Thinking about Starting a Small Business?


Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) assist small business owners in starting or growing their businesses. Sometimes we also have to help prospective business owners realize that business ownership is not right for them or that they are not prepared at present to be a business owner. These are not easy conversations; however, it is much better to realize you should not start a business than it is to start a business and realize that you made a mistake.

Before you take the plunge into business ownership, you should ask yourself these questions and answer them as honestly as you can.

  1. Do I have money to invest in starting a business? We meet with many people who do not have any cash to invest in starting a business. They expect to be able to borrow 100% of the start up costs. This is not going to happen.  A lender will expect the business owner to have 10- 20% of the start up funding needed.  If you do not have capital to invest but you really desire to start a business, you should consider options that requires little or no investment.  Such businesses include consulting services or virtual services you can do from home using only your computer.
  2. Do I have time to devote to running a business? All businesses will consume time, both for working in the business and working on the business.  Many business owners tell us that they work 40 or more hours in their businesses each week, and they work another 10 – 20 hours on the business.  Working on the business includes marketing and networking efforts to find customers, invoicing, bill paying, scheduling, and many other tasks that are necessary but do not generate revenue.
  3. Am I comfortable at making decisions? A business owner makes many important decisions every day.  These decisions include which jobs you want to bid on, the proper price to charge for your services, how you will market your services, and should you hire (or fire) an employee. If you are hesitant to make decisions, business ownership may not fit your personality.
  4. Do I have the expertise to do the work and run the business? We meet many people who do not have the ability to perform the work to be done in the business they want to start. They are planning to hire the right people to do the work.  An example of this is when a non-chef opens a restaurant with the intent to hire a great chef. This might work well until the chef leaves to take another job.  Prospective business owners need to have some training and experience in the services they will offer, so they can do the work themselves when necessary. They also need to be able to recognize when an employee is not doing the work properly or well.
  5. Does my family support my decision? Running a business is hard work. It requires putting in long hours and committing family financial resources to the business in order to achieve success.  You need the support of those in your immediate family.  If those closest to you do not support your decision, you should reconsider.

If you are considering starting a business, the Virginia Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are here to help. We offer free consulting and low-fee training classes to prepare you for becoming a business owner.  We recommend that you start by taking our online, on-demand class, First Steps to Starting a Business  or a similar introduction to business ownership.

Then, if you are ready to move forward, you can complete a Request for An Appointment Form. The form will be sent to the SBDC center in your locality.  A consultant will contact you to schedule your first appointment.  We look forward to assisting in your journey to business ownership and to giving you the tools that will help you to succeed.