A Kansas City Entrepreneur Offers Tips for Success

Paulette Crawford

Kansas City entrepreneur Paulette Crawford started small and grew her business into a profitable organization with both local and national accounts. We asked her to share some of her insights into starting a successful small business.

Early in her career, Crawford worked as Chief Financial Officer for a multi-million dollar printing business. She became fascinated with the tailored manufacturing process and eventually was ready to take on wider responsibilities. So she formed a corporation with herself as the major stockholder, and used it to purchase an existing small printing business.

In her new role, Crawford worked 12-hour days and taught herself many new skills, including graphic design and sales. More importantly, the entrepreneurial experience forced her to exercise a host of leadership skills such as planning, organizing, collaborating, negotiating, training and managing groups of up to twenty people. Contributing to the business’s success were Crawford’s ability to triple sales within the first two years of ownership, and her move to enlarge the business’s scope of service to include full-service marketing and graphic design as well as printing.

Crawford insists, though, that the overriding factor in her company’s success was customer service. “It was the substance of each and every transaction. A comprehensive array of competent and courteous customer service skills enabled my business to grow and remain successful for seventeen years.”

Crawford’s tips for others wanting to start their own small business:

  1. Decide upon the kind of good or service you will be providing
  2. Know your existing competition in the market place
  3. Create a comprehensive sales plan which includes manageable goals
  4. Determine your fixed overhead and flexible production costs
  5. Research the different kinds of legal organizational forms
  6. Obtain approval (if necessary) for name of business
  7. Find a CPA and discuss some of the above as well as accounting requirements
  8. DO NOT SPEND MUCH MONEY UNTIL ALL RESEARCH AND CONSULTATION HAS BEEN COMPLETED

Crawford notes that even for experienced businesspeople, there are important business skills to be acquired in college, including strategic planning and organization as well as higher-level written and oral communication.

WGU Missouri’s College of Business offers competency-based degree programs including B.S. Business Management and Master of Business Administration. These programs make it possible for everyone, from entrepreneurs to employees of major corporations, to gain the skills for success.

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