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Setting up Shop

Barbara Bensoussan

Want to open a hair salon in your basement? Or start a professional bakery out of your kitchen? It’s not as straightforward as it may seem. Tips and pitfalls to be aware of before you go ahead.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

lightbulbIt all started when Baila received a package in the mail from her friend inEurope. Inside was a toy — let’s call it Widgets — for her kids. Made of brightly colored, interlocking plastic pieces, the toy kept Baila’s children entertained for hours. Before long, Baila was dreaming up a business plan — she was convinced that if she were to sell the Widgets locally, they’d go like hotcakes. The wheels in her mind started spinning. She could even manufacture other toys and start a whole toy business! She borrowed some money from her well-heeled brother and set up shop in her basement.

A year later, Baila had a basement full of unsold toys, and owed her brother a chunk of money. “I have enough toys to give birthday gifts for the next ten years,” she says ruefully. “I learned the hard way there’s a lot to know before you jump in.”

Many of us have aspirations to help the family parnassah by opening up a business. But as Baila discovered, there’s more to it than a bright idea.

“In American culture, we have this romantic idea of the self-made businessman — the little guy who grew a major business from nothing by dint of his smarts and hard work,” says Tiffany Goldberg, a facilitator for the Hebrew Free Loan Society (HFLS), which runs a business course for chareidi women. “But that sells short what really happens when you start a business.”

So what should one really know?

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