Avoiding the pitfalls of entrepreneurship
Posted On January 29, 2023
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult hurdle for many small businesses to clear, that apparently has not kept fledgling entrepreneurs from wanting to jump in feet first and give business ownership a shot.
“In the past three years, we’ve been inundated with people coming in, looking for help to start a business,” said Mel Washington, Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center for southwest Alabama.
Washington, our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,” says many of those new would-be entrepreneurs are Baby Boomers, looking for something new to throw their efforts into, and many are also women.
Visiting Washington’s office, or the others like it around Alabama, is a first step toward successful entrepreneurship. The SBDC offers guidance in helping small businesses set realistic goals and get started the right foot. Washington, a former aerospace engineer who has been with working with small businesses with the SBDC in Mobile for over a decade, says his office can help entrepreneurs avoid some of the top pitfalls for new small businesses:
- Making sure there’s a market for your idea. “Many entrepreneurs have the idea: If you build it, they will come,” Washington said. “And in reality that does not happen.”
- Developing a business plan, which Washington calls “the road map to your future.”
- Setting reasonable forecasts for not only startup costs, but the working capital necessary to keep the business going as it gets off the ground.
Lack of startup capital and lack of a business plan are the two biggest reasons new businesses don’t succeed, Washington said. Another, he added, is that many new entrepreneurs don’t realize how difficult it is to succeed.
“Be prepared to work seven days a week because that’s what it takes,” he said. “Starting up and getting through the first two years is a lot of work.”