Starting a small business isn't for those who fear risk

March 08, 2009|By BOB POOR

Q: Recently, I was let go by my company from a mid-management level position, and I am thinking of starting a business. I know that entrepreneurship can be risky and hazardous for your health. What are the major challenges I'll face and how can SCORE help me?

A: Sure, there are perils to face along the way. Here are just a few of them.

· Organizational skills: Having these gives you a head start. Being disorganized not only means wasting time but also limits your ability to focus on the priorities of running the business.

· Time management: Many startups fail simply because the owners are unable to solve the issue of work time vs. "the rest of my life" time. This is particularly true for the "home biz" types.

· Cash flow management: A well-managed business uses a cash flow projection to make decisions about how and when to spend money, cut costs or increase income. Flying by the seat of their financial "pants" has doomed many a would-be successful small business.


· Fear of failure: If you are terrified to fail and unwilling to take risks, you shouldn't be in business for yourself. If you read about successful entrepreneurs, many have had failures along the way. It goes with the territory.

· Lack of marketing: Many small business startups are low budget-oriented. However, while costly advertising on a regular basis might be out of the question, it is necessary to get and keep your name out there. Learn to network, join industry organizations, send direct mail and e-newsletters - whatever it takes to get the job done. When, and if, you have built sufficient cash flow, then you can pay someone else to do the marketing for you.

How SCORE can help

The Hagerstown SCORE chapter's Millennium Series small-business seminar will meet four Thursday evenings next month (April 2, 9, 16 and 23) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at HCC's Valley Mall Center.

Topics include Planning for Success, Organize and Manage Your Small Business, Finding the Money/Alternate Financing, and Grow Your Business with Marketing/Sales and Advertising Strategies.

All seminars are taught by SCORE members and associates. A workbook is provided at no extra cost and free SCORE counseling is available upon completion of the series.

To register for the series, which costs $49, call 301-790-2800, ext. 236. Individual sessions cost $19 each.

Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a local small-businessowner/operator. He is chairman of the local SCORE chapter, a small-business counselor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column.

Questions may be e-mailed to him at or by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagers-town, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column.

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