TSU Alum Carol Smith-Wooden Gives Tips on Starting a Business

Name: Carol Smith-Wooden
Class: May 2012
Occupation: Manager of Supply Chain Major Subcontracts
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Current city of Residence: Dallas, TX

Carol Smith- Wooden is also one of the founders of JC Bartending Academy in Dallas, TX.

1) Why did you choose TSU?

My dream was to venture outside of Detroit, Mi and attend a historically black college who had a solid reputation for Engineering & Technology. Upon visiting TSU during homecoming in my senior year of High School, I was sold.  Not only did the campus welcome me with warm open arms, but the College of Engineering was certainly a step above the rest.

2) Why do you love TSU?

I have visited many other colleges and universities throughout the U.S. as well as attended Purdue University for my master’s degree, yet nothing compares to the spirit of family, the focus on success and the overall vision of TSU. I  love TSU’s support of the community and the mission of providing a quality education to those who are enrolled. Most importantly, I love how TSU equips students with skills required to survive and compete in the world.

 Business Startup Tips

Starting a business is more than just implementing a good idea. It takes time, strategic planning, research, capital and the ability to manage. According to the book E-Myth, many small businesses fail because it started as someone loving their hobby who wanted to monetize it and turn their hobby into a business; later realizing that they were also responsible for marketing, managing customers, managing the financial accounting and still performing the hobby that they love.

I would recommend to anyone who is considering a new business venture, to first think about what type of business fits their personal taste. There are many types of businesses from “brick and mortar” or storefront businesses, to virtual online businesses. There are also product based businesses or service based businesses. Each category or type of business takes a slightly different skill set and a certain amount of resources and capital to start. The next step is to assess the amount of time they currently have to dedicate to the upfront planning and the time it takes to sustain their business. Whether starting a new business from the ground floor or franchising an existing business, it takes hard work and dedication to develop a robust business plan and to execute it properly. Lastly, it is key to protect your personal liabilities, therefore, the legal entity that you choose is critical. The most popular entity is an LLC or Limited Liability Company. It offers the most protection of your personal assets and is the most tax friendly.

Once the business is up and running, sustaining it is where the fun begins. In my experience, great customer service and high product or service quality is a part of the magical formula that will make or break your business. The other part is capital or in other words, cash flow or money. There isn’t a business in the world that didn’t have to spend money to make money. Be sure to budget for the low income producing months where you must still sustain the business’ financial obligations such as utilities, marketing, employees or the website. When starting a business, it is always a good rule of thumb to have at least 12 months of projected operating expenses saved or readily accessible through loans or angel investors. Successful businesses also have an exit strategy.   Know when the market has changed or when it’s time to simply get out of the business. It is never considered a failure to end one business venture and start a new one.
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