Find Small Business Success with 8 Tips from Seasoned Missouri Entrepreneurs
Starting a business can be full of surprises. Luckily, there’s always someone who has been there, done that. You don’t have to go it alone.
Eight Missouri entrepreneurs share their words of wisdom for fellow business owners. Here’s what they’ve learned from personal experience – so you don’t have to.
1. Prepare … to a point.
Dustin Stanton, Stanton Brothers
A plan is always a good idea. But it can’t be the only idea.
“I think someone who wants to start a business should plan,” Dustin says. “It’s not wise to think you have an amazing idea so you don’t need a plan. You don’t necessarily need a full business plan to get started, but you need to understand upfront that owning your own business isn’t 40 hours a week. On the flip side, some folks get analysis paralysis and never make a decision. You have to take leap of faith. Prepare, but just go for it.”
2. Value yourself and your vision.
Genera Moore, Motorparts Nation
When it comes to starting your own business, Genera suggests entrepreneurs look to a surprising resource: themselves.
“I would definitely tell them to work on themselves internally,” she says. “From a spiritual standpoint, we think we aren’t successful because of doubt. A lot of people don’t think too highly of themselves if they don’t get validation from family, friends, whoever. If you decide you’re going into business, you can spend too much time looking for validation. It doesn’t make sense.
“You are the person with the vision. You have a vision for a reason. Getting validation from others is null and void. You can get advice from people who know business, but just getting an opinion from someone – ‘Hey, should I start the business?’ – well, of course you should start the business. That’s not the hard part. The hard part is execution.”
3. Get comfortable with risk.
Kevin Johansen, AgButler
Kevin encourages other entrepreneurs to take control of what they can – how they spend their time, the advisers they trust. And his recommends getting comfortable with the things you can’t control.
“You’re going to have to stomach taking some risks. If you’re not willing to take a couple risks, running with that ‘a-ha’ idea is not going to work out well,” he says. “If the idea is something that you see value in, then you will stay with it. There are times you do need to reevaluate, but more times than not, trusting your gut instinct is going to work out better than overanalyzing what you’re trying to do.”
This approach has served Kevin well. But a little tenacity doesn’t hurt.
“The business side of things is not for the faint of heart,” he says. “You have to have some grit and have some thick skin to be able to endure the ride.”
4. Keep an eye on opportunities.
Patrick Montgomery, KC Cattle Co.
Many entrepreneurs don’t realize how many Resource Partners are here to help them. And often, if you have a highly specialized business or unique experience, programs are designed especially for you.
“There’s some benefit with the Small Business Administration of being a veteran,” Pat says. “And in the ag community, talk to the USDA or your Farm Service Agency rep – there are some really good opportunities out there for veterans. Keep an eye out for grants, too.”
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5. Nurture your business.
Iveth Jalinsky, Green Resources Consulting
It’s OK to love your business. Really, really love.
“I decided to call my business, Green Resources Consulting, my last baby,” Iveth says. “Approach your business as one of your kids – you can make it thrive and shine. When our children are born, we dedicate ourselves totally. So the business is going to require total dedication. But guess what? After two or three years, like a baby, you get a little bit of time for you. You regain your independence. It’s the same thing.”
Much like parenting, building a business requires support. Iveth has gotten that from groups like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City.
“It’s very important to surround yourself with people who see the positive in the craziness. Normally, new ideas are seen as crazy,” she says. “If people tell an entrepreneur it is too crazy, don’t let it go. Keep working. Because those are the greatest products that come to the market.”
6. Become an expert on your industry and your market.
Marjorie Melton, M3 Engineering
Before you invest your time, know what you’re investing it in.
“Do your homework,” Marjorie says. “Know your market and make sure there's a place for you in that market before you set out. If you know your market and know your place and know your work, you’ll be successful.”
She recommends entrepreneurs turn to the professional organizations within their industries.
“For us, it was the Engineer's Club and the American Council of Consulting Engineers, things like that,” Marjorie says. “Those organizations helped us with our networking efforts. For other people there may be other professional organizations or trade organizations that help them with the networking. But knowing the future of your industry. Knowing, for the next 10 years, what that plan is, what those trends are, that’s helpful to know where you fit in.”
7. Learn how to persuade and pitch.
Seth Kitchen, Collaboarator
Investors don’t just hand out money. They need to know why it’s needed and how it will be spent. This can pose a challenge for many entrepreneurs who are looking for funding.
“The problem is, in your pre-revenue [stage], there are no numbers,” Seth says. “You need to be able to persuade someone that what you're doing is actually useful. Learning those persuasive skills, learning how to make your project sound better than everyone else's and then convincing someone to invest in you, that’s what is very interesting.”
He recommends knowing exactly where investor dollars will go and pitching to that.
“A lot of times, people will just say, ‘I want $100,000,’ because that's a number that everyone throws out all the time, but how to spend $100,000 is actually an interesting question,” Seth says. “If you're just going to go hire one person with that $100,000, that's not super useful. You want to be able to find ways that you can use that money so you don't have to go hire someone else and show that you have the time and the capability to do that.”
8. Be positive and patient.
Amber D. Smith, Farms by Amber
Being a business owner can be like learning to ride a bike: exhilarating and terrifying. But you’re not in it alone.
“It’s scary,” Amber laughs. “If anyone has catastrophic thoughts like I do, it’s easy to think, ‘It’s going to end!’ But it’s not. You’ll find the support you need at the time that you need it. But you have to take that initial step – to try. There are support systems in place – you aren’t the first entrepreneur.”
She continues, “The thing I’m learning about entrepreneurship is that your idea isn’t a crazy idea. It’s an idea, and you have it for a reason: So you can manifest it.”
Amber is a big proponent of preparing for success but knowing that it often works on its own time.
“It’s like a garden – you have to let it produce,” she says. “You can control when you put seed in ground, but you don’t control the growth or harvest.”
Get the entrepreneurial help you need
Whether you’ve got a specific question or don’t even know what you don’t know, MOSourceLink has your back. We have hundreds of Resource Partners that provide a variety of support, ranging from classes on accounting to pitch opportunities to personalized coaching.
And if you just need a road map? Our Network Navigators can create a free Personal Action Plan
to meet your specific needs. Just give them some information about your venture and your goals. They’ll craft a custom plan that will connect you to the help you need to get where you want to go. And did we mention it’s free? It’s free!
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