Starting your own business is not an easy thing to do, but still many people have aspirations of being their own boss.
The Tennessee Small Business Development Center located at ETSU’s College of Business helps clients by asking them why they want to start their own companies. Many of the same answers arise.
“There is only one reason to go into business,” said Robert Justice, director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center. “That is – Are customers out there saying we want (the product or service)?”
That is what Justice helps clients decide.
After clients come in with their ideas, Justice encourages them to get a job in the field in which they want to start a business.
“There have been people who come in here wanting to start their own restaurant, but have never worked in one before,” he said. “It’s hard without experience.”
Another misconception that Justice tries to dispel is that it’s easy to start your own business.
“People who want to start their own business have some strange ideas on how easy it is,” he said.
“It’s not as easy as shown on TV, not all people work five hours a week and make a lot of money.”
Justice then tries to help his clients with the initial planning, including the development of a business plan.
The business plan includes marketing research, which determines whether there will be customers for the product and what the competition is.
If the business plan looks feasible and is likely to be financially sound, then Justice helps his clients gain financial support, usually in the form of bank loans.
Unfortunately, he said many do not make it this far.
“About one in 100 work out,” Justice said. “A lot put their ideas on the back burner.”
“I’ve had one client keep coming back with new ideas for five years, and then he came back with a business plan and now he’s pretty successful,” Justice said.
If the idea does work out, the next step is gaining the appropriate licenses or permits.
Justice helps clients get their permits from the proper government and taxing authorities to make sure the business is legal.
The final step is setting up the accounting systems. Center staff help clients set up a payroll record-keeping system to ensure they have the funds necessary to fund their products and employees.
Once that step is complete, the business is ready to go.
Justice, however, does not encourage all clients who come in wanting to start their own business to move forward.
“We try to discourage people if their plan is not feasible, that is if there is not a strong enough market for it,” he said.
Even though only a small percentage of potential clients are able to succeed in their own business, Justice said he still enjoys the process.
“It’s extremely gratifying. I could probably be off doing other things making a lot more money than what I’m doing here, but I wouldn’t get the personal satisfaction of doing it,” he said.