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Jerry Osteryoung: Experience, knowledge crucial in starting a business

Jerry Osteryoung
Jerry Osteryoung

Running your own business can be wonderful, since no one is looking over your shoulder or telling you what to do.

Most people who start a business do so not for the expected financial gain, but either to be in control of their destiny or to accomplish certain goals.

Many who go into business for themselves have a certain sense of contentment, but more importantly, they are engaged by the challenge of running their own business.

While starting and running your own business certainly can be wonderful, we also have seen many people fail at this task.

Most times, 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 recently met with two men who wanted to start their own business. While they worked in the industry in which they wanted to start a business, they had no idea of the cost and no understanding of marketing.

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

In both of the above cases, the “entrepreneur-to-be” lacked the requisite experience so crucial to run a business. Without this experience, starting a business can be a license for a disaster.

Experience is necessary as you learn how to avoid costly mistakes and how to run a business profitably.

One example: When a new entrepreneur I was working with was purchasing a product, she was losing money on every item once all shipping-and-handling costs were factored into the cost.

Experience can be garnered from two sources. First, you can take classes at a small business development center. Additionally, I would encourage all entrepreneurs to take an accounting course on Quick Books, which is regarded as the leading software program for small businesses.

Further, there are three areas you need to have expertise in before you start a business: accounting, marketing/advertising and management/leadership.

Another way to gain valuable experience is to work in a meaningful job in the industry your small business will focus on. The more experience you get by working in an industry, the fewer mistakes you likely are going to make, therefore increasing your chances for success.

Starting a business is a challenging but rewarding process. How you prepare for this venture is just as important as how you run your small business.

Jerry Osteryoung, a business consultant and Jim Moran professor of entrepreneurship (emeritus) and professor of finance (emeritus) at Florida State University, can be reached at