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The Business Plan

As you probably know, most efforts to start a business end in failure. Fortunately, there are things you can do to guard against wasting time and money and improve your odds.

Michele Chiappetta
September 28, 2018

Have you ever considered being your own boss? If so, you’re not alone. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor estimates around 28 million Americans own their own business. If you’re willing to take the plunge, you can be among the 14 percent of Americans who work for themselves.

Tulsa, it turns out, is an amazing place to be if you’re ready to be your own boss — giving us yet another reason to love the 918. There are approximately 450 new entrepreneurs each month for every 100,000 adults in Oklahoma — which puts our beloved Sooner state second in terms of startup activity among states with smaller populations (only Nevada ranks higher).

And just last year, CNBC gave Tulsa the nod as the No. 4 best city to start a business. Pretty cool, especially if you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.

Taking a bold business step
When you think about how many cities the U.S. contains, Tulsa’s making the top five list for startups is impressive. But when you think about why our fair city is such a great place to launch a startup, it’s not hard to see the reasons. The low cost of living here compared to other cities, and the supportive environment that exists in Green Country for small businesses, makes the bold move of launching a business easy to embrace.

And believe me, it does take boldness. I should know. Just over a year ago, I finally made a leap I’d been contemplating on and off, and talking myself into and out of, since 2010. Yes, I launched my own freelance writing and editing business full-time, after years of doing it as a side gig.

Let me tell you, starting a business is a lot like getting married or having children. You can ready yourself to some degree for the challenges, but nothing will ever fully prepare you to handle it. A lot of it, you just have to jump into, start paddling, and hope you swim instead of sink.

Still, you don’t have to go in blind. You can get support and keep learning every day. There are a lot of ways you can equip yourself and your business to succeed. With guidance along the way, planning ahead and making smart decisions, you have a good shot at making it past the five-year mark. Over 50 percent of all startups fold before then, so if you last that long, you’ve done well and have an even better chance at making it long-term.

Taking a deep breath … and diving in
The thing is, there are so many questions that can overwhelm a person and make it hard to take the leap into working for yourself. How will I fund my business? Where will I set up shop? When should I hire employees? How will I get health care? Will I be able to handle the self-employment taxes? Can I be sure I’ll succeed — and what will I do if I don’t?

These are all real, legitimate, important questions to tackle. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with deciding that you’d rather work for someone else. I know several people who have solid, sensible reasons for keeping their day jobs. I’ll never argue with that. It’s important to evaluate where you are in life and make the best decision for yourself. Sometimes that means working for someone else. Sometimes it means leaping into a future where you are your own boss. I’ve been both places.

But for those who, like me, have considered taking the plunge into starting a business, then at some point you have to look into the mirror and ask yourself: “If I never try this, will I regret it?” If the answer is yes, then it’s time to plot an exit strategy from your job and an entry path into that dream business you’ve always wanted to own.

And here’s the best news — you don’t have to do it all yourself. On the journey to small business success, there’s actually a lot of help available, if you’ll just reach out and take it.

Finding the help needed to succeed
In the end, finding help and offering help is what this column is all about. Even though I’ve been in business about a year, I still have so much to learn. Like a lot of people, I procrastinate. I have challenges staying focused. I worry. I am not what you’d call a natural at networking, or at social media, for that matter.

So, for the next year, I’m going to be stretching myself and discovering all that Tulsa has to offer for entrepreneurs. I’ll be digging into how to network smartly, what funding is out there for new businesses, tips for managing taxes, co-working spaces and how they rate, finding health insurance, and a ton more questions that a new business owner has to tackle. And I’ll be sharing it all with you, so you can be better prepared if you want to run your own business.

Let the girl boss journey begin.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for what I should investigate over the next several months in terms of entrepreneurship in Tulsa. Feel free to message your ideas to Preview 918 on Facebook (which I can see anytime), or email me, or share ideas on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #lovethe918 or #tulsasmallbusiness.