BY MARY FISCHER-TRACY
Starting a business takes all parts of your brain. If you really want to start a business get ready to feel like you are on a roller coaster. Sometimes you get so excited because your dream is going to come true!! But then you realize you have to do a lot of work, like set up your business, go through your personal finances, do market research, contact a lot of different kinds of people, talk about your business and most importantly…write a business plan.
The first thing people ask when they meet me to talk about starting a business is “I would like to apply for a loan or a grant.” So …Yes…the big thing in an entrepreneur’s mind is “How am I going to get the money?” While it is the first thing thought about, it is not the first thing done…not by a long shot.
What to do to start a business? First things first. A person must figure out if their idea is feasible. Answer questions like: Is this really needed in my market? Will my idea create enough income for me? What is the industry doing right now? Who is my competition? What are my costs?
What you need is a business plan!
There are many different kinds of business plans and models these days. Some are one page like the “Lean Business Model Canvas.” You can look it up on GOOGLE under Alex Osterwalder at alexosterwalder.com.
This is a great way to get some of your ideas down on paper and to be sure you are thinking about all aspects of the business. Business plans get you thinking and writing about who your target market is, to what your channels of distribution will be and how much will it cost?
However, if you are going to need money from a lender, you will need more like a research paper or a traditional business plan.
There are a few different places in the Racine area that you can take a business planning class. The Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside has an ETP Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) twice a year. You can find it at https://wisconsinsbdc.org/parkside. At the end of eight weeks with an instructor you will have all you need to write a business plan and if requested an SBDC Business consultant will help you finish it off.
Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC ) also has classes to support your entrepreneurial pursuits at wwbic.com. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has a business planning tool if you would like to try it on your own at sba.gov.
So what that means is you don’t need to have a logo made or business cards or any kind of marketing done. Not yet. Be sure your idea is FEASIBLE before spending money. If you learn anything through this process…It will be to use PATIENCE!
Next month …You have a FEASIBLE idea…Now what?
Mary Fischer-Tracy is the business consultant at the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. To make an appointment for consulting, call (262) 595-3363.