Was your new year’s resolution to turn your skill, hobby or passion into a small business?
You’re not alone; in two weeks the country celebrates National Entrepreneurship Week – dedicated to individuals who continually stimulate our economy via innovations and employment.
As the SBA Pittsburgh district director, daughter of a small business owner and entrepreneur myself, I’m often asked what is entrepreneurial spirit?
In our agency’s resource guide, we have a quiz titled “Is entrepreneurship right for you?” Don’t worry, it’s a self-administered test and we won’t post your results. But, recognizing that small business owners should possess the qualities below can help you better contemplate a life-changing decision.
Entrepreneurs should be self-starters, get along with different personalities, make decisions, plan and organize, be passionate, possess physical and emotional stamina and have a support system.
So how do you open up shop in your neighborhood? For help, I contacted Ed Huttenhower, director of the St. Francis Small Business Development Center (SBDC), that serves the Johnstown area. The SBA Pittsburgh District Office is home to eight SBDC’s, the Women’s Business Center and six SCORE (Counselors to America’s small businesses) chapters. Each of these organizations regularly helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas from blueprint to fruition, creating prosperous business districts.
Last year, Huttenhower and his team serviced 242 clients and about 380 individuals attended the free First Step Pre-Business Planning workshop.
“January and February are our busiest months,” he said. “I think many people make it their resolution to start a business.”
During the course, attendees evaluate their business ideas and learn about projecting income – a necessity for inventory, salaries and rent.
“At the end of the three-hour course, we get one of three comments: ‘gee, I’m ready,’ ‘no way,’ and ‘maybe, but not now,’ and all are acceptable answers,” Huttenhower said.
So, what does Huttenhower tell budding business owners?
“The biggest thing we stress, over and over, is to think about your plan ... what exactly you want to do and what sets you apart from your competition,” he explained. “This forces entrepreneurs to look at their ideas and see if they realistically can proceed.”
For those ready to plunge into small business ownership, Huttenhower’s team serves as impartial observers during the free, confidential counseling sessions.
“We won’t tell them if it’s the greatest idea or if it isn’t, instead we give unbiased opinions to our clients,” he explained. “We also provide demographic data including pricing, competition and profit margins to back up our assessment, and we’ve found most clients are appreciative of our findings.”
Kelly Hunt is the Small Business Administration Pittsburgh district director.