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Things Entrepreneurs Need to Make It

Monday, October 1, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ester Venouziou
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Class notes, Week 2

The second class at the St. Petersburg Chamber's fall 2012 Entrepreneurship Academy focused on things entrepreneurs need to do before starting a business. And the key word here is research. Research market trends, buying trends, location, logistics and more. The two speakers drove home that message and offered several free resources available to us all. 

Pauline Brockman
Senior customer insight analyst at the Tampa Bay Times, where she has been for the past 35 years. Her job is to monitor market trends, consumer buying behavior and readership of the Tampa Bay Times brands.

Things to consider, Brockman says, are:

  • What does the market look like?
  • What's my product?
  • Who is the competition?
  • Who is the target consumer and where is he/she?
  • Where to locate the business?

Research options:

  • Reference USA
  • Demographics Now -- available at the libraries. Check your local branch for workshops on how to best use their resources.
  • Consumer Insight by ZIP code -- free through the Tampa Bay Times
  • Traffic Pattern Maps -- free through the County Planning Department

Wayne Brass
Pinellas County area manager for the Small Business Assistance Center at the University of South Florida.

"Seventy-five to 80 percent of small businesses will fail in the first two years because they don't have a business plan, CPA or lawyer," Wayne says. The CPA and lawyer part are self-explanatory. Remind yourself: "I alone cannot make my business work," Wayne says. "But I'll hire people who are smarter than me."

A business plan is a MUST if you're going to be seeking a business loan. But even if you have no need or interest for a loan, it's important to develop a business plan so you can stay focused and increase your chance for success.

The plan needs to address this basic question: "Why would I want to do business with you?"

Other things to consider:

  • The Concept: Who are your competitors? Don't say you don't have any. Every business has competition, and you need to identify them and figure out what makes you unique or better.
  • Research analysis: Learn more by joining trade associations and testing the market by first doing vendor events, trade shows, or online sales. Find someone in a similar business but a different region and ask for advice. Entrepreneurs want to help other entrepreneurs, as long as they don't see them as competition.
  • Market analysis: Who is your target customer? Where is he/she? Don't locate your business close to home because that's easiest for you. Locate it where your target consumer lives and works.
  • Competitive analysis: Study the competition. Check everything from its market and location to promotional strategies and selling techniques.  Find their strengths and duplicate them. Pinpoint their weaknesses and attack them -- not by finger-pointing, but by doing it better.
  • Feasibility analysis: Determine the market size and your fair share of it. Is there room for you?
  • Promotions and Branding: Create one brand identifier and include it in all your materials. When choosing your name, remember to look at the initials, too. You'll want to protect your brand. A trademark can cost between $1,000 to $3,000. A patent? $10,000 to $30,000!

Important websites


Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1, is taking the St. Petersburg Chamber's 2012 Entrepreneurship Academy and blogging about the classes.  She can be reached at or 727.637.5586