The Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success
IncubatorCTX, an entrepreneurial hub located at Concordia University Texas, hosted the March 2021 Speaker Series, where Reina G. Wiatt presented "The Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success."
Meet Reina Wiatt
Wiatt has more than 25 years of experience in the fields of accounting and taxes. She is also an entrepreneur, helping organizations improve operations through her company, Wiatt Consulting Services LLC.
She was first introduced to Concordia University Texas by a coworker. After conducting a 15-year search for a Christian university to which she could leave a bequest, Wiatt selected Concordia. When she first visited the University, she fell in love with the beautiful campus. Her favorite things about CTX are the positive messages and that it's spiritually uplifting.
During her presentation, Wiatt led attendees on the roadmap to entrepreneurial success.
Entrepreneur vs. Intrapreneur
Wiatt first distinguished between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.
Entrepreneurs are risk-takers who have a vision and are passionate about achieving the vision through innovative and creative solutions. They own their businesses, taking on high risk as they work toward achieving their dreams.
Intrapreneurs are employees within organizations who are motivated by their company's vision and work to achieve it through innovative ideas. They don't own the business, so they assume much less risk, and their main motivation is to earn a salary.
Both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are essential because both are innovators and leaders. Entrepreneurs build new businesses and create jobs, while intrapreneurs keep organizations from stagnating and help them remain competitive in the marketplace.
Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success
You have an incredible, one-of-a-kind idea that you want to translate into a business. Where do you start?
Vision & Goals
The first two stops on the roadmap to entrepreneurial success include creating a vision and setting goals.
Your vision explains what you want your business to become. The goals determine how you will achieve your vision.
Planning & Logistics
To be successful, you must plan and think through the logistics of how your organization operates.
When Wiatt worked in the semiconductor industry, she saw engineers who worked on planning and logistics all day long. "They are critical to operations," she said. "Planning and logistics are the nuts and bolts of how to make an organization successful."
A factor that could make or break your business is marketplace timing. Going to market with your product or service at the right time is crucial. While there is always risk associated with going to market, industry trends and forecasts shed lots of light on the products people are interested in and the products they will seek in the future.
The SWOT analysis is another helpful planning tool to help you determine where your product or service stands in the marketplace. You evaluate the strengths of your product or service, its weaknesses, the opportunities you have in the marketplace and the threats posed by competitors.
The next factor to consider is hiring employees.
"This is not a time to go cheap," Wiatt explained. "You need to attract the right kind of people to make your company a success."
There are multiple tools available to help employers connect with and recruit top talent, such as online job search sites, university career fairs and industry networking events.
Finances & Taxes
"Cash flow should be evaluated daily," Wiatt said. "You must determine how much cash your organization will burn through to keep the doors open."
Cash flow is what will allow your organization to operate and continue operating. There are also tax implications to consider, including property tax, sales tax, licenses and first-year requirements for new organizations.
Wiatt recommends that, before launching your business, you hire an accountant to determine the financial feasibility of your idea. In other words, the accountant will help you figure out if your idea can make money, create a budgeting process and establish an accounting software system.
HR & Culture
"Managing a business is one thing; managing people is something else," Wiatt stated.
Supervisors and managers must treat employees well, or you will likely face high turnover, which can bring down an organization.
It costs a lot of time and money to train new people, and finding top talent can be difficult, so the more employees you can retain, the better.
What the Bible Says
God's Word is sufficient for all areas of life, including how we conduct business.
In her presentation, Wiatt included specific references to Bible verses (all verses drawn from the English Standard Version):
- Leviticus 19:13
"You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning."
- Psalm 112:5
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.
- Proverbs 16:8
Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
- Proverbs 21:5
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
- Hebrews 13:16
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
"Use the Scriptures as a template for doing what is right because that is the way you will be successful," Wiatt said.
During the Q&A session, Wiatt provided some helpful tips for people considering entrepreneurship.
Tip 1: Work for someone first.
Wiatt advises you to get experience in the field you're interested in before launching your organization. Work for an organization first.
You can see company culture firsthand, determine what you like and don't like, and use the information to optimize your own business.
Additionally, you will build up capital to help fund your venture, and the experience will help you decide if this is what you want to do before investing your money and assuming risk.
Tip 2: Protect your intellectual property (IP).
Wiatt is an intellectual property holder, and her husband is co-author of two patents, so they understand the importance of protecting your IP.
"One of the foundations of a good business is that its intellectual property is protected," she explained. "Your IP is your company."
Wiatt recommends that you hire a patent attorney before launching your business to help you with patents, copyrights, trademarks and more. Look for an attorney who understands IP laws in lots of countries, especially if you plan to operate internationally.
Tip 3: Find a niche market.
Some of the most successful ventures provide a product or service for a niche market, providing solutions for a select portion of a larger market of customers.
One example Wiatt provided was the pet market, which has a variety of niches, like dog clothing, pet furniture and more. "When I was back east, I saw a lot of dogs dressed up better than people," she said.
Wiatt referenced a company in Austin, Texas, that produces and sells organic dog food. Most dog owners purchase regular dog food, but there is a collection of dog owners who will buy nothing but organic food for their dogs.
Tip 4: Choose the right business entity.
When establishing a business, you must choose the type of business entity. There are five primary business entities:
- C corporation
- Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
- S corporation
- Sole proprietorship
Wiatt's consulting business is an LLC, which offers limited liability, protecting the owner's personal assets from creditors. Your accountant can help you select the best structure for your business.
You don't have to travel the road to entrepreneurship alone! IncubatorCTX offers startups and early-stage businesses comprehensive support and resources, including mentorships.