After 40 years of working in the business world, giving advice to business owners just comes naturally to Gene Wolf, who recently accepted the position of district director of SCORE NJ.
SCORE is a volunteer organization that offers business–related services to people in all areas of business. Because its work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and done largely by a network of 13,000 national volunteers, SCORE can deliver services at no charge or at very low cost. SCORE NJ encompasses the eight chapters around the state and some 350 volunteers.
Specifically, SCORE provides:
- Volunteer MENTORS who share their expertise across 62 industries
- Free, confidential business MENTORING in person, via email or by video
- Free business TOOLS, templates and tips online
- Inexpensive or free business WORKSHOPS (locally) and webinars (online 24/7)
To get your small business started, Gene has some advice for you.
1. Be Passionate.
Have you ever had a job that you really liked? Have you had a job that you really didn’t like? Now, which one was better? This idea applies to going into business as well. If you don’t have the passion for that business, then don’t do it.
2. Be Organized.
Small business owners need to be organized in their personal lives as well as their business lives. Part of that business organization includes a well-organized business plan. This plan serves two very important purposes. First, it creates a road map to the future for the business, as well as documents all the milestones your business has been through. Second, a well-organized business plan provides essential information for businesses when seeking financial backing, whether it’s from a bank, crowd funding, or from a friend or family member. Financiers will need to know the background of business as well as where it is headed before investing.
3. Be a Marketer.
Whether it’s using traditional marketing tools like direct mail, print media, or word of mouth, or using new marketing resources such as social media, small business owners must make their brand visible. A good strategy for small businesses may be using a combination of these. Every industry is different and has its own set of guidelines.
4. Showcase Success
For small businesses, it is important to look different from your competitors. Gene suggests a good way to do this is to showcase successful accounts. These success stories should serve as a reference and act as a credibility boost for the business. Showcasing a local business you have served is a way for your public to gain confidence in your business and your services.
5. Avoid Undercapitalizing
When you are seeking to finance for your business, it is critical that you avoid undercapitalizing. Whether you’re seeking money from a bank, crowd funding or a friend or family member, it’s important that you plan for having enough resources to carry yourself over your start-up operation costs. “Your financiers want you to succeed, and if you don’t seek enough money you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice. It is imperative to look at your cash flow and make sure it is solid enough to carry your business through a recession, weather-related dips in business, or major events like Superstorm Sandy.”
Some questions for small business owners to ask themselves when thinking about forming your own business.
- Do you truly understand your market?
- Do you recognize the needs of your market? Are you staying ahead of those needs?
- Do you understand the demographics of your community, including the finances of your community?
- Do you understand your competition? Are you learning from your competition?
- Do you understand your cash flow projections? Are you prioritizing where you plan to spend your cash?
Do you need help answering these questions? Are you a small business owner who is ready to take your company to the next level but don’t know where to start? SCORE can help. Visit the website to locate the SCORE Chapter most convenient for you at www.score.org.