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Managing a Small Business: By Paul Nolta, Assistant Director- Inland Empire Small Business Development Center

Managing a Small Business
So you want to start your own business?

By: Paul L Nolta

Over the last ten years I have had the opportunity to consult with a large number of clients that have wanted to look into starting their own business. A common question I get asked is, “What type of business should I start?”. These clients struggle to find an area of interest or a business that they feel will succeed in today’s marketplace. Following are some guidelines that may help the would-be entrepreneur in their quest to start their own business.

The starting point and one of the most difficult problems for the would-be entrepreneur is finding their niche. The first thing you should do is to identify your skill-set: what have you done; gone to college for; enjoyed doing; been complimented on; generally, felt comfortable doing; or is there something that really excites you? If you worked for someone else, have certain tasks been assigned to you because you did them well or that you accepted with great anticipation of the challenges and opportunities ahead? Were you one to seek out targets of opportunity in the workplace? If so, what were those targets of opportunity?

Next, lets list the characteristics of successful entrepreneurship:

1. The ability to conceptualize a plan. Can the owner view the business in its entirety as it relates to both its internal and external environments? The entrepreneur must recognize and plan for the total operation now and in the future.
2. The ability to manage time and to learn. Since the entrepreneur must initially be a jack-of-all-trades, the ability to work smarter – not harder, becomes very important.
3. The ability to adapt to change. The entrepreneur who cannot grow personally and professionally will soon be in trouble. Most entrepreneurs fail because they cannot stop being the technician and move on to being the administrator or manager. In other words, they cannot delegate.
4. The ability to manage others. The entrepreneur needs to develop the ability to organize work groups in order to achieve company goals.

There are many tests or quizzes that an individual can take to help them determine if they have the necessary skills to become an entrepreneur. A short one would include such questions as:

1. Are you a leader?
2. Do you like to make your own decisions?
3. Do others turn to you for help in making decisions?
4. Do you enjoy competition?
5. Do you have the commitment, willpower and self-discipline?
6. Do you plan ahead?
7. Do you like people?
8. Do you get along with others?

Most entrepreneurs would have the characteristics to answer ‘yes’ to all of the above.

Once you have discovered an industry you are passionate about and decided that you are willing to assume the risk, the next thing to do is to determine if your idea is feasible or if the business or industry you want to start or participate in is growing or declining. You must be able to answer this question, “How many widgets do you need to sell per day to make a profit?”. Our team at the Inland Empire Small Business Development Center would be happy to help you with this process.

Paul Nolta is a Business Consultant with the Inland Empire Small Business Development Center, a non-profit organization that provides free consulting services to small businesses in the Inland Empire. Inland Empire SBDC, under contract with the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce and the City of Temecula’s Temecula Valley Entrepreneurs Exchange, provides free consulting services for businesses and citizens of Temecula Valley. Paul can be reached at 951.781.2345.

I hope that this article was helpful for those of you considering to become an entrepreneur. Next time, we will discuss the value of planning for your business.

Paul Nolta, Assistant Director


43200 Business Park Drive
Temecula CA 92562
Ph: 951-781-2345 | Fax: 909-983-5515

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