Passion & Reality: 2 Essential Ingredients for Small Business Success

By Bert Shlensky, Score Westchester Small Business Coach

As a SCORE small business coach, I’ve been privileged to work with over 200 entrepreneurs and Westchester business owners over the past two years. During this time, I’ve found that there are two essential ingredients that separate the dreamers from the do-ers. Businesses that make it are run by people who have a passion for what they do – and realistic expectations about what it takes to make it happen.

If you love what you do, you’ll always do what you love. And if you’re doing what you love, you’re going to become very good at it. And this is a country that rewards excellence.– Billy Joel

Starting a business is not easy! You need passion and enthusiasm for what you do in order to sustain and motivate you through the hard work of developing a mission statement and business plan. Never forget that enthusiasm is contagious! When you’re passionate and committed to your concept, you will do a better job marketing the business concepts to institutions, suppliers and customers.

Unless you know where you are going any road will take you there. – Theodore Leavitt

Passion is essential, but it must be balanced by a realistic understanding of business realities, your local market, and financial parameters. This is the bottom line. There are lots of good ideas. However, entrepreneurs need to consider whether they can execute the idea, make enough sales and most important make money.

It’s important to understand the time and planning requirements for success. Are you able to accomplish all the details and logistical elements of a program? Do you have the support, resources and expertise to compete?

One of the most common issues facing entrepreneurs is balancing these two needs. It is the excitement and energy that will drive your Westchester business. However, businesses frequently fail because what appears to be a small issue turns out to be a critical weak link. Being realistic allows you to be flexible. As a small business coach, I’ve seen several clients find success in starting a little slower or smaller than they originally thought, getting the kinks out, developing some working capital and then expanding.

I have also learned there are three key concepts that need to be covered in starting a Westchester business.

  • The idea or concept.
  • The most successful businesses I have been a small business coach for have a clear focus and differentiated approach. Develop an elevator speech that allows you to convey the problem your business solves and the benefits customers will enjoy if they choose you.

  • Your financial plans.
  • The business must have enough capital to survive. The purpose of the financial plan is to show investors the business can make a profit. Make full use of your financial plan as a guide to develop your Westchester business efficiently.

    For example, your business plan can be used to evaluate different sales and sourcing strategies, start up and long term costs, and capital requirements. Use your plan to assess potential profitability and risks. The plan to mortgage a home and living without a salary all have benefits, costs and risks that need to be evaluated.

  • The marketing plan.
  • How are you going to attract customers? The marketing plan details how you will attract the business that generates revenues. There are several parts to this process: Describe the idea or concept; Describe the customer; Describe competition; Say how the business is unique; Describe how the product will be marketed to reach consumers.

    The best, simplest and most underused advice we can give as a small business coach is to Google everything. Who is the competition? What is the difference in the product? What is the difference in pricing? This is the information you need to be successful.

Starting a Westchester business is an exciting and potentially profitable effort. However it takes time, analysis, capital and commitment. Ignoring the requirements can be fatal while facing them can make the experience exciting and rewarding.