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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Retired businessmen offer advice to budding small business owners

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The most common answer given to Darel Burns' question, "Why do you want to start your own business?" from the wannabe entrepreneur is that they are tired of working for the man. They want to be the man. In some cases the client is surprised and disheartened when Burns informs them a business owner they can look forward to working 60 to 80 hours a week.

"They don't realize as the owner they are going to have to work about twice as many hours," Burns, a SCORE counselor, said. "Their business may only be open from 8 to 5, but they still have to do the other things, like bookkeeping, that is required in business."

Still, for the person who knows the business he is in and has a taste for financial independence, starting a business can be rewarding. But it takes the right kind of person.

For the people who have what it takes to make it, Burns can offer advice in many aspects of business operation.

Wayne Andrews, former owner of Andrews' Body Shop and chairman of SCORE, says the organization's goal is to see that a fledgling business gets a push in the right directions.

"The purpose is to get people in business," Andrews said. "The counseling is free and the members are all volunteers."

Although giving up the 9 to 5 routine is not for everyone, Andrews says there are people who may not be completely fulfilled unless they go it alone. He says three main ingredients are needed to go into business: knowledge of the business, a strong desire to be independent, and having starting capital.

Knowledge of the business

One area SCORE identifies many people tripping up on is trying to start a business not knowing administrative responsibilities. Many have worked in production for many years but do not know the goings on in the front office, Andrews says.

"The administration will make or break a business," he said.

One of the first things done by SCORE is the perspective business owner is asked to create a summary of the business they are planning and then tests the summary with probing questions. Their knowledge is tested when they are asked about the competition and the reasons they believe they will be successful.

Another area entrepreneurs overlook when planning a business are the legal requirements and permits required. Burns said it is not uncommon for someone to open a restaurant and not know what is required to pass a state or local safety inspection.

Desire to be independent

The desire to be independent has to be coupled with the desire to serve the customer, Andrews says.

"No matter how bad your day has been, don't let them know that," he said. "Make them feel important."

Being independent requires the businessman to be responsible for his customers, Andrews said, even if it means responding to a customer complaint in the middle of the night.

Starting capital

SCORE doesn't get involved with helping the entrepreneur get the money to start a business with, but they can steer people in the right direction of bank loans or grants. With all the offers for low interest loans and services to aid in getting capital, Burns gives the advice that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

With most businesses not turning a profit for two to five years after their start, Burns reminds clients being financially prepared to ride the storm out is a good idea.

When a person comes to SCORE for help, they are given several pieces of literature that can help guide them from initial idea to start-up and beyond. People interested in what is required to start and operate a business can contact the local SCORE chapter through the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce at 732-3780.

More information on what is needed to start a business can be found at www.score.org.