So You Want to Start Your Own Business

By Adam Santavicca

It seems that almost everyone has wanted to start his or her own business at some career point. Many of us grow weary and bored with the same corporate grind. It is the same repetitive routine each and every workday. Some feel they are grossly underpaid, while others believe they have great ideas and want to contribute to the company but no one is paying attention to them. As a result, about 60 percent of workers are unhappy in their jobs.

Wouldn’t it be great to jump out of bed each morning excited about the challenges that will face you for the day? This would be a lot more fun than pulling the covers over your head after hitting the snooze button. Well, most of us just continue on, but others have dreams—dreams of starting our own business.

Most entrepreneurs do not suddenly quit their jobs to start a business. Starting one is something many of us have been thinking about for some time, perhaps even years, until we get to the point that we just know it is the right thing to do.

So, now is the time. You just know it and can hardly contain yourself. But here is where a word of caution comes in. Do not mistake a hobby for a business. Just because you love something doesn’t mean it can be a viable business. Often, businesses fail because the owner’s passion is not felt by others. Research your idea and make sure it can be a viable business.

The number one reason that businesses fail is lack of planning or poor planning. This is why your business plan is so important. It is your roadmap for success. In preparing your business plan, you will look at all aspects of your business and be prepared to handle problems. Your business plan helps you focus on your goals and your vision, as well as set out plans to accomplish them. Your business plan is a dynamic document. It needs to be updated at least annually.

When you prepared your business plan, one of the things you did was to determine what you needed to get your company started and to cover your costs for 60 to 90 days, or until the date you forecasted that you would be profitable. Every item listed in your “start-up list” has an associated cost. All of this totals the amount of funding you need to get started. But where do you get your funding?

For your funding, you want to start with the bank you do business with. Here is a checklist of what you will need:

1. A business plan with believable projections
2. Ability to show you are knowledgeable about your business
3. Collateral, such as your home
4. A good credit score. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. A good credit score is 700 or better.

If you meet the criteria for these four items, then chances are you will receive your loan. If not, you may still be able to get your funding through your bank, guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

I do want to let you know that the number two reason for business failures is under-funding. Many times this is related to reason number one, lack of planning or poor planning. You can go to the well only once, so make sure your funding is adequate, because your bank probably will not lend you any more money. Do not spend your funding on the wrong things. Follow your business plan.

Okay, you now have your business plan and funding. What’s next?

Now you need to execute your business plan. It contains all of the major tasks and timelines of the things you need to accomplish to get your business off to a successful start. This includes meeting the financial results you forecasted. If you are not comfortable or are finding it difficult to launch your business, it is best to seek out a mentor. The SBA provides this through SCORE and their Small Business Development Centers at no charge. If you feel you need more, such as professional hands-on help, then use the services of a business advisor who has experience and a verifiable track record. Your goal is to have a successful business in a short period of time. Getting professional help will get you to this point faster and at less cost.

Starting your business should be both fun and rewarding. It is important that you do it the right way, with solid planning and execution. Don’t cut corners or try to do things you are not qualified to do. This is where you rely on professional help. Don’t let your dream turn into a nightmare.

Good luck with your new business. You are now an entrepreneur and on the road to success. Remember to keep following your business “roadmap.”

© 2010, Adam Santavicca

Adam Santavicca
CBay Advisory Group, LLC
(410) 923-6925

Adam Santavicca has been a senior manager with both public and private companies for more than 30 years. His longest stay with a public company was 18 years with Anacomp, an international information technology service provider. At Anacomp, Adam held several vice president positions and touched almost every aspect of the company’s business. He was also president of Imagent, another information service provider.
In 2000, Adam left corporate America and started his own consulting company. He provided consulting services for companies throughout the northeastern U.S. and then contracted with two companies to provide acquisition services throughout the U.S. In 2002, he was approached by an international company to work in Canada. His task was to turn around a troubled national Canadian company. This was successfully completed in March 2004.
In April 2004, Adam earned executive accreditation with The Institute for Independent Business. IIB is an international nonprofit focused on helping small- to medium-sized companies. In May 2004, he started CBay Advisory Group with a focus on helping small-business owners be more successful by providing hands-on business advice and support in areas where they lack business experience or expertise. His experience allows him to help business owners in almost any type of business by working with the business owner through all phases of the business life cycle to be more successful and profitable while focusing on creating a balance between their business and personal lives.
Adam earned a B.S. in business management at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA. He was awarded a Master of Information Technology Distinguished Service award and is a Fellow in the Association for Information and Image Management International. He is a two-time nominee for Small Business of the Year in the Annapolis and Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the board of the City of Bowie Business Innovation Center at Bowie State University and is a past chair of Entrepreneurs Exchange. He is an ambassador for the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council and serves on the membership committee for Business Networking International (BNI). In addition, he is a member of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Chamber’s Small Business Council and Business Advisory Board. Adam and his wife Kris live in Crownsville, MD.

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