The second class at the St. Petersburg Chamber's Entrepreneurship Academy was a tough one for me, because it brought up all sorts of things that I should have done by now. Many things that I should have done before I even started LocalShops1.
The fact that LocalShops1 is still here, four years later, is completely against the odds, according to statistics we heard. And that we're growing? A miracle!
Seventy-five to 80 percent of small businesses fail in the first two years, research finds. The reason? "They have no business plan, no CPA, and no lawyer," said Wayne Brass, county area manager for the Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida.
I had none of that when I started.
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The class also was a bit of a blast from the past.
The first speaker, though I had never met before, works at the Tampa Bay Times, where I spent almost a decade -- where I held my last "job." Pauline Brockman, a senior analyst at the Times, gave us some great tips for doing market research; many resources that are actually free and available to us all.
Next up was Wayne Brass, of the Small Business Development Center. One of the things that I actually did right when I first started was go to the center for a free one-on-one counseling session, and I was assigned to Wayne. What I didn't do, though, was follow up with him. So I'm setting up another session with him ASAP. And I recommend you do, too. But be warned: He asks all the tough questions.
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Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1, is available for freelance projects: writing, editing, design or social media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727.637.5586