May 18, 2024

So You Want to Start a Business?

Small Business Advice

Jerry Osteryoung | 12/5/2016

Running your own business is wonderful!  No one is looking over your shoulder or telling you what you should be doing.  Most people who start their own business do so not for the expected financial gain, but to either to be in control of their own destiny or to accomplish certain goals (e. g. sales of $5,000,000)

If you look at the folks who started their own business, they have a certain sense of contentment-but much more important, they are engaged by the challenge of running their own business.

While starting and running your own business is wonderful, we have also seen many people fail at this task.  The failure generally is not related to motivation or desire.  In my opinion, most of these start-up business failures are related to the entrepreneur not having enough experience or knowledge.  I met with two men last week that wanted to start their own business.  While they currently worked in the industry that they wanted to start a business in, they had no idea of the cost of running the business, or an understanding of marketing.

Another entrepreneur I was assisting was a great chef and wanted to start a restaurant, but did not have any knowledge of management of employees, accounting or purchasing.

In both of the above cases, the “entrepreneur-to-be” lacked the requisite experience so crucial to run a business.

Starting a business is great, but without this experience, it is a license for a disaster.

Experience is necessary as you learn to how to avoid costly mistakes and learn how to run a business profitably. One new entrepreneur was purchasing a product, and when all shipping and handling costs were added in, she was losing money on every item.

Experience can be garnered from two sources.  First, you can take some classes on starting your business at a Small Business Development Center. Additionally, I would encourage all entrepreneurs to take an accounting course on Quick Books.  Quick Books is the leading accounting software program for small businesses. 

Some of the areas that you really need to learn a lot before you start a business are:

1. Accounting

2. Marketing/Advertising

3. Management/Leadership

These three are the basic areas that you need to have expertise in before you start a business.

The other way to get experience is to actually work in a meaningful job in the industry that you choose.  My sister and her husband run a business in Miami specializing in towels for to the hotel/motel industry.  Before they bought the business, they worked in it for 6 months.  They had no experience at all in this type of business before they bought it but garnered the necessary skills through this apprenticeship.

The more experience you get by working in an industry, the less mistakes you are going to make and the greater chance of success you will have.

Starting a business is a challenging but rewarding process.  You can increase the chances of success by taking courses in critical areas of running a business and/or getting as much experience as you can by working in a meaningful position.

You can do this!

Dr. Osteryoung has directly has assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is a bestseller on He can be reached by e-mail at

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