We at First Financial want to help you achieve your dreams of owning your own business using safe and realistic steps to guide you. Over the coming weeks, our business experts will provide step-by-step advice on how to get started. We can’t promise it’ll be easy to get started—but we can promise that we’ll be here every step of the way to get you to your destination.
Step One: Form an intimate relationship with your industry
It’s important when starting your own business that you’ve experienced it at the employee level. When you take the time to involve yourself in the industry, you are able to determine if it will be something that suits you and this economy. The fewer surprises, the better. Plus the experience not only provides you with knowledge and preparation, but also with credibility, which can help you market your business and secure financing.
Tip: Want to open a business in which you have no industry experience? Don’t let that deter you! If it’s feasible, take a year to throw yourself into it. In the long-term, proverbial “big picture.” You’ll benefit from taking that extra year (or two!) to immerse and educate yourself in what the industry involves. Take notes along the way. Ask questions of your supervisors and coworkers. Create a journal of all that you do so you can use this information not only in starting your business, but in later years to assess how far you’ve come.
Just as you can never have too much experience, you can never do too much research. Use resources both on-line and locally to provide you with a well-rounded assessment of your industry in your area. Check out your potential competition—their websites, pricing, products and how they market themselves. Decide what you like and dislike about each of these categories, and even ask what your friends and family think about it! These can help you decide how you want your company to be conveyed, and how it can set you apart from the rest. Check out if there are any local groups that specialize in networking specifically for your potential industry. Check out Chambers of Commerce in local towns where you can also meet up with industry professionals. But don’t forget to hit the books as well! What kind of literature can you find on your business venture?
For Monmouth and Ocean Counties, not only do you have First Financial as a resource, but you also have SCORE, Monmouth Ocean Small Business Development Center (MOSBDC), and others. SCORE is a nonprofit association that provides advice and guidance to entrepreneurs. While they are a national association, they have a chapter here at the Jersey Shore. For more information on how they can help your business grow, go to www.score.org. MOSBDC is a national network of universities and colleges that advise small businesses. Locally, they have offices at Brookdale Community College and Ocean County College. Their website is www.mosbdc.com. These are only two examples of organizations that dedicate themselves to helping small business owners start and flourish.
Tip: Don’t overwhelm yourself! This sounds like a lot, so start off slow with 1 hour per day of research, and maybe 2-3 hours per week of networking and face-to-face research. (Just 10 hours per week to become more learned for your business path? Sounds like a deal!).