This past Tuesday the Department of Career Services held a seminar on “How to Develop and Start a Business.” The event was held in Grambling Hall and started promptly at 11:30 a.m.
Business consultant and ULM graduate Christina Davis of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center was the speaker. Davis, one of only three consultants in the area, has had over ten years of experience in business management and entrepreneurship. Responsible for helping the start-up and growth of businesses, she renders services to ten different centers throughout the state and 14 parishes.
The LSBDC is the only nationally accredited small business provider in the state and renders services such as free one -on- one counseling, low cost continuing education, and management/ technical assistance. The seminar touched on basic questions you should ask yourself before going into business: What skills do you possess? Can you handle the pressure? What are your personal and business goals? Can you live with the uncertainty? After you pinpoint what kind of business you would like to start, next is acquiring funding. Davis emphasized the importance of investing in yourself first. Investors take more interest in helping to fund someone who already has a descriptive layout of their business and believes in themselves and their brand. Be mindful to keep everything organized, professional and surround yourself with likeminded people.
Once acquiring a business, as a precautionary measure you should rent not buy. Check for zoning and licensing requirements as well as federal, state, and local regulations. Develop an extensive financial plan and include: operating expenses, utilities, advertising, furniture, permits, rent etc. Next, up a price list for all the services you offer. Be mindful of the competition but never negotiate pricing. Davis stressed “Never fight with price, fight with quality.” After the presentation the students were asked to form small groups and brainstorm about a startup business. They were to use the guidelines that were discussed in the seminar to construct a concrete idea that was later presented to their peers. Students generated great ideas and thoroughly enjoyed this exercise. Director of Career Services and Professional Development, Sheila Fobbs, was utterly thrilled with the interactive seminar and plans to bring several opportunities for preparing students for the work field to the University. Upon asking Davis what was a life changing piece of advice she lived by, she quoted something her father mentioned that stuck with her over the years. “Always do more than what is expected of you.”