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The following article was written by Coleman Patterson and appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.

Some businesses require more start-up time and effort than others, July 28, 2006, 7D.

Most people typically look at a variety of homes before choosing one to buy.  With each home visited in the search process, potential buyers evaluate the condition of the house and assess how much work will be required to make it ready to live in.  Some houses might require maintenance, redecorating, or remodeling while others might be in “ready to move into” condition and require minimal work for the homebuyer.   The amount of work required to make a new house “livable” for the buyer is dependent upon the needs, wants, and interests of the buyer and the characteristics of the home.  Some houses are easy to move into and others require some work. 

The same notions hold true for starting a business—some are neat, clean, and easy to start while others require considerable work and preparation to make them ready.  Businesses exist to exchange goods and services for resources with those outside the organization.  Anything that is wanted or needed by people in a society can be the source of a business venture.  There are several options available to people wanting to start and run their own business—each with different degrees of work required to get it up and running.

One option is to start your own business from scratch.  The advantages to this method include being able to build and shape the venture from the ground floor up with total freedom and control.  Building from nothing is also the biggest challenge for business people choosing this method.  Without a stream of customers or proven method or model of success, entrepreneurs starting from scratch face tremendous uncertainty and risk.  The amount of work required to build a business from scratch can be considerable.

Another option is to buy an existing business or buy into a business system.  Purchasing an existing business could be an advantage because it might have a record of successful operation and a favorable reputation with customers, suppliers, and people in the community.  It is also possible to inherit a poor business reputation from previous owners. 

Franchising and business opportunities are two other methods of buying into proven business systems.  Some of these options come with complete “turn-key” solutions—where new business owners need little more than to open their doors for business.  Having proven sales and marketing systems and providing new business owners with all of the things needed to start and maintain the business make these options very attractive to many people.

Before choosing to start a business, prospective entrepreneurs should thoroughly investigate their options and research the costs and investments associated with various alternatives.  Many sources of information exist for people who need help assessing business ideas and opportunities.   Aspiring entrepreneurs can find books, websites, and college courses dedicated to entrepreneurship and small business.  The government also provides a wealth of information to citizens through the U.S. Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov), local Small Business Development Centers (including one in Abilene), and related agencies and programs.  For more information about resources and issues to consider before starting a business, visit the HSU SIFE website at www.hsusife.com.

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2006, 2007, 2008  Coleman Patterson, All Rights Reserved