Published On: Mon, Aug 2nd, 2021

What entrepreneurs need to get their projects off the ground

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Now more than ever entrepreneurs need to know what it takes to get their business startup projects off the ground. StMaartenNews.com invited Clifford Illis to once again share his expert opinion with our readers. Illis is an experienced accountant and independent auditor with over 25 years of expertise and knowledge of accounting, tax consultancy, and auditing services on St. Maarten. Here is what Illis had to say to our readers….

Clifford Illis: “I hope this will be able to shed some light on your request regarding entrepreneurs.”

When a person plans to start a company, they must first and foremost determine what business they want to start. It has to be a detailed description, or else they may get distracted and put resources in the wrong place. For example, I want to start a car wash business where I can also service cars and sell items for car detailing. This type of generalized planning does not work in the modern business environment. People are looking for specialists. If you want to be an authority in any field, you have to build that reputation by focusing on your core business. This is one of the keys to success.

I have interviewed many business people during my career and after the interview it was apparent that they were not able to define their core business. In the above example, this person is speaking about three different business that have completely different business approaches. A carwash, a car maintenance business, and a retail outlet for car accessories. I am not saying that these cannot work together. I am saying that your initial presentation should clearly define your core business. This generalized approach will almost always fail as you will not be an authority in any business. You will not grow to become the go-to guy in any one of these businesses as you will not be considered a specialist.

A second, and just as important, aspect of business, is that you must be willing to put in full time and be dedicated for many years. Jeff Bezos of Amazon took 20 years of unwavering focus and attention to build Amazon. Are you willing to devote 20 years to your business, or do you believe that you are a magician and that your business will become successful in a couple of years? If this is your line of thought, then business is not for you. Warren Buffet has devoted all his life to becoming the billionaire that he is today. Success does not come overnight.

And last, after considering the above, then you are ready to build your business plan.

Starting a business is a very specialized field in which you should solicit help. Get feedback. Have your plans reviewed by friends, family, peers, other business people. Talk to people in the same business or similar businesses to get a feel of the venture you plan to initiate. Also, please take it to an accountant and have it evaluated for financial soundness. This process takes time, but it is well worth it in the long run.

Now you are ready to go out and find funding to start your business. A word of caution. Even if you have the money beforehand, being a lucky heir to fortune or born into a family with money, it is still worth following the steps above as these are critical to put a sound business together.

As far as policies, government and small business organizations should put together structures that aspiring business people can utilize before they get started. These departments should have in place systems and training where these aspiring entrepreneurs are taken through the steps as outlined above before they even submit a business plan.

After this session, which should be a once a month session of at least 8 hours, where the general aspects of business is discussed. This will give the aspiring entrepreneur the opportunity to learn about business structures, taxation, business liability, business insurance, how to make a business plan, etc. It should be a structured seminar given by business professionals and accountants with some kind of certificate being given at the end which shows that the aspiring entrepreneur has a good, basic understand of the concept “business” which is important for a financier to know he or she has before he or she lends to or participates in the business venture of the entrepreneur.

In order for the certificate to be given, the aspiring future business person should then submit an executive summary of their business. The evaluation of this will entitle them to the certificate.

Finally, a mentoring and guidance process should be developed where especially young aspiring business people should not be left out there to fend for themselves after they get started. They should each be given a mentor once they start their business for at least one year, but two years would be the best period of time for them to get ongoing assistance and advice when needed.

Most businesses fail with the first two years of their existence, and the reason is that new business owners are not up to the challenges and discipline that business brings with it. This is why it is critical that during this phase, entrepreneurs have the support they will need to get through this initial period. I want to add as a footnote that technology is not to be left out.

Young entrepreneurs need to be savvy at what is available in business and marketing tools on the internet. Without some measure of investment in technology, it is close to impossible to compete in the modern business environment, where the proper use of or improper use for that matter of technology and social media platforms can make or break your business. So they must have an online presence and campaign setup for their business, and this should be a part of the seminar mentioned above.

One of the conditions in the mentoring program is that they need to deliver a monthly financial report to the mentor. It does not have to be on an accountant level but a good overview of income and expenses. This process and habit teach them the discipline of keeping track of your business.