I’m about 42.75% ready to start a business according to the Smart Start Assessment tool provided by the Maryland Small Business Development Center’s website. It’s a great resource for anyone interested in starting a small business and I’m thrilled that something like this is available. I took this assessment a few weeks ago, let’s see how I did…
The test asks a series of yes or no questions and at the end it breaks your score into four sections. Here’s how I faired in each:
Section I. General – 61% This section measures your overall preparedness along with your personality traits, seeing if you have what it takes to be successful. I don’t think I’ll ever make 100% in this category because some of my personality traits don’t match up perfectly with those that this organization views as important for every entrepreneur to have. But I think, once I get a bit further along in my process, I’ll be able to bring this score up a bit.
Section II. Marketing – 42% In this section you’ll find questions like, “Do you know who your competitors are?” or “Have you ever WRITTEN a marketing plan?”. I’ve done some research into the local competitors in my area, as well as the national folks like Best Buy’s Geek Squad and Ciruit City’s Firedog. I’m still working on a marketing plan, but I do expect to do most of my initial marketing via word-of-mouth and “geurilla marketing” techniques such as placing flyers in strategic places and passing around a business card at parties. Hopefully, with more research and a more solid markeing plan, my score in this section will improve. Also, the SBDC offers a free course in marketing for small business owners that I will be sure to check out.
Section III. Financial & Operational – 57% Because of the initial self-sufficient funding strategy I have for my business, alot of this section is taken care of. Also, since I have very little inventory and equipment, I’m able to avoid alot of the typical financial worries faced by start-ups. I still need to do some research on taxes to make sure I’m appeasing Uncle Sam, but overall I’m on my way to getting this area figured out.
Section IV. Legal & Organizational – 11% And here is where I fail miserably! I scored low on this because I have no idea what licenses and permits I need, what business laws I need to obey, insurace, contracs, etc. etc. I already discussed how expensive a lawyer can be, and LegalZoom wont be able to help me with most of this stuff. I’ll attempt to get as much informaiton as I can about all of this on my own, via websites and visits to the local library, but there may come a time when I will need to get a real-life warm-bodied lawyer on my side.
So what does that mean to me? Well, it means that I have a long way to go before I’m ready to start a full-time business, but it also tells me that I’m on the right track. I think I’m doing pretty well considering I’m still in the planning stages of my business development. The best thing about this tool is that, based on your weaknesses in the test, it gives you loads of resources at the end of the exam. It’s a bit overwhelming actually. There’s so much to learn, but I’m up for the challenge!
This tool can be used by anyone, whether you live in Maryland or not, as the questions are very generic. Although many of the resources they present to you at the end are more Maryland specific.
I’m going to periodically take this test and see how my score improves over time. I don’t think I’ll ever be at 100%, but the main goal is that I am constantly improving.
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” -Les Brown