When Angelica Crystal of Joliet decided to turn her art group into an art business, she turned to the Joliet Latino Economic Development Association (LEDA) for guidance.
Crystal is multifaceted in her art and goals, so she said her main challenge for Wayward Art House was narrowing down her focus. But she also needed practical help, such as how to file for an LLC and if she needed any licenses, Crystal said.
She also said that participating in community events connects people who share resources and common interests.
“You see where the demand is [for your product] It could be,” Crystal said.
Alex Paramo, president of LEDA, said organizations like LEDA help people avoid having to deal with different agencies to gather information by being a resource for that information.
“I think it’s important to have good access to information with Angelica or anyone else who wants to start a new venture or a new business opportunity,” Paramo said. “People may not know where to turn when they want to start something new.”
So before hanging up that “open for business” sign, Paramo suggests that business owners do these five things.
1. Write a basic business plan. Paramo says a basic business plan forces people to think about what kind of service or product they want to market and who their customers are.
“Thinking that way helps you know whether or not what you have in mind is feasible,” says Paramo.
2. Sit down with a representative from an organization like LEDA Determine the company and its legal structure, what licenses (if any) may be required and even what the tax burden will be.
“Coming into our office and talking to our staff, letting one of us know about your business goals and vision will help us come back with some valuable information,” Paramo said.
3. Rethink that stellar marketing plan. Paramo sometimes has a marketing plan that works so well and attracts so many customers that the business gets busy quickly. It may be better to grow slowly.
“If you don’t serve them well, it doesn’t reflect well on the business,” Paramo said.
4. Try the product or service To gauge your viability and ability to finance before taking a big loan.
“If you’ve spent 15 years in accounting, you probably don’t want to start your own restaurant,” Paramo said.
5. Have well-defined goals. Do you want your business to be known for great customer service, making customers feel right at home? Or do you want everyone to know about your product?
“Some business owners want to be the best on their block; some want to be the best in the country,” Paramo said. It all depends on their goals and motivations.
Unfortunately, there is no “magic formula” that guarantees business success, Paramo said. But he feels that building on his strengths, along with a lot of persistence and drive, will help lay a good foundation.