Bob Thiele remembers one proposal in particular from about two years ago. Someone wanted to start a daycare center specifically for 3 year olds and younger. Why? Because they wanted to work only with toddlers.
After some research, Thiele sat them down and explained why it wouldn’t work. As it turns out, daycare centers without 4-year-olds tend not to survive because the number of caretakers needed to watch over a group of toddlers is so large, it quickly becomes cost-prohibitive. Children 4 years and older need less supervision and require fewer caretakers, usually making them the profit center of any successful daycare operation.
It was just another example where a person interested in starting a business had an idea but not much else.
“Too many people jump into business without really taking a look at who they are, what they have to offer and is there really a market for the products or services out there,” said Thiele, a business consultant in the Georgia Small Business Development Center Network’s Decatur office.
Most budding entrepreneurs see themselves as cliff divers – but in a good way. They walk to the ledge, he said, and they leap, majestically soaring through the air.
“In reality you push off, and you’re airborne, and you look down at the water and you wonder how deep it is and think, ‘Gee, is this for me?’” he said.
Thiele’s organization is a division of the University of Georgia. The school’s Cooperative Extension is sponsoring a free seminar titled “Is Entrepreneurship for You?” on March 3. Thiele said the seminar will cover everything prospective entrepreneurs should consider before sinking their own cash or energy into a business idea.
One of the first things eager businesspeople should consider is their own motivations, Thiele said. Too often they’re fueling their own ambitions for the wrong reasons.
“A lot of them want to make a lot of money,” he said. “If that’s your only reason for getting into business, and you’re doing something you don’t like, you’re pretty well going to burn out on it.”
And what about wanting to be your own boss, that oft-told standard for starting your own company? Bad reason, Thiele said.
“You’re not really your own boss because you answer to your stockholders or your customers,” he said.
Thiele is one of a group of consultants in the organization, all of whom have MBAs and arrived at the center following full careers in outside industries – not academia, Thiele said. He said he spent about 40 years in leadership positions overseeing product design and development. He carries two engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Pittsburgh. He said he also studied at Harvard University.
The statewide network has helped its businesses thrive in a down economy, Thiele said. He cited a study showing that statewide sales were down about 1.5 percent in 2007-08. But at companies that sought out the network in that year, sales were up about 15 percent. Each consultant in the organization sees up to 100 clients per year, he said.
The seminar is a chance to expand that outreach. He said he wants to help people develop a sound business plan.
“For the most part, (new entrepreneurs have) thought of parts and pieces of it, but not the whole thing,” he said.
Thinking of starting a business?
The University of Georgia’s DeKalb County Extension is sponsoring a free seminar titled “Is Entrepreneurship for You?” It will be run by Bob Thiele, a business consultant with the school’s Small Business Development Center Network.
WHEN: March 3 from 6 to 7 p.m.
WHERE: The extension’s office, 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur
PRE-REGISTER: Call (404) 298-4080