Small Business Saturday is coming up on its 10th year of offering a local alternative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The idea is simple: You’re going to be doing a lot of Christmas shopping, and rather than rely solely on websites like Amazon and big-box stores like Walmart and Best Buy, why not take some extra time to find out if a local vendor sells some of those same products?
It won’t always work out that way, but when it does, consumers can rest assured they’re helping small business owners and the local economy.
Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30 this year.
There are plenty of small businesses to choose from. Many offer specially made products; some offer services. But rather than simply list off those businesses, the Recorder interviewed some small business owners about their journey and what advice they have for others who are interested in starting their own venture.
Moriah Salisbury started her party planning and décor business, Art Haus Balloon Company, two years ago and registered as an LLC in March. As she tells it, it was sort of a backward path to starting a business because she had the product before the idea.
Salisbury wondered if she could sell mini balloon columns for Mother’s Day one year and ended up getting five orders. That was good enough to decide she wanted to sell them out of her house.
Salisbury still sells out of her house for the most part, though she does have a physical location on East 38th Street that she rents. It’s a “trial and error thing,” she said, to see if people might be interested in renting out the space. Her company’s primary function is still balloon decorating.
Salisbury works two other jobs and hasn’t had to use a loan to support her business yet. She estimated she’s put in about $8,000 over the last two years.
Salibsury’s advice for future business owners included getting involved with the Hobby2Enterprise Entrepreneurial Series at Edna Martin Christian Center and researching inbiz.in.gov “to know what they’re getting into.”
Antonio Lipscomb doesn’t have a product to sell, or even a service to offer in the traditional sense.
He’s president of Minority Contractors Collaboration, which is a nonprofit offshoot of Love Life Outreach Vocational Training, an accredited construction training program.
“Small minority companies generally can’t compete with some of the larger companies,” Lipscomb said, “so we decided to create this as a mechanism that would empower those companies to compete.”
Using money from managing transitional housing, Lipscomb said he’s put about $100,000 into his organization and hasn’t had to take out a loan.
Lipscomb has two other employees.
He said anyone thinking about starting their own business should consider how much money they’ll need to start up and then take the time to save that amount so there isn’t a loan to worry about right away.
Lipscomb thinks everyone should at least consider starting their own business.
“You got two choices,” he said. “You can work for someone else’s corporation, or you can work for your own.”
Neither Salisbury nor Lipscomb have had to take out a loan for their business, but plenty of business owners do have to go that route.
Jonathan Walker, Indianapolis business banker with Centier Bank, said small business owners should “have their ducks in a row” before meeting with a loan officer. That means having a business plan, financial forecast, etc.
He recommended looking into SCORE Association, which has an Indianapolis branch at Keystone at the Crossing. The organization offers free mentoring.
Walker said one of the more common mistakes new business owners make is not having a formal process for friends and family who become investors before a traditional bank feels comfortable loaning to that business.
“Make sure however that funding comes about, it’s clean and clear documentation of what’s expected,” he said.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.