Our annual small business issue is a popular one, and a fun issue to produce! Year after year, we enjoy highlighting successful area businesses—those that have made a commitment to the Peoria area, whose leaders give of their time and talents to further its progress.
From century-old pillars of the community to fresh startups just finding their footing, each of them has a unique story. And those stories include not only the anniversaries, awards and milestones, but also the struggles, hardships and concerns. To operate a small business is not easy, no matter what industry you’re in. I think most business owners would agree they would not be where they are today without the help of friends, a willingness to take risks, some good luck and a lot of hard work.
It’s exciting to witness the attention being focused on our region’s entrepreneurs, and we hope to see many new businesses arise in the coming years. But it’s one thing to have a good idea, and something else to transform that idea into a viable enterprise. Sometimes, the initial excitement can give way to discouragement when it comes to operating in the trenches—the nuts and bolts of doing business.
This point was highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, in which a business owner challenged the nation’s business schools and incubators to teach prospective entrepreneurs some basic survival skills. “You’d think that a profit-and-loss forecast would be a bedrock concept for a program teaching people to start their own businesses,” he wrote. “You’d be wrong.
“I’ve mentored graduate students at prestigious universities who couldn’t tell me how they were going to cover things like payroll taxes, workers’ compensation and other basic costs. One had generously given himself a salary of $125,000 in his business plan and was astonished when I sat down with his own projections and showed he’d be lucky to make $50,000 annually. He lacked even the most elementary grasp of the overhead expenses involved in running a business.”
Today’s businesses must grapple with change like never before: the war for talent, generational differences, technological advances, financial concerns, a shifting regulatory environment, and so much more. So as we continue to encourage those innovative ideas, let us not forget to teach the practical skills as well. To go from startup to mainstay requires a balanced mastery of both. iBi