As the economy improves, a lot of people are thinking about starting new businesses or extending the reach of their current businesses. We probably meet at least ten new entrepreneurs at Kona Impact each month. Some have an old idea with a new twist while others are looking to create a new category of business in Kona online.
We are excited to see this increased level of new businesses in Kona for a few reasons: 1) we love to see people become owners of their own businesses. This is where wealth and jobs are created, 2) new businesses expand the range of products and services available in our rather isolated island in the Pacific, and 3) Small businesses are what keep Kona Impact alive!
After working with hundreds of small businesses in Hawaii, we have learned a lot about what an entrepreneur needs to do in order to succeed. Here are five:
- Get honest and direct feedback about your idea from people other than your family or friends. If you have an idea that is something we don’t have in Kona, you might be able to create a new category and do very well. That said, there might be very good reasons why nobody has done what you want to do before. You might be a genius, or you might be foolish. If others have failed at what you want to do, how will you be different? Do a lot of market research!
- Make a business plan. I highly recommend that new entrepreneurs contact the Small Business Development Center, a free and unbiased resource for business planning with offices in Kailua-Kona and Hilo. A few months of planning might save you years of wasted money and effort.
- Get a good grasp of business law and accounting. Read at least one book on business law and one on business accounting. It’s not the most enjoyable way to spend a weekend, but you’ll be glad you understand the basics of contracts, employment law, incorporation, debits, credits, and the reporting laws for Hawaii and the IRS. You can do a lot yourself, but if you’re uncertain seek out an attorney and an accountant.
- Immerse yourself in the business community. Join the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters, a business networking group, or a service group like Rotary. The connections you make in these groups will provide invaluable support, mentoring, and, perhaps, your first customers.
- Be prepared to go “all in”. By this, I mean that you need to devote a huge amount of energy to your business, and that time has to come from your current schedule. When you see cars parked outside of office buildings on Saturday mornings, those are likely to be the business owners. Likewise, the first car in the lot and the last one to leave is usually the owner. Be prepared to give up time doing hobbies, working in your garden, or on your car. Say goodbye to hanging out as much as you do now: successful entrepreneurship requires work, a lot of work. If you’re not up for these sacrifices, you might not want to begin.
There is nothing we enjoy more at Kona Impact than seeing someone take a great idea and make a business that supports his or her family.