News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 24, 2013

Business Cents: Rate yourself as an entrepreneur

Heather Penney
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — This past week I spoke at Otter Creek Middle School to a couple of 8th-grade classes who were working on entrepreneurism activities. The children quite impressed me by having a business plan, slogans, business cards, posters, letter head and more for their business ideas. One young girl had a scuba diving shop and her slogan was “May the fish be with you.” After speaking to them, I started thinking about how many people are entreprenueristic and if they have evaluated themselves on a variety of different areas to see if they should continue to explore the world of business ownership.

Of every entrepreneur out there, some common characteristics are shared. That is not saying that every person will have each of these, but that there is a common theme shared by all of them. I have listed the characteristics below. I encourage you to see where you fall as you read each characteristic.

1. Do you enjoy what you do? I have often heard that if you love what you do then you will never work a day in your life. No one wants to hate going to work. If you do, then don’t open a business in that industry as the outcome will be decreased moral, decreased productivity and a negative impact on company revenue streams. So make sure you own a company doing what you love and that your employees are also doing what they love.

2. Be serious. In order to make your company successful, you must believe in the product/services you are selling. It is difficult to not get sidetracked, but stay due course and you will see an increase in the bottom line.

3. Plan everything. One of the number one reasons companies fail is due to lack of planning. Write that business plan as painful as it might be, as that will be your company blue print or road map for operations and implementation of strategies. It will also permit you to test ideas prior to execution and limit any investment losses.

4. Manage money wisely and always ask for the sale. These two go hand in hand. The lifeblood of any organization is maintaining sufficient cash flow. Asking for the sale entails having a comprehensive marketing plan that incorporates marketing, advertising, and promotions.

5. Get to know your customers. People prefer to do business with those that they like and they know. Building that relationship can be a long term revenue stream for your company through repeat business as well as referrals. When a customer has a negative experience they tell 10 people about how horrible that experience was. Consider how that impacts the business, repeat customers and the revenue stream.

6. Invest in yourself. What I mean by this is continue your education. Successful entrepreneurs continue to read articles, blogs, magazines and books that revolve around their industry and also trending business practices. I just finished reading an informative book titled, “The Advantage” and it was about inner office communication and how to engage staff while building trust. Working with such a large region and with a variety of businesses, the information contained in the book will better enable me to relate to my clients as well as stakeholders.

7. Sell benefits. Be sure that when you discuss the features of your product and service that the customer understands what the benefit is to them. To be honest, customers honestly don’t care about your company features. Customers only care about how it will benefit them.

There are so many more characteristics to describe entrepreneurs, but here are a few to get you thinking. Approximately 99 percent of all businesses in the United States are considered small businesses according to the Small Business Administration. Don’t be afraid to research your idea and begin the planning process to launch your own company.

Heather (Penney) Strohm is the regional director for Indiana State University’s Indiana Small Business Development Center.