Welcome to Ask an Expert Business Series with Misty Lambrecht, the owner of Webfoot Marketing and Design, sharing valuable insights based on her extensive 15 years of experience in business startups and advising in Lincoln County. What are the common mistakes many people make when starting a business? First, they believe they can outperform their competitors. While this may sometimes be true, it's essential to recognize that competitors often have industry knowledge and reasons for their actions. Before launching a business, it's wise to thoroughly research the industry, suppliers, and the number of competitors in the market.
One misconception I held was that contacting competitors to discuss their business was a bad idea. However, my experience proved me wrong after being in business for over 12 years. Encouraged by a class I took, I made a phone call to another web designer, and to my surprise, she was open to conversation. We had an insightful discussion, sharing insights on dealing with similar client situations and even discussing where we sourced website-related items. These conversations didn't reveal trade secrets or proprietary recipes, but local and insightful industry information. Many businesses are willing to engage in dialogue, especially when approached with genuine interest and questions about starting a business, vendors, supply delivery, and employee recruitment.
It's important to acknowledge that running a business alone is challenging. Reaching
out to professionals in the same field, connecting with similar businesses, and even
working as an employee in a related business can provide valuable insights for your
own entrepreneurial journey. I highly recommend taking diverse business classes,
delving into topics like bookkeeping, recordkeeping, taxes, and marketing. Joining your
local Chamber of Commerce can also offer networking opportunities and valuable
Remember, you don't have to be a business owner to join the chamber. Additionally, consult your local economic development office and thoroughly research the location where you plan to establish your business. If foot traffic is crucial, spend time observing the area, counting pedestrians and cars passing by. Rushing into an idea without basic knowledge of the chosen location, associated regulations, supply availability, real-life costs (e.g., insurance, rent, business licenses), and the demand for your product can lead to business failures.
It's essential to assess whether the local customer base is already saturated for the products or services you plan to offer. In summary, investing time in extensive learning, understanding the industry, location, vendors, and customers, and establishing relationships can significantly enhance your chances of success as a business owner. Avoid the pitfalls of ignorance by gaining fundamental knowledge and making informed decisions from the start.