I truly admire someone who can take their life's passion and make a living from it. Those who know me for more than 15 minutes know I love tennis. I love playing it and I love watching it. Since I can't make a living playing tennis, and never could, maybe I could make a living being around tennis? Would someone pay me to attend all major tennis tournaments around the world? When I figure out how to make that happen, I will make sure to email you from Wimbledon with the answer.
My brother grew up loving NASCAR. He always wanted a job that allowed him to go to every NASCAR race around the country, hang out in the pits and meet the drivers. He got that job working for ESPN and went to every NASCAR race for several years. But guess what? After a couple years, he didn't feel the same excitement. The novelty of being away every weekend for eight months of the year wore off when he wanted to start a family. He compromised and got another job in the field of racing without as much travel and has two beautiful daughters to show for it. He figured out how to take his passion and make a living from it.
We get several calls each month at the Chamber office from people wanting to take their passion and start a business. Each call is unique and very specific to the type of business the person is considering. Some are buying an existing business and seeking financing. Many others are at the very early stages of taking their dream and putting it to paper. But the consistent themes between them are enthusiasm and lots of questions about where to go for answers to starting their business.
The topic of entrepreneurship and where exactly to go for guidance was a rallying discussion this week at a meeting I attended. We had representatives from education, local government, economic development, and the Small Business Administration sitting around the table and we all agreed. We need to make the roadmap to entrepreneurship as easy to understand as possible. And so we begin.
Over the next several months our task force, which is overseen by the Workforce Investment Board for our region, will organize the information so that no matter where you are in your path of entrepreneurship, you will know the next steps. Envision a flow chart: if "Yes," then here's your next step; if "No," here's what you need to do first and go this route instead. There are a lot of resources for business owners and several organizations in our community and state play a role in the process.
The great thing is we are not re-creating the wheel here. The West Virginia Small Business Development Center and the West Virginia chapter of the SBA have much of this information already compiled. Check out the website at WVSBDC.org and watch the Jump Start video or download the booklet "Going into Business in West Virginia." Go to the SBA website at www.sba.gov/wv and here you will find a calendar of many webinars for both new and existing small businesses, as well as sample business plans needed to seek financing from banks and other SBA resources.
So our task force now begins reviewing all the resources and compiling a "roadmap." Next steps will be to make sure all possible stakeholders and access points are talking the same "language" and we all direct people to the proper place on the roadmap. And even more exciting is a strategy to get more people thinking about being entrepreneurs - from school children to those looking for a second career.
Many people who have launched their own businesses will tell you that when you take the leap of enjoying something for the fun of it to making it a business venture, some fear may enter the equation. It's now a business and you have to focus on payroll, and happy customers, and paying your vendors, and an office, insurance, and bank deposits, and computers that work, and HVAC, taxes, and inventory, and the list goes on But when you have a road map and guidance, you are now in control of your vision.
I say "Go for it because you only live once."
Visit this space every other Sunday for more Chamber news. We also invite you to call us at 304-422-3588, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the Chamber office at 409 Market St. in Parkersburg.
Jill Parsons is the president/CEO of the Chamber of Commerce fthe Mid-Ohio Valley.