The President of Friendly Folks, Inc., Scott Kochman takes time to share his words of advice and encouragement, as well as thoughts on “all things business start-up” in this two-part series with BusinessOpportunity.com’s Entrepreneur Exchange:
How does someone know if they have what it takes to own their own business? Tell us a bit about how you made the decision and why.
During one summer I started a car-detailing business and was making pretty good money and working when I wanted to. That’s when I thought, “I can do this!” Now this might sound silly, but I think in order to run a business you need to be a little selfish. Not in a mean way, but in an “I want to do what I want to” way. I think what people need to understand is that it’s not such a big deal to start a business. Take a drive down the main street in any town, and you’ll notice hundreds and thousands of entrepreneurs who’ve taken a shot. So I think it’s important to know that it’s possible. With BusinessOpportunity.com, I feel that people get a chance to try starting a business without a huge capital investment.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing business owners today and why? Any suggestions for how to address those challenges?
Overstimulation, being scattered, lack of focus and the constant bombardment of information. With the internet, everyone seems to be an expert and there’s SO MUCH information out there that there’s a tendency to freeze and not do anything until it’s perfect. Everyone seems to have a different view, how to approach customers, marketing suggestions, where to advertise, etc. There’s so much business advice out there that it’s actually confusing and intimidating. My suggestion is to get back to the basics. Think like the 1950’s. Find a great product. Stick with it. Find people who want to buy it. Sell it for more than you paid for it. That’s it. Don’t overanalyze everything. Keep it simple. And have fun!!
What is the single strongest piece of advice you would have for someone just starting out in business for themselves?
Make starting a business a learning experience AND a money-making venture. Don’t think of your new business as a job. You’re going to screw up and make some mistakes. That’s normal, and I’m still making them 14 years later. Don’t expect to make a ton of money right from the start. You might, but don’t set out with that intention. Use this opportunity to learn about marketing, learn about sales, learn new technologies and learn about what you like and dislike. Once you start learning, you’ll be able to put that knowledge to use, and then you’ll start noticing the big payoff.
And one more thing...
There’s no “right time” for starting a business. The right time is NOW if you want to do it. Let go of your need to be perfect or trying to figure out when you’ll have enough money and time. I’ve heard people tell me they’re waiting for their kids to go to college, and then they’re going to start a new business. That’s nuts. If you’ve always wanted to be your own boss, then do it right now. If you only have $300 to spend, find something to start for that amount. If you’re lucky enough to have a grand or two, take a look on this site. You’ll find plenty of great businesses ideas that you can start. My point is, just get started. The right time is now!
What would you say is the one thing that new business owners forget about or overlook when they’re just planning/starting out?
They run out of money because they didn’t plan well. For example, if you only have 2K to use for a new business, you better only spend 1K up front. There are many “extras” that you’ll need to spend on, like advertising, business cards, display materials, cell phone bills, entry fees (for craft or trade shows), networking groups, consulting (if necessary), a credit card machine, fees or licenses, a new suit and shoes, etc. In other words, don’t plunk down the whole 2K for products and then have nothing left to invest and grow your business.
What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?
I know this sounds goofy but I always get a kick in the pants when someone looks at our product. It’s personalized and when their name is there, front and center, well, they just smile from ear to ear. That smile makes me think I’m in the right business.
About Scott: A NJ native son and having attended music school at Syracuse given his passion for the trumpet, Scott Kochman always figured he’d wind up a symphony musician. However, that duel major in business along with his entrepreneurial spirit won out when he started a personalized keepsakes and music production company more than 14 years ago. Today, Friendly Folks, Inc. is one of the most respected companies of its kind in the industry and still growing strong!
This is the first of a two-part series. Join us for our next Entrepreneur Exchange with Scott Kochman where he’ll share more with us about what sales/marketing and business management techniques he finds work best, as well as what words inspire him most.