For many, owning their own business is as much a part of the American Dream as owning a house or vacationing at Disney World. But most people don’t know where to begin. And over 50 percent of all new businesses fail in the first year alone.

But entrepreneur-wannabes can benefit from a free seminar, “Starting and Succeeding with a New Business,” Tuesday, March 7, at 7 p.m. at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. The seminar leader is Barry Bendes, a partner in the New York City and Short Hills firm of Edwards, Angel, Palmer & Dodge. Also speaking is Stuart Dorsky, a tax principal with Deloitte & Touche. Pre-registration is required. For more information visit www.njsbf.org or call 1-800-FREE-LAW.

“We are going to offer people the good, the bad, and the ugly facts about how to start a new business,” says Bendes. “The key, however, is that people need to plan for success.” The seminar, which Bendes says is user-friendly (“no legalese or fancy terms”) is sponsored by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, the educational and philanthropic arm of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Key discussion points include tips on how to choose the form of entity, planning for success, developing a concept into an effective business plan, raising capital and financing a new business, hiring and firing issues, and resources available to the startup in New Jersey. There will also be a question-and-answer session at the end. “Although we have a structure to the program, it really is an interactive seminar,” says Bendes. “Very often the questions people ask bring us down some very interesting paths.”

Bendes has been leading this seminar for over a decade, usually once a year (more often if there is a big layoff from an area employer), and although he doesn’t get paid for the work, he says they are well worth his time. “It is my way of giving back to the community,” he says. “The result is that when someone goes to see their lawyer or accountant to talk about starting a business they already have some idea of what they are doing. It saves them money, because they come in prepared, and it gets them up and running much faster.”

Many would-be business owners who have attended the seminars in the past are employees checking out their potential options. Still others have recently lost their jobs. “People have a lot of different ideas about what owning a business can mean, says Bendes. “Many people are looking to start their own consulting business, while others are thinking of buying a business, and still others are considering a franchise operation.”

There are a variety of options for people looking to become their own boss by owning a business, including sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and LLC (Limited Liability Company). The history of each is explored as well as the advantages of each one. There will also be a discussion on the tax advantages of setting up your business in various ways. “It’s is very important to make a plan in advance,” says Bendes. “You want to make sure you start off with enough capital to get it up and going. You also don’t want surprises along the way like audit issues or unforeseen finance issues.”

Bendes says that he tailors the presentation to the type of audience that attends. “Very often the discussion breaks down into different levels of business sophistication,” he says. “We have professionals with college or advanced degrees, people who are sales people and have been in business before, and some novices.”

Bendes graduated from Queens College of the City University of New York and received his law degree from New York University School of Law in 1974. His advice for those who are about to sail off into the uncharted waters business ownership includes these tips:

Find a good accountant. Bendes is an attorney, but still, he says that “the most important thing that I tell people is to go out and get yourself a good accountant. It is much more important than getting a good lawyer.” Do this before renting space or incorporating, he says. A thorough consultation should take place well before any business cards are printed up.

Plan ahead. What sort of business are you interested in? What is the current market? What about short-term and long-term success? “Planning is king and the second most important thing is to make a good business plan,” says Bendes. “It serves as a tool to help get started and well as measuring your path to success as you go along.”

Maintain a positive attitude. Owning your own business is time consuming, and a huge amount of work. Despite the time commitment, rewards are rarely immediate. There will be times when the new business owner will doubt that what he is doing is worth it. But Bendes says that successful businesses are started every day and it’s important to keep a good outlook. “The more you plan for success,” says Bendes. “The better you chances are of having success.”

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