Seminar offers advice to hopeful business owners

Aspiring entrepreneurs young and old, with business ideas ranging from landscaping to dance studios, received free advice on business start-up through the Start Smart seminar offered by Weber State University’s Small Business Development Center.

The Start Smart seminars aim to offer advice on starting a business, highlighting information on business planning, entry strategy and forms of business ownership. They are two hours in length.

Jared Van Orden instructed the seminar and is one of two instructors for Start Smart. Van Orden has been involved with small businesses in the past, and previously worked for a venture capital firm doing business analysis. He said he hopes the Start Smart seminars will kick-start businesses in the community and help with the economic crisis.

“Economic development is a big thing,” Van Orden said. “If we are going to get out of this economic situation, it’s going to be a lot through entrepreneurs and businesses who employ people.”

Van Orden said he also hopes to provide a sense of enthusiasm for entrepreneurs to start their businesses sooner rather than later.

“If I can help people at these beginning stages, it’s just exciting to me,” he said. “But most of all, (I want to instill) a hope and energy, an urgency to get started. I am always trying to talk about how can you start next week or next month and prove that your business model is viable and works.”

It’s a message that aspiring business owner Katie Nelson said helped her leave the seminar with renewed enthusiasm.

“It’s motivating,” Nelson said. “I love the emphasis on ‘I want you to start your business next week or next month’, because that’s what I want to do. I want to start when I’m feeling motivated and not wait until eight months later, when I’m just sick of the whole idea, before I get a chance to do anything.”

Nelson is a videographer who wants to turn her career choice into a business. She said she wants her business to focus on lifestyle videography and offer start-up videography for other small businesses. Nelson also said she attended the seminar to make sure she had the right information to start her business correctly.

“For me, I feel like I’ve got the creative part,” Nelson said. “But as far as the business side, I want to know that I’m doing everything right, everything legal, that I’m not setting myself up for financial failure. I really started off knowing nothing about that. I’m thrilled that there was something in the community where I could get some questions answered and just hear from someone knowledgeable about it.”

Attendee Halie Gundersen said she was also relieved to find she could get her questions answered by a professional.

“I don’t think that people understand or realize the amount of barriers there are to get into business,” Gundersen said. “People need guidance. The seminar really just gives people clear answers.”

Gundersen said she hopes to start a food-truck business that sells handcrafted street food in Salt Lake City. Gundersen decided to start the business after searching through the existing businesses listed on the KSL website.

“I just was just kind of trying to figure out what to do with my life,” Gunderson said. “I just saw a food truck, and it was just under $20,000. I thought, ‘Hmm . . . that wouldn’t be a bad business to start up.’ So I kind of just went with it from there.”

Gundersen said she believes small businesses are important to the community.

“I think it’s important to sustain your local community,” Gundersen said. “Small businesses do that, whereas franchises and other businesses are taking things from the top. If you’re working hard in your community, you’re going to make your community better.”

Nelson agreed that local businesses are a benefit.

“I love local businesses,” Nelson said. “I just love them. There’s always a lot more customer service involved. People are more willing to listen to you and care about what you think and what you have to say.”

She said she hopes more people will realize there is assistance for small business start-up and take the opportunity to start their own businesses.

“I think that Utah is full of brilliant people,” she said. “I think a lot of that gets wasted because people are afraid to give their ideas a shot.”