The struggles of running a small business -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

The struggles of running a small business

October 16, 2007

Albany--  Talk to any small business owner and they'll tell you it's a world of ups and downs. The downs got to be too much for one long-time businessman in Albany. He had to shut down.

The city of Albany is working hard to encourage new businesses to put out open signs.  One program may help.

This is the sight of Starling Williams many may be used to--a busy worker, service with a smile.

 "That was always a dream," said Williams.

Things have changed.

"I made the decision about three months ago after I faced reality," said Williams.

After 18 years, Starways Restaurant is now closed. "I've been closed for 17 days today but I come here everyday, not wanting to give up, not wanting to accept the fact," said Williams.

It's hard because he worked hard to stay open. After working 120 hour weeks to stay afloat, a changing economy won.

"When you just can't generate enough customers to stay in business, you have to throw the towel in on your heart, on something you love," said Williams. Starways is just one of a few Albany small businesses to shut down recently. So what's the climate like in Albany for future businesses?

"I think that it's progressive," said Pinky Douglas-Modeste.

Pinky Douglas-Modeste with the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business calls the climate progressive right now but says opening a small business is always hard. "You can't offer the same discount being a small business as a large business. You have to be competitive but you still have to make a profit," said Modeste.

That's why it's important to do research and have a plan in place before opening. The city has an Entrepreneur program to help. "What it's going to cost you to run this business, to go into business and then do a five or three year projection to see at what point you will get your money back," said Modeste.

Even though he's now packing up, Williams wouldn't discourage anyone else from opening up shop. "Don't let anybody's failure stop you from pursuing your dream because when you have that dream in your heart, nothing can stop you," said Williams.

Despite standing in front of a closed sign, in his mind he'll always be open here on Slappey Boulevard. "The people in Albany, they love me and I feel like they will miss me and I know I'm going to miss them," said Williams.

He's still unsure of his next step but he's thankful for the 18 steps now behind him.

The next Entrepreneur session will be held in February in conjunction with Albany State. To get more information, contact the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business.



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