Many dream of starting a business, but jumping outside the safety net of traditional employment can be terrifying. A good way to begin the jump is listening to entrepreneurs who have already done so. Larry Williams Jr., president of both Rowley Security and Indy Black Chamber, and Mario Zamora, Mexican immigrant turned co-founder and co-owner of Hermoza Home Beautification, offer tips for aspiring business owners.
Know your industry
Zamora embraced digital resources right from the start. He launched his business on NextDoor, a neighborhood oriented social media platform, and continues using a variety of online resources like Facebook Marketplace to reach customers. In addition to marketing, Zamora used the internet to learn lessons such as how to price jobs. Painting Business Pro, an online educational resource specifically for painting company owners, was so helpful that Zamora recommends entrepreneurs look for online resources specialized to their industry.
“[Aspiring business owners] can learn a lot on YouTube,” Zamora said. “There’s a lot of videos of all kinds of businesses of people that are successful, and they give you advice on how to be successful, how to quote for things, how to manage whatever company they are trying to run. The internet is a great resource.”
Chambers of commerce, organizations that support the business community, such as Indy Black Chamber and Indiana Chamber of Commerce, provide mentoring, workshops and networking opportunities for aspiring business owners. They can also help entrepreneurs navigate regulations, applicable taxes, necessary licenses and antitrust laws, Williams said.
Williams urges entrepreneurs to go into business with knowledge and experience. They need to actually spend time in their field in order to understand it. People hoping to start a business in their industry pay attention and learn not only about the industry but also where it’s going.
“All industries are changing” Williams said. “Everything is going toward tech, so you need to understand your industry is and where it’s going for the future. You can’t just plan for today. You have to plan for the future and get out in front of it.”
Once prospective entrepreneurs master their field, their learning is not done. They should continue to learn as a business owner. For example, this year Zamora started paying employees a percentage of each job instead of hourly. Observing how employees acted differently under the two models taught him a valuable lesson about motivating workers.
“The guys are more responsible,” Zamora said. “They know that if something goes wrong, if they don’t do the job right they have to go back and fix whatever thy have to fix or no pay. So they are more careful. They take their time. They get stuff done right.”
Don’t Do It Alone
Relying on friends, family and other professionals does not make you a lesser business owner. It makes you a smarter one. For example, Kathy Zamora, Zamora’s wife and business partner, was crucial to creating Hermoza Home Beautification.
“I was lucky that at the time my wife was working, and she was making really, really good money, and she supported me, so I didn’t have to worry much about paying the mortgage and stuff like that,” Zamora said. “She helped me a lot at the beginning.”
In addition to friends and family, Williams strongly recommends business owners find a mentor. The best mentors are from the same field as the entrepreneurs, so they can share experience.
“Running a small business is hard, so you need to have a support system because it’s like a roller coaster.” Williams said. “It goes up and down, so you always need somebody in your ear that keeps you going.”
Williams’ mentors are his mother, Anita Williams, and his uncle, Richard Rowley. While they don’t have security backgrounds, both have great business experience that has been invaluable for Williams. For example, as a business lawyer, Rowley taught Williams lessons such as how to structure a business.
Pull The Trigger
All the business tips in the world are valueless to someone who doesn’t use them. Business ownership can be frightening, but with proper planning, patience and a good group of people it is a possibility.
“Just be positive and keep moving forward,” Zamora said. “You’re going to make many mistakes. It’s ok. It’s part of learning. … Just don’t be afraid. Jump in the water.”
Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.