It takes a dedicated, forward-thinking kind of person to strike out as an entrepreneur, and, on Thursday, Wilder Ferreira and Ben Calhoun helped a small group of would-be Abbeville-area entrepreneurs think about what’s needed to run a small business.
Starting a small business isn’t for people who just hate their boss, or don’t work well with others. It’s not for people who dislike policies and procedures or who think working for themselves will be an easy job, said Ferreira, director of the Freshwater Coast Center for Rural Development and and instructor at Clemson University.
Entrepreneurs have to provide structure and restrictions for themselves, and not everyone is good at being their own boss, he said.
“You have to adapt,” he said. “Every five years something happens — technology advances or something else changes.”
Consultants like Ben Calhoun, manager of the Greenwood Area Small Business Development Center, can provide essential resources for people striking out on their own. Lawyers and bankers can likewise help entrepreneurs navigate the sometimes choppy waters of business, he said, and representatives from LegalShield and South State Bank were there to offer their advice and input in the workshop.
Among the attendees were a couple who have been licensed gun dealers for years selling at shows and from their home, but who are looking to start their own brick-and-mortar gun store. One woman said she was working toward opening her own spa, focusing on holistic health and wellness approaches. Calhoun emphasized that, for each of them, planning is essential for securing funding.
Money can come from the entrepreneur’s own pockets, from friends and family, or from loans, investors, venture capitalists, grants or even crowdfunding.
“If you have nothing saved up and you’re relying entirely on a loan, that’s a big risk,” Ferreria said.
From marketing and finding the target audience for a business to analyzing traffic data and demographic trends, Ferreira and Calhoun walked attendees through a number of resources available and factors to consider before starting a business. When it comes to location, even the side of a street a business is on can make a huge difference. If you open a coffee shop on the westbound side of a busy street, but morning traffic is heaviest in the eastbound lanes, few people are likely to cross the street to buy a cup.
All of these factors are essential to consider before starting out, Calhoun said. He quoted Abraham Lincoln, saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
“It never ceases to amaze me that people get in and they’re so far down with a plan without considering if it’s feasible first,” he said.
The workshop was at the Greater Abbeville Chamber of Commerce and was sponsored by the chamber, Clemson’s Abbeville County Cooperative Extension and the state Small Business Development Center.
“We’ve been very pleased with the turnout and response to these workshops,” Ferreira said.
Bobby and Michelle Loggins, the couple seeking to open their own gun store, said it’s a decision they’ve been mulling over for years now. They’ve been operating as vendors for years, but with recent moves by Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods to limit their gun sales, they said now was the time to strike and open a locally owned store. They said they were interested by the demographic and traffic data shown during the workshop.
“There was also a location that just opened up for sale, and we think it’s perfect for us,” Michelle Loggins said. “It just seemed like now’s the time.”
Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.