Whether you provide a product or service, promoting your business at festivals is a great way to network with local businesses and network with people from all over the Houston area. For example, if you owned an air conditioning repair service, you could set up a booth, provide business cards and flyers, and conduct short presentations every 15 minutes on how customers can save on their electricity bill.
I discovered that one of my colleagues ventured into the food catering business. He agreed to answer a few questions that might help you get started this summer.
What did you fear the most about starting a small business?
Lack of financial security scared me the most. I know that working for a company 9 to 5 each day provides a certain amount of security. That is not the case when you are an entrepreneur just starting out. Most of your income comes from personal effort and it may not be steady.
What was the first step you took with your business?
I took the steps that were the easiest, and built upon that. After making the initial decision, I purchased the things that I could afford. I researched to determine what I needed to get started, purchased what I could to operate at a minimal level, and grew from there.
What is the most enjoyable part of your business?
I have a food catering business and the most enjoyable part is making people happy with great food.
What advice would you give to someone who wants their own business but doesn’t know where to start?
Learn as much as you can. Make business cards. Tell a few people that you trust of your plans – this will make you more accountable for your actions. Begin to build a client base through networking. Even if you don’t know everything, you will learn along the way or meet people who can help you. You’d be surprised at how many business owners don’t know everything about how their business works. Watch Undercover Boss and you will see.
Who or what inspires you?
One of my greatest inspirations has been through one of my former bosses. She is currently the owner of a small business and had a lot of issues getting that business where it is today. She worked hard every day and believed in herself, which in turn made me believe in her. She never gave up and turned a business that was making little money into a company people want to be associated with.
What is your personal motto?
The best investment you can make is in yourself. Believe in yourself and make a decision to succeed and the rest will fall into place.
Now, go forth and start this summer!
All the best,
Superman Cornelius & Cheerleader Josie
The following are website links to festivals in the Houston area:
The following are website links to resources for small business:
- U.S. Small Business Administration at SBA
- SBA local District Office at Houston SBA
- University of Houston Bauer College Small Business Development Center at UH SBDC
- University of Houston Small Business Development Center Network at UH SBDC Network
- MIT OpenCourseWare Entrepreneurship Courses at MIT
- Open-source entrepreneurship by Steve Blank at Berkeley Blog
- Business Owners’ Idea Cafe
The following are website links that provide inspiration:
- At 100, Still Running for Her Life, by Noah Remnick at The New York Times
- Miyako, by Erez Sitzer (a Facebook video with description)
- Headway, by Louis Boniface
The video illustrates the idea of making an art, out of falling
Josie Toth is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston area. She conducts job search skills seminars throughout the 13 county Gulf Coast region. After serving in the military, Josie utilized Workforce Solutions’ services. Her desire to help people led to an employment counselor position with Workforce Solutions, which she held for four years, until she found her niche as a Regional Facilitator.
Cornelius Booker is a senior member of the Regional Navigator team and a graduate of Oklahoma State University where he received his Bachelors in Marketing and later received his M.B.A with a focus on Business Marketing and Management. With his personal experience and passion for the disabled community, Cornelius’ insights are an invaluable asset to the Workforce Solutions organization.