Twenty-two prospective business owners showed up at Rust Library in Leesburg last week to get some free expert advice on how to successfully start and operate their own businesses.
Leesburg’s Mason Enterprise Center hosted its monthly “Starting a Business in Loudoun County” group session at the library Thursday, with a two-hour presentation followed by a two-hour period for questions and answers aimed at helping the attendees understand what makes a business venture profitable and how to know if they are ready for such a launch.
Eric Byrd, manager of the center’s Small Business Development Program, led the session and touched on key themes including costs, liabilities, taxes and other legal implications. His initial “tragic but hopeful” beginning, however, got everyone ready to learn.
“There’s a lot that you won’t know even after starting your business,” he said. “Get used to being wrong about 80 percent of the time—it’s how you handle that.”
Byrd discussed with the aspiring business owners a few topics that he said tend to confuse most people, including legal structure and the licensing and permit process. He went into detail about the difference between registering a business as an LLC, a sole proprietorship or a partnership.
“They’re all worried about choosing the right structure,” he said. “Almost everybody finds that information extremely valuable.”
At the beginning of the presentation, the attendees were also given the chance to tell their stories. One said she wanted to start a fitness boutique center by summer, while another said he had his sights set on opening a home remodeling company next month. One duo even told the class that they were close to investing in a restaurant business but at the last minute “chickened out.”
Present at the session were not only those interested in starting a business of their own, but also a few who have already done so and were looking for some additional advice on how to grow successfully.
The Mason Enterprise Center is managed by George Mason University and provides business outreach services for the general public. The program has multiple locations in Northern Virginia that all offer no cost, one-on-one business advising and educational and networking events, in addition to fee-based meeting and office space. The center’s flagship event is the annual Loudoun Small Business Conference, which will be held May 14 this year.