What to Consider Before Starting or Buying a Business, with Paul Wilson, UGA SBDC at GSU
Paul Wilson: [00:00:00] One of the things that I would say off the bat is to really look at what you already possess in terms of knowledge, skill set, your resources, your network, and really kind of analyze and evaluate. Is it the right time for me to pursue something on the business side or do I need to go look for another job because it could be that certain companies are hiring? Because it’s interesting that whenever you have these difficult economic situations, you actually have some businesses that are thriving because they’re able to leverage the environment.
Paul Wilson: [00:00:38] There’s a chemical company I’m familiar with that came to us and said they actually had one of their best years ever, but they happened to sell barrels of alcohol. So, in that case, they’re in a perfect place at the perfect time but, of course, we know that’s not everybody’s situation.
Paul Wilson: [00:00:38] So, analyzing. Do I have a skill sets? Like if you’re a healthcare worker right now, you have healthcare skills. There could be certain things or certain niches of the market where you actually could be doing very well or take advantage of an opportunity for somebody else to say that’s completely disconnected from, really, what’s in demand right now.
Paul Wilson: [00:01:15] So, I think that’s kind of one of the things to say, “Let me just kind of take a personal inventory to say whether or not I have something that’s actually in demand right now or is this something on the decline?” And that’s really done from a personal standpoint but, also, if you put that kind in the business context too. “Am I interested in pursuing a business that is just not growing right now? It is flat.”
Paul Wilson: [00:01:39] So, one of the things that we have access to, which is I think one of the most effective things that we can do for clients is market research. We have a lot of different types of databases. Some of it is national data that can show, let’s say, trends of specific industries, what’s happened over the last five years and what’s projected to happen over the next five years.
Paul Wilson: [00:02:01] So, you come to us with an idea and say, “Hey, I want to sell shoes.” “Okay, great. Let’s see what’s happened across the industry.” And there’s a certain type of thing you want to sell with the shoes or anything, and we can say, “That industry’s actually been in decline over the last five years. Is that really what you want to do right now from that standpoint?” And so, that’s some of the information that you can get, again, for free, only invest a little bit of time, without investing a whole lot of money yet to do something that may be on the decline.
Paul Wilson: [00:02:30] We have other additional information, not just national, that’s very localized. So, we can go to almost any address in the country and find demographic information, find customer behavior information, find other trend information, find who are the other types of businesses that may be your competitors? If you’re trying to start, say, a shoe store – I guess, we’re on shoes right now – a shoe store, we can put an address where the shoe store is going to be. And if we tell you that there’s actually 20 other shoe stores within a five-mile radius of where you want to put that, that may not be where you want to put it. Now, hey, maybe we find another place that has no shoe stores, right?
Paul Wilson: [00:03:09] But that’s the type of analysis that a lot of people skip. And going into the question about the mistake, that’s where a lot of people skip that research step because it’s not fun, it’s not interesting. If you watch and listen to social media, it makes you think entrepreneurship is easy. Just match it with your skillset and just take a risk.
John Ray: [00:03:09] That’s right. That’s right. Follow your passion, right? Yeah.
Paul Wilson: [00:03:33] Right, just follow your passion, that’s all you need to be successful.
John Ray: [00:03:35] That’s right.
Paul Wilson: [00:03:36] But we know that’s not true. So, they missed a step in there and one of the key steps, market research. This is if somebody wants what you’re selling other than your spouse or your mom. And just find out, where’s your market at? And we can help you to do that. And to me, that’s some of the best steps you can take. Again, whether you’re thinking about going in entrepreneurship or even if you’re already in business, you’re trying to figure out what to do next, to me, I think that market research piece is often skipped because, again, it’s not fun, it’s not sexy, if you will, but it’s one of the most important things you can do for, really, moving forward with your business.
Paul Wilson, Jr. Area Director, UGA SBDC
Paul Wilson, Jr. is an innovative and effective entrepreneurial leader with nearly 20 years of experience creating and delivering high caliber consulting and training solutions to large corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and professionals at all levels. He currently leads the UGA Small Business Development Center at Georgia State University where his team provides consulting services, market research, business resources, and educational support to startup, growing, and mature small businesses to help them achieve their short and long-term goals.
He has extensive industry experience that spans leadership roles in supply chain management, supplier diversity, and small business development. His expertise includes strategic planning, organizational development, process improvement, leadership development, government and corporate contracting, and curriculum design and development.
Prior to joining GSU, he had the opportunity to work with several Fortune 500 companies, consult with multiple NFL teams, and teach at a university. He is also a published author, actor, and youth development advocate. He is passionately driven by a strong desire to create a significant impact with under-resourced individuals and communities.
Listen to the complete North Fulton Business Radio interview with Paul here.
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