By: Dalila Kahvedzic
Art & Life Editor
An entrepreneur is someone who looks at the world as an opportunity and understands that the problems which some people face can be turned into a good thing, St. Louis Community College— Meramec student Chris Brauch said.
Brauch is currently a transfer student from Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) studying global leadership and management, with plans to establish the Entrepreneurship Club at Meramec.
“Up until this point, I have started two companies—I have started a landscape management company as well as a real estate investing company,” Brauch said.
There are various upsides to starting a business, Brauch said, such as meeting great people and building your confidence as you understand that you do not have to be reliant on an employer to make a living — you can be reliant on yourself and your ability in the market in order to make a living.
As there are upsides, he said, there are also downsides.
In some instances, it can cost an individual the bottom line to make a customer happy and they then must take on more of a personal liability.
A huge amount of responsibility is also required, Brauch said, which can be a good thing but requires maturity.
Although entrepreneurship is not always about money, Brauch said, it can be as simple as starting out being a problem solver.
“It has to start with someone being creative and having courage and looking at things optimistically — you build that base and from there it turns into typically a good business,” Brauch said.
Brauch has plans to launch a company in August 2019 — a consulting firm to help people start and grow their businesses from the very earliest stages to the exit or sale of the company.
He would also like to assist with any problems the company may be experiencing.
The focus will be on small businesses, 50 employees or less, because that is an area that he is able to help in given his experience, he said.
As for the entrepreneurship club on campus, Brauch would like to set it up so it can run long after he’s gone, he said, as he will be going back to WashU.
He hopes that either someone can take over the role as president or he can run it with his current vice president without being enrolled at Meramec.
“It was supposed to start out as three to five friends picking a business book each week, reading a good portion of that book and then discussing it — so it was supposed to start out as sort of a book club,” Brauch said.
“And from my understanding and conversations with friends, it turned out to be — well, let’s just start an entire club.” Brauch is looking for passionate people who are willing to learn, to step outside of the box and be creative, he said.
Whether the individuals are interested in communication skills, business skills or entrepreneurial skills—they are welcome to come and no previous experience is needed.
“Our goal at this point is to develop relationships with one another to help each other,” Brauch said.
“So that’s one part of our club, is to help people get where they want to be with their businesses — in or outside of the school, in or outside of the club — we don’t care.” The second goal of the club is to build lasting relationships and friendships with one another, Brauch said.
“Whether it’s photography or whether it’s a landscaping business or whether it’s the club—we need to make sure that we have good relationships because most likely we will be doing business together for the rest of our lives,” Brauch said.
The first step is understanding the club memebers.
“Once I know that, I can give them resources, information and connections that will help them reach those goals.” For students that are thinking about opening their own company, the best thing they can do is take action, Brauch said.
They need to have courage, confidence, remain optimistic and actually do it rather than keeping all their ideas in their head—they need to implement them.
If an individual is not passionate about what they are doing, they should not plan on opening a business, Brauch said.
“Now, if they’re around the right people like me and this club and they want to do it, go to the club.
Start your company, decide which entity you’re going to go with, start calling your accountants and your insurance agents, start understanding your market and your industry, research your competitors, start learning those things—start planning.” If the individual is not willing to start from square one, they should not even go into the business because it will fail.
“90 percent of businesses fail within the first five years—that’s a little bit of a pessimistic viewpoint but it’s the reality and if they [students] can set themselves up to prepare then they are not going to be a part of that statistic,” Brauch said.
This club is to help students not be a part of that statistic, Brauch said.
They need to be able to be in the right mindset, do enough planning, so that way when their companies do launch, their companies don’t fail.
Brauch hopes to continue to promote and grow the club and does plan on setting up trips if funding is provided.
Trips would including visiting and interviewing different business companies, participating in networking events and also having guest speakers during club meetings.
Commitment to the club is important if students decide to come.
“They don’t have to make a commitment—we’re not another class,” Brauch said.
“They can come and go—if they like it, great, if they don’t they can leave; there’s no hard feelings there.”