It takes more than just a good idea to be a successful entrepreneur. While an idea can spark the genesis of the next great business, the road to success is littered with obstacles that will test one’s resiliency, perseverance and drive.
“You really have to have thick skin to [be an entrepreneur],” says Daniel Ballerini, owner of Moorestown-based Residential Rental Homes. “When I was getting started, no one took me seriously. I must have reached out to more than 100 lenders and got the door slammed on me every time. Over and over again I heard so many ‘No’s,’ but it took just one ‘Yes,’ and that first lender ended up producing more than $6 million worth of loans for me for properties worth more than $10 million.”
That first “yes” was a huge part of Ballerini growing Residential Rental Homes, which started with the purchase of a three-unit triplex in 2012, and today boasts a rental portfolio value of roughly $20 million, generating roughly $145,000 per month in gross rent across more than 100 units.
Of course, it is important for entrepreneurs to understand that they will also need help along the way. That help can come from a variety of sources, ranging from mentors and network connections, to assistance from outside resources such as, for example, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC).
“Though today’s economic landscape may be unique, the fundamentals of doing business haven’t changed,” says Kelly Brozyna, NJSBDC network chief executive officer and state director. “Our business owners just need assistance with tools and training to help them overcome today’s challenges. The businesses are the ones that make the magic happen. They need our support, and we’re honored to be in the position to provide the much-needed resources for them.”
Below, we take a look at a few key considerations that entrepreneurs should be aware of when embarking on their journey to grow a successful business of their own.
One common mentality for entrepreneurs is the hesitancy to delegate and give up control.
“You feel like the business is your baby and no one is going to care as much about it as you do,” Ballerini says.
The reality is, there isn’t enough time in the day for a business owner to do everything on their own. Eventually, they will need to delegate tasks.
“The best way to combat the hesitancy to give up control is to produce systems and processes that are clearly explained and documented. Make sure there is accountability for each function and task, and clearly lay out your expectations,” Ballerini explains. “Systems and processes is how you go from a one-person-show to an actual business where you are responsible for other people who depend on you for their income.”
No matter what, the journey of an entrepreneur is difficult, and you have to be able to withstand failure and rejection. It is those who stick with it and believe in themselves that find success.
“So many people just give up. There were times when I didn’t know how I was going to pay the bills for the month, but then something would come through,” says Kenneth Rekuc, owner of Bergen-based One Call Contracting. “I’d think, ‘Maybe I should just go get a real job,’ but I just didn’t want to do that. I wanted to [make a living] on my own.”
“You have to celebrate the successes and be prepared for the failures,” Ballerini adds. “You are going to have a lot of failures. Not one or two, you are going to have hundreds of things that don’t go perfectly. There is no perfectionism in business, but there is ‘good enough.’ If things are going ‘good enough,’ then you can use that as a building block everyday to move towards where you want to go.”
When entrepreneurs are starting out, they likely do not have the money to support a big team.
Ballerini says it is vital to connect with the right people and have a network of relationships lined up before you even get started. This includes key business contacts like an accountant, attorney and lender, but also mentors such as industry veterans and other business owners.
“If you try to do it all by yourself, there is no way. You need the support of the people who have been there before and the people who are going to help you through it, especially when you are getting started,” he says.
“We were always taught that if you do good, one person will tell seven others, and those seven will tell seven more,” says Rekuc, of One Call Contracting. As his company’s name suggests, Rekuc says that there is tremendous power in simply picking up the phone.
“When the pandemic hit, I contacted the Small Business Administration (SBA) and was able to secure an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and two Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, which have both been forgiven,” he says. “Don’t stop being on the phone.”
Fortunately for entrepreneurs, there is a bevy of outside resources at their disposal to help during all stages of their businesses’ development.
For example, the NJSBDC Capital Team was designed to enhance an entrepreneur’s access to funding. The team focuses on financial sources, understanding the newest guidelines regarding the business community, and increasing efficiency during the application process.
“The creation of the Capital Team stemmed from listening to small businesses. We at NJSBDC want to be part of the solution assisting entrepreneurs with the much sought-after capital to sustain and grow their business in the state,” Brozyna says.
Additionally, the SBA offers a comprehensive library of resources ranging from planning a business concept to launching, managing and growing a business. “This library of written material is divided into easy-to-follow sections, which will guide the prospective business owner through the steps necessary to start and manage a successful business,” says Kyle McGonigle, senior vice president, commercial banking at Univest Bank and Trust Co.
He adds that business owners would benefit greatly from developing a relationship with a local bank to help navigate the requirements and processes for securing funding from organizations such as the SBA.
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