business Development Center is an organization that helps potential start with the initial steps. The center’s website provides packets of information on how to get a business started in Ohio.
The next suggestion for entrepreneurs is to network with other small business owners or professionals that can help guide them. One way to network is by going to local small businesses and talk to owners about your business plans, according to Vallee.
“If they see that she’s going to want to set up a boutique just like they have, they may not give you any information,” she said. “But if she explains to them she’s only aiding and that they can work together, they may be more open.”
Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce CEO Jed Metzger agrees that it is important to get involved with other businesses, whether that is through the Chamber or an online group.
“You need to have other peers in which you can talk to and bounce ideas off of,” he said. “To have mentors is very important because those people tell other people about your business.”
Expenses are important because they will either make or break a business.
One of the biggest financial challenges that Black Lace owner Jesse Lowe II faced when trying to start his business was securing a loan.
“You have to find a place to house the business and getting a bank to believe in you and your plan,” hes said. “Lima Superior was crucial to the development of my business,” he said.
Jeff Sprague, President and CEO of Allen Economic Development Group, suggests that new business owners budget at least $1,000 to $1,500 to start a business. Expenses can include employee costs, insurance, rent or mortgage, utilities, cost of operations and maintenance.
When starting a new business, entrepreneurs should be aware of costs involved in hiring extra help, such as insurance and taxes, said Mike Crites, owner of Mr. Manhole in Delphos.
Vallee warns that it is also crucial to have quality employees because most of the initial work will be the responsibility of the business owner.
“You’re going to be the person who is going to be working the 100 hours a week, open to close,” she said. “When we came into this store, we were here from 8 a.m. until midnight every day for two weeks trying to get the place up and running.”
Another thing to consider is taking out the time to have orientation for new employees to ensure that they have understand the rules and make your store a great work environment good, said Lowe.
Sacrifice is key when starting your own business because at the beginning, new business owners find themselves investing most of their time into their business.
“You don’t realize how much time you have to sacrifice,”said Lowe. “There will be time that you don’t get to spend with your family, but everything that you’re doing is for them.”
Monthly and annual filings for state and federal taxes are also time consuming tasks, according to Sprague.
In the beginning, new business owners may even have to work two jobs at first before they can be sustained by the income from their business. Kurtis Staup,owner of the newly-formed Wheatland Technologies, works full time as an engineer and also runs his business on the side.
“I’ve been trying to find the balance of my everyday job, my family life, and growing the business,” he said. “Its not a 9 t0 5 and go home and it miraculously grow into itself. When my family goes to bed I’m up at night working on my business.”
Professionals agree that marketing is the best way to promote your business.
Word of mouth and billboards has been the best option for Lowe, who sets at least $400 to $500 aside for marketing. He also suggests that entrepreneurs utilize free marketing through social media or through business cards, flyers and television.
He also suggests that business owners be open to anyone and everyone who looks to purchase their services or products.
“Once that client comes in, you have to be personable with them,” he said. “You want to become loyal to help them just as much as them becoming loyal to you.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.