What you need to start a small business

Four things experts say you should have in place
Posted at 8:20 AM, Jul 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-11 19:46:58-04

For people unhappy in the jobs they have now, there are some who are ready to branch out on their own.

Logan Runnels believes you need a little pep to run a small business, and she's got plenty of that. For her and her father, the decision to open a store front in Safety Harbor for their small coffee shop, Cafe Vino Tinto.

"It's just getting everything lined up and pulling the trigger," Logan said.

Her father took a hit in the real estate market during the recession, and started thinking about starting a small business. They purchased their own coffee farm in Costa Rica years ago and slowly started to grow.

"I've already gotten beaten up and thrown under the bus and climbed back up," Kent Runnells said.

The pair started gathering a following roasting their own coffee beans on a cart for Third Fridays in Safety Harbor. Soon, customers were encouraging them to open a store front.

But it can be very challenging to start a small business. ABC Action News is committed to helping Tampa Bay area workers escape low pay, bad benefits and unfulfilling careers. So we went to SMARTStart Pasco, a small business incubation program, to see what small business owners should have in place before deciding to launch.




"Statistically, about 20 percent of businesses will not make it past the first five years," said Krista Covey, program director of SMARTStart Pasco Business Incubators.

Covey said the first thing you should have is a thought-out business plan, including a breakdown of your costs, customer base and demand for the product.

She also recommends that your own personal finances are in as good a shape as possible, and that you have enough capital to get through that tough first year.

She also recommends lining up thehelp of places like SCORE, an organization where experts can help you develop a business plan, price out costs, assess your customer demand for your product and apply for loans and even micro-loans. Many of the services are completely free.

There are also small business seminars available, as well as one-on-one mentoring.

"if you can think through the business before investing whatever savings you have, that's more valuable," Covey said.

It's something Andy Lehrer, a Tampa small business owner, knows all to well. His business, Maximum Audio Video, launched in 1982, starting with just one van that made house calls. Now, it's store front on Dale Mabry Highway is expanding and he employs dozens of people.

"I see so many businesses that within a year close their doors," Lehrer said.

He says carefully calculating your costs is his personal advice for new business owners.

"Someone really has to come up with a good business plan to not go in to lose," he said.