I just had to make a comment on this great article at the New York Times about starting a business called –
February 23, 2011, 7:00 am
You Should Open A Store!By JAY GOLTZ
When we met, she told me her story: where she came from, what she had been doing in Chicago, and what she was considering. Given her background, starting a store seemed like a logical move — but there were some reasons for concern. She says she believes that it will probably cost $300,000 to get the store open, and while she has some money, she cannot finance it on her own.
She had already talked to the Small Business Administration. She learned that the S.B.A. does not finance start-ups. As a matter of fact, she learned that the S.B.A. doesn’t finance anything. It guarantees loans from banks. But banks don’t finance start-ups, either. She was also struggling to create a business plan. She had never done one, and she didn’t find the process fun, easy, or rewarding. She was a successful merchant with an art degree and a passion for cooking. There are only so many brain cells.
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Atlanta – first visit to NYC this Nov 22
There are high-end kitchen cookware home parties, catalog businesses, online businesses and the stores like Macy’s all competing in the same niche. The number one thing that I saw in the article was about taking all the skill sets and interests she has to pull from them a picture that could inspire her to find solutions that will work for her. But, the other thing that must be included is the current way our world is now, including that app developers can make a fortune as a business making specific apps for iPhones, and alternative business models are working.
There were a couple businesses in New York which borrowed the kitchens of restaurants, put their goods in a sandwich wagon and tweeted when they would be somewhere. It worked. They went to the customers and developed word of mouth in an unusual way. There are trade shows which never existed before that are open audiences in one place and if she simply sold arms instead of kitchenware . . . or, specialized polymers, or brokered patents it would work.
The other note is that it helps to look toward customers first, and then the what and how. What do they need, where do they get it now, are they doing without it, where would they look for it? There is a great online site for furniture and furnishing that modify to suit very, very small living spaces. By focusing on that niche where nearly every item being offered expands or contracts to serve multiple purposes, they can sell all over the world to meet an actual need that people have and is not met elsewhere. They would never get that coverage if the niche weren’t targeted or if they served only one community rather than the entire world through an online presence.
The other thing is that in more homes than not, where those wealthy enough to purchase high-end kitchen equipment live – they don’t cook. They eat out at restaurants instead. Cooking might be a hobby but probably not because it makes a mess which has to be cleaned up afterward. There might be (in Chicago), a desire by middle class and upper middle class families to do more cooking, but if that is the case – they are probably doing it to save money, not to buy more pots and pans to do it. Restaurants buy possibly, but those markets are already saturated with suppliers.
So, the questions that need answers are more about what and not, \”how\”. If she is passionate about what she can offer to people, then that is the real passion behind it. And, that could serve just about anything done in any manner. So, the other important questions that need to be answered have to do with what she wants to live – sitting at a computer 18 hours a day by herself, meeting with people, traveling all over the world, being stuck babysitting a brick and mortar store, or all of the above? or traveling to people’s homes to have cooking parties? or twittering 24 hours a day? or making new friends that will be ongoing relationships from her business for many years?
ooh long winded, sorry about that.
oh yeah – and microfinancing is an option for start-ups, community organizations sometimes offer financing and women’s business groups in the community also offer some, county and city economic development funding can also be a source. Some unions offer start-up money, some church groups and some minority business grants still exist. Professional associations often sponsor small loans to start-ups and community grants for purchase or renovations of facilities are available. Urban renewal grants are still in place whether it is Chicago or Atlanta or wherever.
The above is my long-winded comment and I wanted to add it here because it may be too long for it to be included at their site and the article is great, the comments about it were very insightful, the information it has is accurate and this is important to know.
I also wanted to include the links to some of the things that I was describing –