Editor’s note: This story was originally published by Missouri Business Alert, a member of the KC Media Collective, which also includes Startland News, KCUR 89.3, American Public Square, Kansas City PBS/Flatland, and The Kansas City Beacon.
Click here to read the original story.
While there are lots of important skills and knowledge to have when starting a business for the first time, one stands out to Daniel Smith — tenacity.
“Having a never-give-up attitude, that stuff matters more than you really think,” Smith said. “Because there’s going to be a lot of challenges that you face as an entrepreneur. At the end of the day, you don’t fail until you give up.”
Smith is the co-founder of The Porter House KC, which provides resources and connections to underserved entrepreneurs in the Kansas City area. He spoke with Missouri Business Alert during a live event about the early steps needed to start a business.
Smith emphasized the importance of being intrinsically motivated, researching your target market and finding ways to fund your business without investors or lenders when possible.
Watch Missouri Business Alert’s full interview with Daniel Smith below, then keep reading.
The early stages
Before starting a business, Smith said entrepreneurs should consider what their lifestyle will look like as a business owner. Entrepreneurs have to be personally motivated to keep their business going through their passion for their work, Smith said.
“If you do go out and you become a solo entrepreneur, it’s all on you,” Smith said. “So you have to get up in the morning, you have to make sure that you’re doing the things that’s necessary to grow your business.”
Once entrepreneurs are committed to starting a business, it’s helpful to research a target market to make sure that customers are interested in a product or service. Smith recommended that Main Street businesses not only look at data based on their target market, but also speak with members of the community through pop-up events.
“The community could tell you something totally different than the data,” Smith said.
Once a target market has been established, entrepreneurs will need to find ways to fund their business ventures. Smith said the easiest way to fund the business is by self-funding, then raising money from friends and family if possible.
“Your friends and family are going to help be the catalyst to your eventual growth,” Smith said.
Other sources of financing include loans from banks, bringing in investors or grants.
Many underrepresented founders face barriers to accessing funding, including systematic challenges that make getting loans more difficult and cultural differences that make it harder to secure investments. But, Smith said conversations he’s had with Porter House KC alumni and bankers have helped create more understanding and expanded access to capital for entrepreneurs.
“We got to get to a point where we do that better and get more comfortable having conversations that are not very comfortable to have,” Smith said.
What does success look like?
Once a business has been established, Smith said the criteria for determining a successful business can vary based on the entrepreneur. Some may define success by high growth, hiring employees or just being able to open up every day.
“There’s all kinds of different ways that we can define success,” Smith said. “I think that it’s better for you to actually set some goals as a business owner and try to achieve those goals.”
Emily Hood is an audience development intern at Missouri Business Alert majoring in journalism with an emphasis in social and audience strategy.