Tag Archives: new businesses

The idea of starting your own business can be frightening with the recession - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

6 Tips To Launching Your Own Business In A Down Economy

The idea of starting your own business can be frightening, particularly with the recession stubbornly choking the Arizona economy. However, by following a few tips for getting started, launching your own company doesn’t need to be scary.

In fact, there are a few advantages to launching a business during an economic downturn. Commercial space is available at extraordinarily good prices. Talented professionals are looking for work. Goods and services can be found at discounted prices. And, depending on your industry, competition may be scarce.

1. Practice Due Diligence
It’s critical to objectively evaluate your proposed venture. Asking yourself some hard questions may discourage you from pursuing your first venture, but that is not a negative or pessimistic approach. It’s a useful tool for evaluating your business. Start with these questions: Is there a genuine need for the product or service you are offering? Is that need already being met by established companies? If so, what improvement or unique feature are you bringing to the table? Do you have the necessary skills and resources to start your business? If not, are you prepared to bring in the people with the skills and capital that are needed, and possibly give up some ownership?

2. Prepare a Business Plan
Too often, entrepreneurs articulate a great idea and foresee success, but gloss over the hard work. That hard part is thinking through the idea for your business and writing it into a plan, including the steps you’ll need to take to implement your idea. Start with an outline and consult a book or online guide about writing business plans. It’s important that your end result is a completed plan that includes a budget for your business.

3. Determine Capital Requirements
Most small businesses are funded with the business owner’s own money and funds from family and friends. A venture capitalist or angel investor may provide the necessary capital in exchange for part ownership of your business. It’s critical to focus on the amount of money you will need to start and operate your business, including at each stage of the company’s development.

4. Create a Board of Advisers
Creating a network of advisers can be a tremendous asset to a start-up business. It’s helpful if that board consists of advisers with a diverse array of professional backgrounds. That diversity will ensure you receive insights from a wide range of perspectives. Good choices for advisers may include your attorney, accountant, suppliers, customers, bankers and realtors.

5. Tap Into Available Resources
There are myriad advisers, consultants and nonprofit agencies that will assist you in developing your business — marketing it, creating websites and raising capital — who work for free or a nominal fee. The Small Business Administration (SBA), for instance, is a valuable and cost-effective resource. Moreover, SCORE: Counselors to America’s Small Business, provides free advice and mentoring for small business owners. If you pay for a similar service, be sure to get recommendations from a trusted adviser. Then, check that company’s references.

6. Listen
The more you listen — the more you truly hear an adviser’s ideas — the more advice you will be able to translate into actionable plans for your company.

Still, while these recessionary times may present a good opportunity for entrepreneurs, there are several considerations to keep in mind.

Select an industry that is doing well, despite the recession. The health care industry, senior care and information technologies are financially better off than many other industries.

Choose a business sector with a bright future — Businesses that tap into growing consumer demand for green or sustainable products may be an avenue worth pursuing. There was a 41 percent increase in consumer purchases of green products and services from 2004 to 2009, according to the research firm Mintel. Moreover, there may be federal or state subsidies or tax credits available for green companies.

Select a company with low capital requirements. Home-based businesses with low start-up costs may be good choices, notably because the ongoing credit crunch will likely make it tough to get a loan to cover these expenses.

If you are considering starting your own business, you will be in good company. More than half the companies listed on the Fortune 500 in 2009 were launched during a recession, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Moreover, in 2009, an average of 558,000 new businesses were launched each month in the United States.

The trick to joining these ranks is to get started. There’s no better time than now, recession or not.

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something,” Nolan Bushnell, founder of both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, once said. “It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Wooing businesses to AZ in the recession

Despite Tough Times, Economic Development Groups Continue To Woo New Businesses To Arizona

Economic development experts in Arizona hope to parlay the state’s convenient geographic location, and even a stagnant housing market, into attracting new businesses.

Toss in relatively low taxes, a freeze on new regulations and a well-honed reputation as a business-friendly state, and recruiters have a tool box full of reasons why businesses should consider relocating to Arizona.

But that’s not all the economic development agencies tout. Local experts know that businesses looking to relocate are interested in those intangible quality-of-life issues: an available and educated work force, a higher-education community that excels in research and churns out highly qualified workers, and a relatively low cost for starting up and doing business.

Television commercials are generally cost-prohibitive, officials say, leading them to rely heavily on the Internet for their recruitment efforts. Feature articles in national trade publications also represent a low-cost way of spreading the Arizona story.

Two of Arizona’s largest economic development agencies — the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO) — are collaborating on a campaign to lure California businesses to Arizona.

Scarlett Spring, GPEC’s senior vice president of business development, says her team makes targeted trips to California at least once a month, with specific emphasis on the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego. Often, GPEC invites local mayors along to give recruitment efforts an official flavor. Bringing mayors, Spring says, gives recruiters leverage and “opens doors that might not otherwise be open.”

The GPEC message to California?

“Arizona has a business-friendly environment and a reputation of having lowered taxes in some shape or form for 10 consecutive years,” Spring says. “It’s a lower-cost environment for their employees, whether through workers’ comp, competitive wages or health care insurance. Those are the operational costs that a company looks at when considering a financial move or expansion.”

Noting that virtually every phase of running a business is more expensive in California, Spring adds, “What we’re doing is trying to position Arizona as being complementary to the California marketplace.”

DGPEC also invites businesses to Arizona for special events. For example, last November biotech and solar companies from the Bay Area were hosted for a weekend in the Valley. The visit included attending a game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. Two of those companies are close to moving to Arizona, Spring says.

Laura Shaw, senior vice president of marketing for TREO, agrees with the strategy of taking advantage of Arizona’s location. California businesses struggling under mounting operating costs have the ability to move to Arizona and still access California markets.

TREO targets such industries as aerospace, defense, biosciences and alternative energy, and only meets with companies that have been pre-qualified as likely candidates for relocation.

“Research shows that labor drives all market decisions — whether a company can find the labor that fills their needs,” Shaw says. “We focus on matching our assets with a company’s needs.”

Despite the national perception that Tucson is a low-wage community, TREO presses for higher-paying jobs.

What the Tucson area offers is a high-growth Southwestern region situated at the doorstep of California and Mexico, with young talent graduating from the University of Arizona. Tucson is also in the heart of one of the most heavily traveled trucking networks, linking Mexican markets to the California coast.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Commerce, though on a limited basis because of budget cuts, continues to participate in trade shows and foreign direct investment events in Canada, Mexico and Europe. Commerce officials and hired contractors work with foreign companies that are interested in expanding to Arizona. They also help match Arizona firms with foreign customers.

Kent Ennis, interim director of the Commerce Department, confirms that a tight budget makes recruiting more difficult, yet the agency reaches out to major industries, including bioscience and solar. In fact, the Commerce Department led an Arizona delegation to a national convention of bioscience technology companies in Atlanta on May 18.

In addition, the Commerce Department assisted in the relocation of Spain’s Albiasa Solar, which in April announced plans to build a $1 billion renewable solar energy plant near Kingman. The project will create 2,000 construction jobs and more than 100 permanent positions when it is completed in 2013, Ennis says.

The Arizona Association of Economic Development, which is more of a trade organization representing Arizona firms and does not embark on recruiting efforts, nevertheless gets its share of contacts from businesses considering a move to Arizona, says Bruce Coomer, executive director of AAED. But first, he makes sure to sing Arizona’s praises. He mentions the usual advantages, but adds an unlikely twist.

Because our housing market crashed,” he says, “that’s a plus. Now there is affordable housing if a company wants to move here, especially from California. Their employees can really get some bargains.”