Wednesday, September 15, 2010

today's forum on unemployment--article from PATCH

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Irvington Consultant to Present at Greenburgh Unemployment SymposiumIrvington's Paul Lewis will present advice on how to start a small business during the recession.
By Lizzie Hedrick | Email the author | September 14, 2010
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new Credit Provided by Paul Lewis Photos (1) Credit Provided by Paul Lewis
Your photos, videos & PDFs: Add Irvington resident Paul Lewis is in the process of starting a small business—a small business that helps other small businesses start up.

Last April, Lewis launched "Start Me Up," a consulting agency that helps small businesses take take flight.

"Over the past two years, I have been involved in the start-ups of two small businesses--one in California and in the other in New York," Lewis said. "And after a process of uncertainty and soul-searching, I realized the very act of starting businesses is what I do best. I enjoy building things--creating things out of nothing."

Tomorrow, Lewis will be one of the key speakers at an unemployment forum at the Greenburgh Town Library in Elmsford. By speaking at such events, Lewis hopes to empower locals who are unemployed--most likely not by choice--to embark on careers that may potentially be more fruitful and fulfilling than the ones they previously had and lost.

"What I tell people interested in starting a business is that they need to find something they're passionate about," Lewis said. "They should think, 'I'd like to spend my professional life dedicated to...' And then each individual fills in the blank."

Lewis believes there are two main stumbling blocks for business-rookies, which account for the 90 percent failure rate of up-starts nationally.

"The first mistake is lack of planning," Lewis said. "People cut corners on the numbers portion of their business plans. They underestimate how much money they will need to take off."

The second mistake, he said, is lack of fundraising.

"A good business plan will let you know how much money you'll need to put into your business to get it running and profitable without compromising your lifestyle," Lewis said.

A former high school math teacher, Lewis said he could be helpful to new business owners who are not sure how to do all the necessary calculations.

Lewis' advice on fundraising is to approach friends and family first.

"If you have a solid business plan that you believe in, and you sit down with friends, present it to them and then ask for a small investment, you can earn a lot of money that way," he said. "But you must convince them the investment is safe."

However, all obstacles aside, Lewis believes now is the ideal time to dive head-first into small business ownership.

The five points he uses to make his case are:

1) People who are unemployed have time to plan and raise funds.

2) Because so many other people are out of work, you will be able to find partners or employees willing to work for less than in a good job market.

3) Banks are looking to lend, and the government is giving them incentives to lend to small businesses.

4) Many companies have gone out of business during the recession, so there are holes in the marketplace. In Irvington, for example, Lewis said the only gourmet food store went out of business a few years ago. Now that another one is opening, residents are very excited.

5) Because other standing businesses have cut back on marketing and publicity, it will be easier to infiltrate markets with competition.

Because "Start Me Up" is a start-up itself, Lewis has offered to work with locals who attend tomorrow's forum free of charge.

"I understand that people have trouble making changes," Lewis said. "There have been times in my career when I wasn't sure what to do next, so I hope to help other people during that exciting, yet frightening, phase."

Greenburgh's unemployment symposium will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 10:30 a.m. in the Greenburgh Town Library.

Besides Lewis, other speakers will be:

Thom Kleiner, regional representitive of the New York State Department of Labor

Kathy Vaida, Avon

Lenore Rosenbaum, WJCS

Bob Gilson, VP Rockwood Search Assoc.

Grant Schneider, Westchester Human Resources Management Assoc.

Peter Lopresti, David Learner Assoc.

"There is almost nothing as depressing as being out of work. It is scary, stressful and sometimes--temporarily--discouraging," wrote Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner in an e-mail publicising the event.

Feiner encourages all locals currently out of work will attend.

The library is located at 300 Tarrytown Road in Elmsford; tomorrow's event begins at 10:30 a.m. Admission is free.