The nation's small businesses are credited with creating the majority of the new jobs over the past few years. So, just how does one go about starting a new business?
Starting a new business requires a good skills set and, in most cases, professional help. Ryan Wall, director of Wheeling Jesuit University's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, said prospective business owners should develop a solid business plan before painting their name on the side of a truck or posting an "Open For Business" sign.
"The business plan is your playbook," he said. "It should reflect a three- to five-year plan with a market strategy showing how the company will compete in the marketplace. It is important to have a solid concept of what you want to be and what you want to become."
Starting a news business requires lots of planning, according to Ryan Wall, director of Wheeling Jesuit University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.
Photo by Fred Connors
The market strategy is a major factor in determining if a business has a chance to succeed, Wall said. It will present a red light or green light on whether or not to proceed.
"This requires extensive research," Wall said. "Prospective business owners must determine if there is a market for their product or service and if there are similar businesses in the target market area."
He said the strategy should reveal if a new business can offer a product or service better than the competition - or if it can find a niche among its competitors.
Q: How do you go about starting a new business?
A: First, you ask for help. Agencies such as the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Wheeling Jesuit University are a good resource for those interested in starting a new venture.
"If there is no known competition for the product or service it may mean a green light for a new idea or a red light because there is no market for it," he said.
While developing a business plan may be a daunting task, it can be achieved with help.
"I recommend finding an economic development specialist to help you," Wall said.
"He or she can help you set up your pricing strategy, specify your distribution channel, define if it is to be a walk-in or online business or whether the target buyers will be retail or wholesale customers."
He said the state of West Virginia has small business development centers throughout the state that are ready, willing and able to assist prospective new business owners.
"Wheeling Jesuit University has a center focused on technical businesses and West Virginia Northern Community College has a more general offering," he said.
Another important element of a business plan is the financial projection.
"This will expose the company's financial ability to operate," Wall said. "It could be another red light."
He said many new small business owners must allocate their personal income based on the income of the business.
"Starting a new business is not for everybody," Wall said. "You have to be prepared to take a risk with your personal finance situation. Unless you have start-up money or external financial help, you may not want to give up your day job for awhile."
He said new business owners should also be armed with a good skill set including the ability to manage people, personal selling, good planning and self-discipline.
Once the decision is made to proceed, new business owners can get started by registering with the West Virginia Secretary of State to obtain a license.
A business license may also be required from the municipality in which the business operates.