Doing your homework can turn business dreams into reality

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

If only things could work out like they do on television.

Buy an old house, preferably the worst house in the best neighborhood, gut it, overcome a few minor setbacks (“Oh, no! There’s a pipe in that wall!) and in half an hour, you’ve got a beautiful home, complete with open-concept kitchen, worth a hundred thousand dollars more than you’ve invested.

Or, you convince “Mr. Wonderful” you’ve invented the next fidgit spinner and he’ll shepherd your product into another “Shark Tank” success story.

The fact is, most enterprises don’t turn out the way they do on television.

According to the Small Business Association, 30 percent of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50 percent during the first five years, 66 percent during the first 10 and only 25 percent make it 15 years or more.

The usual reasons for failure include not investigating the market, problems with a business plan, too little financing, bad location and marketing, lack of flexibility and trying to expand too quickly.

But that doesn’t mean small businesses don’t succeed. In fact, more than 99 percent of employing organizations in the U.S. are small businesses, and 70 percent of the new jobs created in the past 10 years were in small businesses.

With the recent loss of two landmark downtown stores in McCook — JC Penney’s and Hershberger’s Music — it’s gratifying to see the amount of new business activity taking place in our community.

While a major franchise, Ace Hardware, is moving into the JC Penney space, many of the new businesses are being started by young entrepreneurs, some taking over existing firms and others launching from the ground up.

The Hormel Business Plan Competition, conducted through McCook Community College, has helped spur business activity in Southwest Nebraska, counting GameOn and Loop Brewing Co. among its successful alumni.

Other local help is available as well, through the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project — REAP — which has periodic office hours at the McCook Economic Development Corp., 402 Norris Ave. Suite 301 on the third floor of the Keystone Business Center in McCook.

That includes this Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call the MEDC at (308) 345-1200 for an appointment.

REAP offers technical assistance, educational and networking opportunities and a loan program for small businesses. It also has three bilingual specialists and operates the state’s only Women’s Business Center, and is designed to assist all types of small businesses, including those with 10 or fewer employees, self-employed full-time, part-time, home-based, start-up and store-front businesses.

Visit www.cfra.org/reap for more information.

It’s great to be entertained and inspired by television shows about entrepreneurship, but doing your homework and taking advantage of all available resources can help turn that inspiration into reality.

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