Bears Business Brief: The makings of an entrepreneur
By Rayanna Anderson, MBA
There are almost 28 million entrepreneurs and small business owners in the United States, according to Forbes.com. Over 22,000 small businesses exist in Springfield and the surrounding area, most started by someone with a dream and the fortitude to take a leap and kiss the act of working for someone else goodbye. While there are myriad definitions of entrepreneurship, the definition I like is “taking on the risk and accountability of creating and implementing a business strategy or starting a business.” In that regard, Springfield is a great place to start a business! According to WalletHub, a small business and personal finance website, Springfield ranked as the 24th best city in the nation to start a business. The unmatched attendance in any market, besides Kansas City, of 1 Million Cups at The eFactory puts an exclamation point on this ranking.
What does it really take to use your entrepreneurship contemplations to start a successful business of your own? The following are four commonalities that these folks share. Some might surprise you.
They have passion. They are passionate about their business, and most of them are passionate about business in general. This helps when they might not get paid what they could make working for someone else and when they have to endure the long hours of the startup phase. While ostensibly simple, creating a business about something you enjoy, instead of the latest start-up trend or prepackaged franchise operation, could make all the difference in your success.
Financial statements are a big part of their tool set. They may not have a degree in accounting, but they can tell you the gross margin on their product or service. They also know what their breakeven point is, or how much they have to sell to enable them to pay all the bills and take home a paycheck. Even with the onset of paperless money, cash is still king. Knowing how cash flows into your business and how it exists is a must. More businesses fail for lack of capital management than for any other reason.
They focus on their customers. Every decision they make, from organizational policies to promotional campaigns, prioritizes the customer or client. It is really all about what customers think or how they are served. I am always amazed when retail companies choose to close at 5 p.m. or are open additional hours by appointment. How many customers want to make an appointment to shop? Successful entrepreneurs know their customers, inside and out, and are always looking for new ones. Irrefutably, the customer, not the banker, will ultimately be the true decision maker of whether you make it or fail.
Being flexible and resilient are crucial characteristics. I have never heard a small business client say their business plan worked as it was originally written. The vision that the entrepreneur had in the original plan is usually swept away with changes in the market and business environment. Not only are they able to react to changes in their business plan, but they are determined and willing to learn from their mistakes early on and move forward.
In summary, these are the common traits I have found in successful entrepreneurs.
If you would like to hear their stories first hand, please join me on Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m. for 1 Million Cups at The eFactory.
This article appeared in the September 6, 2014 issue of the Springfield News-Leader. It is available online here.
Rayanna Anderson, MBA, is director of the Small Business Technology Development Center and the Management Development Institute at Missouri State University’s E-Factory. Anderson writes about issues she sees regularly in her consulting with small businesses in Springfield and the state of Missouri. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Million Cups Springfield
This public program meets 9-10 a.m. every Wednesday at the eFactory downtown, 405 N. Jefferson Ave. For more information, visit http://springfield.sites.1millioncups.com/