DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / David Parker, senior vice president of economic development for the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi, outlines strategic business practices at Thursday's "From Idea to OPEN" workshop at the Lincoln Civic Center.
DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / David Parker, senior vice president of economic development for the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi, outlines strategic business practices at Thursday's "From Idea to OPEN" workshop at the Lincoln Civic Center.

Workshop gives local businesses key information

Published 11:50pm Saturday, October 26, 2013

Roughly one third of all businesses fail in the first two years, according to the Small Business Administration.

While this is a far cry from the long-held belief that 50 percent of new businesses fail in the first year, it is likely that for every three businesses started today, at least one of them will result in failure. By year four, that percentage increases to 50 percent, representing half of all businesses, statistics show.

A large key to business success, or failure, depends on information, according to Garrick Combs, executive director of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

In a concerted effort to prevent business failure in the community, and to increase small business successes, the chamber joined forces Thursday with representatives from Magnolia Electric Power Association, Southwest Mississippi Electric, the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi and the Mississippi Development Authority to present “From Idea to OPEN,” an informal workshop meant to educate and inform members of the business community in Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

“Workshops of this nature are vitally important to the community – especially for cities the size of Brookhaven,” said David Parker, senior vice president of economic development for the Electric Power Associations and guest speaker at Thursday’s event.

“Out of all the businesses in the city, less than 10 can be considered ‘large’ businesses,” said Parker. This designates every other business, or the lion’s share of commerce in town, as a small business, he indicated.

At the workshop, business owners and leaders from across the state of Mississippi helped participants learn about common business concerns, such as the legal forms of small business ownership, how to develop a business plan and handle employee benefits and marketing, among other things.

Speakers at the event also provided information on small business loan programs that might be available and how to secure a business loan, as well as potential tax issues and financial statements.

Additionally, the workshop included instruction in the use of Business Plan Pro, a computer software program designed to assist just about any form of business.

Among some of the leading management mistakes, according to experts at the workshop, include going into business for the wrong reason, taking bad advice from family and friends, family pressure on time, a lack of commitment or money and lack of market awareness to name, just a few.

“Starting a small business is a lot like making a wedding cake. You take a bunch of different ingredients and put them together,” Parker said. “Essential ingredients to a small business include an appropriate business and marketing plan and the ability to identify a customer base and competition.”

In determining key factors in business success, Parker places “due diligence” at the top of the list. Lack of it can plunder a new business, while great attention to it can enhance the growth of a new business, according to Parker.

Combs saw the workshop as a potential opportunity to recruit new companies to the area.

“Our goal at the chamber is to help identify and foster support for new businesses, as well as our existing entrepreneurial base,” said Combs. “We want to support our community’s business activities and also provide resources for them,” Combs told the workshop audience.

Combs noted the 15th anniversary of Reeds Metals and other successful businesses like Ward 6 Alderman David Phillips’ company, Phillips Bark Processing, and American Railcar Inc.’s upcoming new plant as “having an enormous impact on the economy of Brookhaven.”

Director of Marketing for the Chamber Kay Burton believes that if just one of the ideas at the workshop sinks in, it could mean extra commerce for the city.

“The ideas here can potentially grow legs, and become a viable part of future business ventures and commerce in the area,” said Burton.