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Small business start-up

By Kelley Atherton

Triplicate staff writer

A Google search of "why small businesses fail" brings up a long list of Web sites with that precise headline.

Through rose-colored glasses, people are trying, really trying, to rebuild this town. Through a pessimistic lens, however, whatever people are doing is not enough.

The reality is somewhere in between.

Crescent City was once a bustling town filled with courageous people who ventured west and made it all the way to the Pacific.

A.J. Bledsoe's 1881 book, "History of Del Norte County, California," listed the wide variety of businesses:

"Of the business houses of Crescent City, three are general merchandise stores, one groceries and provisions, one fancy goods, books and stationery, two stoves and tinware, one boots and shoes, one harness and saddleryware, one drugs and medicines, one bread and confectionery and nine saloons."

Bledsoe goes on to name several barbers, tailers, blacksmiths and hotels. This is in addition to the multiple businesses in Smith River and Happy Camp. The economy also benefited from the lumber, mining, fishing and agriculture industries.

Which brings up the question as to why our downtown is still littered with vacant storefronts 44 years after the devastating tsunami 1964.

Those plentiful industries are gone and this county has seen its share of tsunamis, fires and floods in the last 150-plus years. Yet, the prosperous people never gave up—Crescent City always bounced back.

It's time to stop living in the past and focus on what those with the will to succeed can do. The question remains, are people just not doing enough or are the odds stacked against business owners?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first five years. Above all else is underestimating how hard starting a business will be. Here's some other reasons why:

•Lack of experience

•Insufficient capital (money)

•Poor location

•Poor inventory management

•Over-investment in fixed assets

•Poor credit arrangements

•Personal use of business funds

•Unexpected growth

•Competition

•Low sales

On the flip side, a Google search of "why small businesses succeed" also comes up with a long list of Web sites. The SBA implies that an entrepreneur's personality has a lot to do with it.

•Self-starter

•Able to get along with different personalities

•Can make decisions under fire

•Physical and emotional stamina

•Organizational skills

•Strong drive and motivation

•Stable family life

There's no reason this town should fall to the wayside. It just needs more people to get out there and do something. There are people doing their part, but more people trying to clean up blight or starting businesses can't hurt.

The great appeal of this area is the nature—capitalize on the idea of a quaint, coastal town filled with commerce.

Ever wanted to start your own restaurant, wine bar or boutique with a unique flair? Take the above potential pitfalls into consideration and run with your idea. There is grant and loan money out there, but be prepared first, read the books and visit the Small Business Development Center.

Reach Kelley Atherton at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
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