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The Small Business Center provides trained counselors that work to increase the success rate and number of viable small businesses in the area. Counselors offer assistance to prospective and existing small business owners. Counseling services are free and confidential.

Register for Counseling

Are you ready?

Are you ready for business counseling? Take the quiz to find out.

1. Are you really passionate about what you want to do?

Everyone fantasizes about quitting their job for the "glamorous" life of an entrepreneur, but it takes passion to get through the rough stages of starting or growing a business. If you don't feel strongly about what it is you want to do, you'll get frustrated when your business takes more time, money, and effort from you than you planned.

2. Do you have relevant experience, training, or mentorship in your desired business field?

While it is possible to start a successful business without any experience in your industry, it usually means more time spent and money wasted trying to figure things out. Mistakes will be made. Some mistakes you may not recover from. Educating yourself through working in the field, or with a mentor that's been successful in that industry and is willing to teach you, or through a combination of business education and industry work will be time well spent before launching your business.

3. Do you know how your product or service will be unique or different from what's currently being offered?

Starting a business that's just like all of the other businesses in your industry is a huge mistake. The key to marketing and selling your products or services is in having a "unique selling proposition". You have to be able to explain how your business is different from your competitors in a way that will matter to consumers.

4. Are you financially ready to make this move?

While the Small Business Center can assist you with locating potential funding sources for your business and helping you to prepare a business plan, you will still need savings of your own to get your business off of the ground. There is no such thing as free grant money to start a business (except in rare circumstances) and no bank will finance 100% of your needs. Plus, your business may not make money for an extended period of time, so you have to be prepared for this. If you need to borrow money to start your business, make sure you have adequate collateral and your credit is in good shape.

5. Do you know how your product or service will be unique?

Many potential entrepreneurs are so afraid that their idea will be "stolen" that they launch their business under a cloud of secrecy. They tell virtually no one about their idea until they've invested heavily into developing the idea into a business. This is a mistake. Sometimes there's no one selling a product or service like yours because there's no market for it or the market is too expensive or difficult to reach. You need to test your idea before you start your business. Test it and see if people respond. Sell some of your products or services at a profitable price first before you make the leap.

6. Do you have your immediate family's support?

Starting a business requires a big commitment of time and resources. Time and resources that won't be available to your family. While you may be excited about launching a business, your partner may have very real concerns. Discuss your business idea with your family and make sure that you have their support before you move forward.

7. Are you committed to learning new skills?

Being a successful business owner requires an ongoing education. The business world changes much too quickly to rely on what you've learned in the past. You must have a learner's mindset and invest in acquiring new skills.

8. Are you an implementer?

This is a big one. The best education in the world won't help you if you're not implementing what you're learning. It's better to implement and correct as you go along than to wait until conditions are perfect. Perfect is the enemy of the good.

9. Are you committed to excellence?

Great marketing can't save a mediocre product or service. You must have a great product or service that can generate word-of-mouth and keep your customers coming back for more.

10. Are you prepared to play multiple roles?

While you may want to start a business to do what you love, you must also manage the business, market, sell, and be the visionary for your business. These are skills that can be learned, but if you're not prepared to spend as much time working on the business as working in the business, then launching a business may not be for you.

How did you do? Are you ready for 1-on-1 counseling? Register now.