Featuring Cheryl Mills, Associate Deputy Administrator
Office of Entrepreneurial Development
U.S. Small Business Administration
Each year more than 600,000 new businesses are started in the United States. Many will succeed while others fail. Find out if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how training maybe be the key to success.
SBTN Podcast: Is Entrepreneurship For You?
Johnson: Welcome to SBA’s Small Business Training Network. I’m Ron Johnson reporting from the U.S. Small Business Administration—your small business resource. SBA and its nationwide network of partners help millions of potential and current small business owners start, grow and succeed. Resources and programs targeted for small businesses provide an advantage—a leg up--necessary to help small businesses effectively compete in the marketplace.
Today we are talking about entrepreneurship. Did you know that each year approximately 600,000 new businesses are started in the United States. These businesses are started by courageous people who seek opportunity, challenge and financial reward. Many will succeed, while many others will fail.
What separates the successes from the failures? The answer may be in training. We’ll get back to that in a moment, but now let’s talk about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
With me today is Cheryl Mills, associate administrator of SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development.
Cheryl, what are some important characteristics that lead to successful entrepreneurship?
Mills: Starting a small business can be exciting and rewarding. However, becoming an entrepreneur or working as one each day is not for everyone. In business, there are no guarantees. There is simply no way to eliminate all of the risks associated with starting a small business. It takes a special person, with a strong commitment and specific skills to be successful as an entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur needs to be a self starter. It will be entirely up to you to develop projects, organize your time and follow through on details.
Do you get along with people? Business owners need to develop working relationships with a variety of people including customers, vendors, staff, bankers, and professionals such as lawyers, accountants or consultants. Some say the hardest part of being self-employed is dealing with employees and demanding customers.
Johnson: It seems decision-making is an important skill?
Mills: That’s right. Small business owners are required to make decisions constantly - often quickly, independently, and under pressure. And I’d add good planning skills, too. Research indicates that poor planning is responsible for most business failures. Good organization of financials, inventory, schedules, and production can help you avoid many pitfalls.
Johnson: And let’s not forget about the physical and emotional stamina to run a business?
Mills: Business ownership can be exciting, but it's also a lot of work. Can you face six or seven 12-hour work days every week? Running a business can wear you down emotionally. Some business owners burn out quickly from having to carry all the responsibility for the success of their business on their own shoulders. Strong motivation will help you survive slowdowns and periods of burnout.
Johnson: Running a small business also affects your family, too?
Mills: The first few years of business start¬up can be hard on family life. It's important for family members to know what to expect and for you to be able to trust that they will support you during this time. There also may be financial difficulties until the business becomes profitable, which could take months or years. You may have to adjust to a lower standard of living or put family assets at risk in the short-term.
Johnson: These are a just a few, but very important questions, to be answered if you are thinking about starting a business. But if you’ve decided to take the plunge, you might want to better prepare yourself by taking advantage of the many free courses SBA offers through its online Small Business Training Network or SBTN.
Cheryl, what exactly is the SBTN?
Mills: SBTN is a virtual campus housing courses, workshops, publications, information resource learning tools and direct access to electronic counseling and other forms of technical assistance designed to assist entrepreneurs.
It is especially helpful to individuals who are considering the prospects of starting a business. The site offers extensive information about starting, growing and financing a small business. Its online library offers hundreds of electronic publications and its Small Business Training Network at www.sba.gov/training features over 40 free online courses.
Johnson: Are the courses free and how do you register?
Mills: All SBTN courses are free. However, plans are under way to offer some fee-based courses in the future.
Of the 40+ courses offered on SBTN, only 21of the courses require an online registration.
But registration is easy. Go to the SBTN homepage at http://www.sba.gov/training and click on Free Online Courses. There you can review topics and specific course offerings. Click on the course of your choice. Some courses require that a brief online registration be completed. The forms are available online. Then complete the course at your leisure.
Johnson: How long does it take to complete a typical course?
Mills: It varies. However, a typical SBTN course will take from 30 minutes to 2 hours to fully complete. Some courses offer additional resources that are optional and could take many hours to review.
Johnson: Is any special equipment needed to take a course?
O’Conner: All you need is a computer and basic Internet connection. If you don’t have access to a computer at your home or business many libraries have computers you can use.
Johnson: Cheryl, in addition, to free training, which is a great opportunity, what other services does SBA provide to those thinking about starting a business?
Mills: SBA also has:
Over 60 district offices, with at least one office in every state.
More than 10,000 SCORE counselors who provide free business counseling.
Over 1000 Small Business Development Centers.
And, more than 90 Women Business Centers.
You can learn about all of our resources by accessing our Website at www.sba.gov.
Johnson: You’ve been listening to the SBA’s Small Business Training Network…I’m Ron Johnson reporting.