By Rod Lee
Getting into, running or growing a business will become a little less formidable a proposition for those who avail themselves of an upcoming workshop dedicated to just that endeavor, if Darek Chojnacki’s goal for the evening is realized.
Mr. Chojnacki is owner of Green Tree Insurance on E. Main St. in Webster. He is also a director of the Webster Dudley Business Alliance (WDBA) and a mentor with SCORE, the two organizations that are hosting the event on June 4th from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Gladys E. Kelly Public Library in downtown Webster. Attendance is free for WDBA members and ten dollars for all others.
Webster Dudley Oxford Chamber of Commerce members are welcome as well.
To register, email [email protected] or call Deb Horan at Booklovers’ Gourmet, 508-949-6232.
In discussing the workshop in his offices the afternoon of May 8th, Mr. Chojnacki portrayed it as a rare opportunity for both aspiring and established entrepreneurs to learn about the value of a solid business plan; and much more.
A self-professed tech geek with a background in the financial sector, Mr. Chojnacki considers it almost an obligation on his part to pass along to others keys to the type of the success he has enjoyed in building Green Tree Insurance and a companion venture called Business Runway.
With Business Runway, which is similar in scope to the advice he dispenses as a representative of SCORE, he has coached such clients as a dog grooming and washing company. As a fan of the TV show “Shark Tank,” his goal is to help individuals get started right and to avoid the pitfalls that can spell doom along the way.
“Being in business for yourself involves time, energy and money,” he said. “How you use those determines how you do. Someone might have a desire to go on their own, from employment to self-employment.” What they need to understand, he points out, is that “bridges” need to be crossed to reach that objective.
The first of these is creating a business plan. Either a “traditional” business plan or an “action-based” business plan which is the kind he will be talking about on June 4th.
“Banks want to see you have a plan in place,” he said. “Eighty percent [of applicants] get approved for a loan if they have laid it out.”
In today’s world, a good business plan might include such elements as what attention will be devoted to “social media;” e.g., “Facebook advertising,” he said.
A music business major at UMass Lowell, Mr. Chojnacki decided about six years ago to add a consulting component to the products and services he offers at Green Tree Insurance, hence the launch of Business Runway. “I knew I wanted to do something on the side,” he said. “Helping people is a passion.”
Often using analogies, he compares a business having the “measuring devices” in place to deal with issues as they arise to a dental assistant (which is a job his wife holds) having “all the tools lined up” for a particular procedure. “If you have a problem, how do you get around that?” he said. A business plan meets this challenge by being “like a map or a blueprint.” It is something that works as a guide at the beginning and that should be updated every three to five years as circumstances change, he said. “Every day is different.”
Mr. Chojnacki’s cordial personality, like that of the friendly neighbor next door, goes hand in hand with a keen awareness of what it takes to survive.
“Weight Watchers is successful,” he said, “because of a group accountability.” Likewise, “a business plan holds you accountable.” Sears’s mistake, he noted, as an aside, was, “Sears was still sending catalogs to people in 2000, when they should have had a website.
“This is the golden age of entrepreneurism online,” he said, in emphasizing how crucial a presence on the Internet is.
What makes an entrepreneur successful, he said, is, “if you stumble, get back up. It takes courage to keep going. Much of it is mindset. You can’t focus on getting to the top of the mountain right away.”
This counsel coming from a man who speaks of “pioneers vs. settlers. Pioneers are about founding, settlers about maintaining. I’m more of a pioneer.”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999