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Program offers building blocks to success

Published: June 5, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 5, 2014) -- When starting a small business, the journey to success could be a road that’s hard to travel, but Fort Rucker’s Army Community Service is offering a service to help budding entrepreneurs find their way.

ACS’s Employment Readiness Program is offering small business counseling sessions June 12 at Bldg. 5700 for people who are either interested in starting a small business of their own, or for those who already have a small business but would like to expand their endeavor, said Mike Kozlowski, ACS employment readiness program manager.

“This is something that is for anyone who has any interest in starting their own business, so if someone has an idea that sparks their imagination, they should make an appointment,” he said. “Also, for those businesses that are time-tested, these sessions would be a good way for those people to figure out how to expand their (enterprise).”

Counselors will be coming from Troy University’s Small Business Development Center, so those interested in the sessions should know that their advice and guidance will come from professionals who have experience in the small business world, said Kozlowski.

“People should take the guidance of those who have been successful and that’s what these counseling sessions are,” he said. “People will have the chance to talk with someone who has had experience in setting up and running a small business. This will give people not only the courage to go ahead and go with the idea they have, but to go into it confidently, and that’s key.”

Throughout the session, a counselor will sit with an individual and go over the specifics of how to start a business, such as planning, how to get funding and marketing.

“The counselors will sit down with people, take a look at their business plan, if they have one, and advise them on what their next steps should be,” said Kozlowski. “If they don’t have a business plan, then the counselors will help them formulate a plan of their own.”

After discussing the business plan, people will get to talk about the specifics of their idea and go over whether there is a realistic market for what they want to offer, and discuss what their short- and long-term goals are regarding progression.

They’ll also learn about the amount of work and commitment that goes into owning a small business, and that the first few years of the business are critical.

“Most small businesses fail within two to three years,” said the program manager. “Sometimes people have unrealistic expectations, and sometimes they feel that they can just set their business up and leave it to run itself, and that’s not the case.

“That seems to be a big problem with a lot of the small business startups out there – they have irregular business hours, they don’t have a proper marketing plan and there are a lot of issues with following through,” said Kozlowski. “During the sessions, they’ll get to talk about marketing, how it can affect their business and how it’s necessary for expansion.”

The number of counselors that come depends on the amount of interest people show, and people must sign up so that Troy University has an idea of how many counselors to send. This is to be able to better serve the people of Fort Rucker and make sure that each individual has ample time to talk to each counselor.

“The counselors will sit down and talk to each person about their ideas at length,” said Kozlowski. “They’ll even go into talking about the legal framework of their business, such as whether it’s advisable to set their business up as a limited liability corporation, S corporation or C corporation, which is an important decision for tax purposes.”

Each counseling session is about 30 minutes long and is by appointment only, so people need to make sure to reserve their spots, said the program manager, and people shouldn’t feel intimidated to come.

“There is a part within each blossoming entrepreneur out there that has doubts, but to be successful, you’ve got to believe in what you’ve got to offer and give that idea flight,” said Kozlowski. “These counselors are encouragers. They’ll never take a negative approach to any idea out there, and they’ll give advice and counsel on how to make it work if possible.

“If you don’t try, then you deny the population, in some cases the entire world, of the benefits of the product or service that came up in your mind,” he continued. “If you never put it into action, what good does it do anyone?”

For more information or to make an appointment, call 255-2594.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/127456/

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