Market research, balancing roles are key to starting small business


MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — Starting a business can be a difficult task, whether in a big city or a small town.

Small business owners in particular may have an even tougher time starting out, From restaurants to retail stores, local business officials recommend certain tips and tricks that will help any business succeed.

“I think just being knowledgeable about how to run a business [is important], not just what you do,” said Lauren Merritt, executive director of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce. “You might be a really great chef, and that’s amazing, but you need to know how to do those other things.”

In the Macomb area, small businesses will usually go to Merritt’s office for help after getting started with the local chapter of the Small Business Development Center at Western Illinois University. According to the Small Business Administration, 433,000 startups open each year, and about 400,000 will close. 

The SBDC’s director, Jim Boyd, said knowing your market as specifically as possible is essential to being one of the ones that stays open.

“You really, really, really need to know what your market is,” Boyd said. “Starting a business with the idea that there’s 350 million people in the United States, and ‘If I get 1 percent of 1 percent of 1 percent and charge $500 for my product, I’ll be a millionaire,’ [that’s] not necessarily [true].” 

Merritt agreed with this idea and stressed the importance of building capital and being prepared to be a “jack of all trades.”

“I think that can be a little bit of a shock to some people, just how much is involved in running a business.”
– Lauren Merritt, executive director of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce

While business owners may seek advice from loved ones, Boyd said it can be a challenge making sure they are honest with you about when your ideas might not work.

“Family and friends say, ‘Oh yeah, I love this stuff.’ Well, family and friends don’t generally want to hurt your feelings,” Boyd said.

Despite the different challenges, because business owners must have a variety of skills, Merritt said one of the most important things they can do is have a good work ethic. 

“There’s…about 20 other jobs you have to do, so at least the business owners I know in town, they’re the hardest-working people I know,” Merritt said. 

Those looking to start a small business locally can visit the local SBDC at Stipes Hall on Western Avenue and the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce at 214 N. Lafayette St. 

Previous articleOrphanage founder left impact on Macomb community
Next articleNEWS3 | Newscast Sept. 30, 2021