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Learning Center Experience
By Crystal Gifford, Full-Time Faculty, Kaplan University School of Business Published February 2014
Every year new businesses are started in the U.S. A
growing trend is in the start of businesses among those of the traditional
retirement age (Matthews, 2014). In fact, SBA.gov reports that entrepreneurship
is the heart of America and recent White house efforts called “Start Up
America” have been implemented in order to encourage entrepreneurship for the
very reason that more jobs are created with small businesses than any other
type of employment. Programs such as
these enable more aspiring entrepreneurs to get support building their dreams
(SBA.gov). At the same time, more than 25
percent of these start-up businesses fail in the first year and 50 percent within
3 years, with only 35 percent making it to 10 years (Dickie, 2014).
One of the biggest assets of a business, the
entrepreneurial passion, can also be its biggest downfall. Often, businesses are started based on a life
journey of the entrepreneur who then ties into the business his or her personal
passion, identity, and even livelihood.
Yet when these businesses fail, they often take with them the life savings
of those who had the dream that was so real they funded it with all they
had. Proper management of wealth would
encourage one to protect savings and invest in “safe” investments with good
returns, but how can an aspiring entrepreneur balance the need for safe returns
with the desire to build something bigger that makes the impact on the world
they desire to make?
One of the most critical elements in planning for
success in business, especially a business in which an entrepreneur is going to
involve his or her life savings, is to begin with the end in mind. When planning a business, it is critical to
plan where the business is going, and just like traditional financial planning,
there must be a structure and plan in place that allows the business owner to
eventually be free of the operations and move into a phase known as
retirement. For the purpose of this
paper, “retirement” is a state of leaving the process of work and continuing to
have financial prosperity irrespective of activity in the business, age, or
number of years served.
Experts such as Peters (2009) share the importance
of and strategies for creating effective exit plans for entrepreneurs. When creating a business, is it important to
consider the overall purpose of the business.
While passion has its place in creation of a business, without proper profitability,
cash flow, and strategic planning, the passion will quickly fizzle as the bills
pour in with no working capital to pay them. Keeping a dream alive requires a
clear plan for funding that dream.
With the frequent failures due to cash flow issues
in business, it would behoove the aspiring entrepreneur to know precisely where
he or she wants to go with the business long before the first dollar is
spent. Protection of long-term wealth,
including that of well-being, happiness level, and lifestyle desires, should be
an integral part of the business planning process. While entrepreneurs should not expect to earn
personal income from their businesses for the first 3 to 5 years, they should
be planning how they will eventually receive financial gain from their efforts. Also it is important to consider the cash
flow needs of the entrepreneur while the business grows in the first 3 to 5 years. Additionally, it is necessary to know if the
business will require any of the entrepreneur’s personal resources during this
period. This will allow the new business owner to avoid surprises that are
devastating to themselves personally or to the business vision.
When planning a business, dream, vision, and goals
are a vital part of this plan. However, an exit strategy must also be present
so the entrepreneur can eventually reach a state of longevity from the business
when he or she no longer desires or is no longer able to continue being
actively involved in the business. Seeking the proper counsel and experts to
help with the overall planning could eliminate the common mistake of investing
with passion and losing one’s life savings to a dream that becomes a
nightmare. At the end of the day, a
business is meant to create profits, and this is part of keeping the dream
(2014) “The Start Up Environment
Is My Favorite Place to Make a Living—here’s How to Succeed In It”. FoxNews.com.
Retrieved 01/08/2014 from http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/01/02/start-your-own-business-follow-your-dream-in-2014/
Matthews, Steve (2014). Many Are Shunning Retirement for Start
Ups. Retrieved 01/08/2014 from http://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba_initiatives/startup_america/about_startup_america
Peters, Basil. (2009) “Early Exits:
Exit Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors (but Maybe Not Venture Capitalists”. MeteorBytes Data Management
Corp. ISBN 0981185517
Start Up America:
Empowering America’s Entrepreneurs.
Retrieved 01/08/2014 from: http://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba_initiatives/startup_america/about_startup_america
Gifford is a full-time faculty member at Kaplan
University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author
and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
By Cynthia Waddell, PhD, CPA, CFE
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