How to Keep from Finding Out You Have Ebola (and Start a Business)

by Greg Prestemon

This is how you’ll find out you have Ebola:

You’ll wake up with a cough.

And a headache.

You’ll be a bit fatigued.

So you call in sick, and treat your illness with sleep, half of Gilmore Girls Season 3 on Netflix, and ice cream eaten straight from the carton.

At the end of the day, two hours before the Walgreens’ in-store clinic closes, you decide that before you pay your copay (and put on pants for the first time all day), you want to look up your symptoms online.

You log on to WebMD.

You enter in the following symptoms: cough, headache, and fatigue.

And the Internet—which never, ever lies—gives you the awful news:

You have Ebola.

This surprises you, since you haven’t traveled internationally, your internal organs haven’t liquefied, and you were able to pay relatively close attention to Gilmore Girls, which seems unlikely, if you actually have Ebola.

Still, this is scary stuff, and you panic.

If there was ever a good time to suck it up and pay your copay, it’s when you have Ebola.

So you (reluctantly) put on pants, and head in to Walgreens.

You don’t know if they treat Ebola, but you do know they accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

There, a Walgreens healthcare professional gives you the news:

You do not have Ebola.

You have a mild case of the flu.

And the perennial shame of having gone to Walgreens with ice cream on your shirt, claiming you have Ebola.

We see the equivalent of aspiring entrepreneurs coming to the St. Charles EDC Business and Community Partners facility with a wild, desperate look in their eye, hollering about Ebola.

(Not actual Ebola, more like confusing government forms and overwhelming amounts of bad advice—but the two aren’t as different as you would think.)

What happens is an entrepreneur has an idea, does a Google search on “How to Start a Business,” and comes across so many organizations, consultants, and Secretary of State forms that he or she gets overwhelmed.

Too often, all that can squelch a great idea before that idea can even be a seed that gets planted, let alone become a tree that blooms.

Rather than muddle your way through a pile of dream-killing forms and bad advice, here are the first two things you should do when thinking about starting a business:

1. Have an idea.

This sounds simplistic, but filing an LLC formation with the State of Missouri is actually relatively easy. However, having a legal business structure in place is not the same thing as having an actual business. Occasionally in the EDC’s world-class (It’s not self-promotional if it’s true!) incubator we come across an aspiring entrepreneur who is focused on the paperwork before the idea.

Paperwork is important.

But the idea is the business.

You will change or modify that idea multiple times. Your startup might completely pivot, and end up doing something entirely different.

That’s okay.

But a business license or an LLC doesn’t make you a living, breathing, company.

An idea does.

2. Visit qualified, professional business counselors and finance experts.

At the EDC’s office, you’ll find business counselors, loan programs and other financial resources, educational opportunities, and a lot of services that will help you cut through the noise and figure out exactly what you need to turn your entrepreneurial idea into reality.

And you’ll find more than programs.

Inside our building, you’ll find people who are truly passionate about helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. You’ll find people like Justin Schulz, the Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the EDC, whose job is to help you figure out how to access the resources you need—including funding resources and loan programs.

And the best part of coming in to talk to Justin and the rest of the team, rather than figuring it out yourself?

It’s free.

No copay needed.

But you do have to wear pants.

We have rules about that.

Greg Prestemon is President and CEO of the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners