By PATTI KIDWELL
President, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce
The year 2015 is moving along at a rapid pace. As we begin the month of May and warmer days become more frequent, one’s attention is no longer about the weather and instead returns to one’s favorite daydream at work: “It’s time to start my own business!”
As Hyde Park’s staunch defender of small business, we heartily applaud that dream, and would like to offer some suggestions to those who want to leave the comfort of the 9 to 5 routine. Small business is the backbone of our community, offering employment and careers to many. Small business owners are truly leaders in many ways and should be commended for their courage to strike out and create a brighter future for themselves and countless other families.
We would like to offer some thoughts to the entrepreneur that will help ensure a solid foundation for creating a new business in Hyde Park.
The first step is planning. What value are you bringing to the community with your product or service? We all have gotten a bright idea that would seem to be the spark that will create a mammoth corporation. In that instant one experiences the most exciting time of starting a new business. In a flash you see yourself as the leader of a huge empire, new cars, a new house, the end of financial worries … objectivity and reality is temporarily suspended as your dreams come true, at least in your mind.
A good plan, a written plan, is a first step towards reality. Part of your business plan is market research, which will help validate your idea’s potential. Information gathered from many sources can help provide a realistic picture of the future success of your idea or product. And remember, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Read, compare, analyze, debate and make your own conclusions.
There are many resources that can help you put together a business plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s website, sba.gov, has a great interactive tool to help you write the first draft of your business plan, step by step.
If you aren’t bringing value to your future customers, you can be assured that they won’t be spending money on your product or service. A business plan ensures that the value of your idea or product is fully realized in your new business. Finding investors in your business is much easier when you can convey the value of your business and show that you have a plan to achieve success.
A good business plan outlines your business concept, including an overview of the industry, your company structure and how you plan on making your company a success. It will describe the marketplace for your product or service, as well as your competition. And lastly, it lays out the financial details of the business, from income to cash flow and expenses.
With this plan reality kicks in, and you can see whether or not it’s time to quit your day job. In our next column, we’ll talk about the next steps in making your own business a reality.
The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce is here to help you in your business endeavors, from startup to established; we can help in many different ways. I encourage you to stop by our office, located at 1715 E. 55th Street and visit with the chamber’s executive director, Wallace E. Goode Jr. You can also visit our website at hydeparkchamberchicago.org for more information about the chamber.