Dora Ann Hatch, Van Osdell, Mary Ann | 7/24/2007 1:44:00 AM
The LSU AgCenter is offering educational programs to help people make informed decisions about whether to go into business.
"Starting a small business is always risky, and the chance of success is slim," said Dora Ann Hatch, community rural development agent. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, roughly 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years.
"That is why the LSU AgCenter and its teaching partners have teamed together to offer workshops to provide information to help aspiring entrepreneurs," she said.
The LSU AgCenter has partnered with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at LSU Shreveport to provide entrepreneurship training and with the Louisiana Business and Technology Center/LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business Mobile Unit, which is touring the state to help increase the number of entrepreneurs.
As a community rural development agent, Hatch spends the majority of her time in the areas of entrepreneurship and leadership development. She recently provided workshops in Homer, Arcadia and Minden on how to start a small business.
The workshops have provided 80 individuals with information to make decisions about going into business. Those in Arcadia and Minden were held in the LSU Mobile Unit.
They explored these questions:
Do I have what it takes to start a business?
How can I find business ideas?
When do I know that I’m ready to start a business?
What types of businesses can I start from home?
Is there a market for my product or service?
What small business resources are available?
What licenses do I need to operate my business legally?
How do I fund my small business?
Peggy Connor of SBDC and Hatch conducted the Homer workshop with sponsorship from Louisiana Small Business Development Centers, LSU AgCenter, Claiborne Chamber of Commerce, Claiborne Electric Cooperative Inc. and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
SBDC later counseled people who had attended the "How to Start Your Own Business" class at the LSU AgCenter’s Hill Farm Research Station in Homer.
In response to questions raised at the workshops, the LSU AgCenter hosted a meeting in March on "Tax Credits and Incentives for Employers." Presenters included a Homer CPA, Steve Koskie and Annette Blake with the Louisiana Department of Labor.
Jane Allison with SBDC explained the benefits of the Small and Emerging Business Development program that assists businesses with entrepreneurial training, legal needs, marketing, computer skills and accounting.
Allison said Hatch's training and enthusiasm have been a great help in making the workshops a success.
"The LSU AgCenter has made the Hill Farm Research Station available for confidential counseling from an SBDC counselor as they need further counseling or want to develop their business plans," Allison said. "We have counseled there one day a month."
The SBDC has received grant funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide this outreach, including marketing and hosting the workshops at no or very low cost, Allison said.
The three partner organizations presented a two-day workshop in Homer in late June to assist people in starting a child care business. Eleven people aspiring to become child care business owners attended. Another 15 people took a 1½-hour class in the LSU Mobile Unit on child care training requirements.
The workshop included information on managing and organizing a child care business, understanding the requirements of opening a child care center, defining child care services, marketing and pricing, and budgeting and expenses.
Participants graduating from the two-day program said that after completing the course, they had a better understanding of the rules and regulations of child care, learned how to open a child care center and learned who their resource people were.
Each workshop concludes with an evaluation. Participants have responded that they had learned how to start a business and that it is important to have a market for a product or service before launching a business, Hatch said.
Hatch encourages other LSU AgCenter agents to call her when they get inquiries about people who want to start a business. Lauribeth Coker, 4-H agent in Bienville Parish, did just that when an Arcadia woman asked about opening a feed and seed store. Hatch called, listened to her needs, made suggestions and followed up by e-mail.
More information is available on the Internet in an online article by Hatch, "Ten Frequently Asked Questions for Small Business Start-ups" at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/community/.