Being an entrepreneur isn't as sexy as people seem to think.
At least that's what Warren Logan has discovered as president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. In the last year, about 200 aspiring entrepreneurs have stopped by the Urban League's Entrepreneur Center for help starting or growing their businesses.
"Quite frankly, most of the people who have come through willing to start a business are not prepared for the entrepreneur journey," he said. "Nobody told them it was more than a 40-hour week, nobody told them there's no annual leave, no sick leave, and sometimes you work six, seven days a week. No one told them about the tax burden, about spending your last dime on inventory. Nobody bothered to tell them you can't borrow from the banks because they're not credit-worthy yet."
Somebody has to sit down and tell would-be entrepreneurs what it's all about, Logan said. And that's what the Urban League tries to do. He spoke to a crowd of more than 400 during the Urban League's second-annual entrepreneurship luncheon Wednesday.
The event featured Lisa Price, founder of the $40 million beauty company Carol's Daughter. Price started the company with $100 and a vision in 1994, and now is about to roll out her products in mass-market retailer Target. She's in charge of 75 employees and is already selling in similar retailers like J.C. Penny and Macy's.
Price agreed that being an entrepreneur -- and especially a successful entrepreneur -- can be extremely difficult.
"What I've learned throughout the years is that the obstacles don't go away, ever," she said. "They get bigger. You overcome one challenge, and then you have another, and another, and another -- and that's just the course of doing business."
She dished advice on everything from which shipping company to use (UPS since her husband used to work for them) to how to pick a company name and when a startup should hire additional employees.
"When you're the creative person, you're the person who has to sell the brand and you're labeling, shipping, packing and doing menial tasks that you can teach someone else to do, then you're at the place when you need people to help you," she said.
The crowd gave Price a standing ovation at the end of her 45-minute talk, in which she outlined how she turned a few homemade batches of lotion into a multi-million-dollar company.
"The fact that she started from a place of bankruptcy and she's doing this -- it's a story of hope," said attendee Caprice Wofford. "You can pick yourself up by your bootstraps and do whatever you want to do. I thought it was very encouraging."
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