What are your experiences with starting a small business?

I have a very rough idea of starting a dessert shop. I’m looking for a path to refining the idea a bit more before I start putting it down on paper. I don’t have any inflated views of success, nor do I plan on attempting my business venture until I have all of the details worked out and I feel as though I am completely prepared.

I have been doing plenty of research on regulations and how to go about cultivating a business plan, but I am looking for personal experience here from people who were successful or unsuccessful in pursuing their own business (especially if it’s food related).
Tell me about your journey and the steps you personally took to refining your idea and preparing for business.
What were some things that you learned in the process?
What were some hard problems you had to overcome?
What were you looking for when considering location?
What are the pros and cons of opening in a small town? How about a big city?
Do you have any experience in partnering with family? How about with friends? Is there difference in the two?
What have you learned concerning customer trends?
Is it typically a better idea to have a wide variety on your menu, or to specialize in a particular thing?
Do seasonal/temporary items improve the customer experience (and business)?
Who (or what company) did you look to for coaching and professional advice?

I am not looking for professional advice or coaching on Yahoo Answers. I just want to know your different personal experiences and what paths worked (or didn’t work) for you.
Thanks!

Your local SCORE and SBA in your phone book can help you–that’s what they’re there for, they mentor new start ups, give out info, are there to help.

I’d interview an owner or manager of a catering service, a bakery and a bread place, just to get background information for your area. Taking some business classes at night from the local community schools is a good idea too.

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One Response to What are your experiences with starting a small business?

  1. Elaine M says:

    Your local SCORE and SBA in your phone book can help you–that’s what they’re there for, they mentor new start ups, give out info, are there to help.

    I’d interview an owner or manager of a catering service, a bakery and a bread place, just to get background information for your area. Taking some business classes at night from the local community schools is a good idea too.References :

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