Utah County experts give 5 tips for aspiring entrepreneurs

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Business-friendly tax laws and tools like Google’s high-speed internet make Utah County an ideal location for launching a new business. Many students and faculty members at Brigham Young University have noticed these advantages and are ready to start businesses of their own.

To assist BYU’s potential entrepreneurs with finding their footing in the sometimes unforgiving world of business start-ups, here are a few tips from local experts.

1. Have passion

Matt Sumsion and members of the Hoops ASL team practice for AAU competitions. (Matt Sumsion)

BYU student Matt Sumsion is a co-owner of Hoops ASL, an AAU basketball club for high school students in Utah County. He explained how important it is for entrepreneurs to have passion for their projects.

“You better love this. This better keep you up at night — (you should feel) butterflies whenever you think about it,” Sumsion said. “It will get so stressful and tough that if you don’t love it, you are going to quit.”

Sumsion added that a lack of passion from the owner will have negative consequences not only for the business, but also for everyone involved with the project.

2. Use your resources

Many resources exist to assist entrepreneurs with developing and supporting new businesses. For example, many banks offer free advice and consultation for small or new business owners. Wells Fargo Bank business banking specialist Billy Dahle has assisted many local businesses in Utah County.

“I help small business owners succeed financially by meeting with them and discussing all aspects of their business and providing them with the tools they need to help their business grow,” Dahle said. 

Classes offered through BYU are another good resource, according to Sumsion. He said he was particularly grateful for taking a management communication course. Other helpful classes can be found within the business management (BUS-M) teaching area.

For more information on available resources, consider joining the BYU Entrepreneur’s Club.

3. Find a mentor

BYU and Utah County are home to hundreds of veteran entrepreneurs, many of whom work as faculty members on the BYU campus. Asking questions is crucial and finding an expert with years of entrepreneurial experience is an excellent opportunity, according to Dahle.

Find someone who can answer your questions and guide you in the right direction,” Dahle said.

Finding the right mentor may seem like a daunting task for most new entrepreneurs. Fortunately, the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology provides mentoring  for BYU students.

Devin Hruska Emery at work in the kitchen at Hruska’s Kolache’s. (Maddi Driggs)

BYU senior Devin Hruska Emery is a co-owner of Hruska’s Kolaches, a popular breakfast spot in downtown Provo. She offered similar advice. Emery recalled how she would often ask her family for counsel and advice before making important business decisions. She explained how helpful it was to have a good team of people she and her co-owners could trust.

Emery cautioned that while mentors and trustworthy team members can offer advice, the entrepreneur should remember they have the final word.

4. Be ready to sacrifice

Knowing the ins and outs of essential business functions, understanding the local market and even studying the performance of competitors are all necessary elements to entrepreneurial preparedness, according to Dahle. With all it takes to run a successful business, aspiring entrepreneurs may find themselves sacrificing much more of their day-to-day lives then they originally planned.

Sumsion said sacrifice can sometimes mean delaying personal compensation longer than expected. He recommended that future entrepreneurs be ‘unrealistic’ when estimating how long it might take to make any money — in other words, plan for longer than seems logical.

Emery agreed that starting a business demands sacrifice, but she also pointed out that entrepreneurs don’t need to sacrifice everything to find success. Emery said she balances her responsibilities as a student, the joy of dog ownership and her relatively new marriage with the daily operation of Hruska’s Kolaches.

Referring to the balance of business ownership and personal life, Emery insisted that it is possible to “have it all.”

“It can be as great as you want it to be,” Emery said.

5. Accept the possibility of failure

Failure is possible. According to Sumsion, creativity, passion and hard work are essential building blocks for effective entrepreneurs, but even the most successful entrepreneurs stumble at one point or another. Emery urged future entrepreneurs to push through the fear, and Dahle recommended just “going for it.” All three agreed that the personal and professional payoffs are worth the risks.

“The faster you let yourself mess up, the faster you’ll succeed,” Sumsion said. 

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