AUGUSTA — Starting a business is always a risk.

Ed Ross’s role as a SCORE counselor is to help make sure entrepreneurs don’t take on more than they can handle.

Ross talked with Capital Area Technical Center students this week to explain some of the considerations for new businesses, and the organizations that can help them, including SCORE. Ross volunteers with the Augusta chapter of the nonprofit organization.

“I firmly believe that the successful entrepreneurs are the people who identify risk and then minimize it,” he told students of the new Business Careers Academy.

The Augusta school board wants the new program to encourage entrepreneurship, teacher Ryan Wheaton said. That’s why he asked Ross to speak to his students on Tuesday.

The biggest reason that new businesses fail is under-capitalization, Ross said.

“It always takes more money and it always takes longer than you think,” he said.

Ross described some of the assistance that the Small Business Administration can offer and shared a scenario with the students.

A man in his 20s wanted to start a windshield repair business, Ross said. He had the technical skills necessary, but not the business knowledge or financial discipline. When the man came to SCORE, Ross — who has a background in accounting — helped him tally up the costs of launching the business and develop a personal budget. The man had credit card debt and was not saving any money.

Although Ross presented some of the challenges of launching a business, he did not discourage entrepreneurship.

“You need some real-world experience, but if you’ve got that dream and it sticks with you for a while and it’s consistent, then don’t let go of it,” he said.

After the talk, Cony High School senior Matt Swan said he’s not sure what industry he wants to enter — or whether he should learn a trade or get a more general business education — but he definitely wants to be an entrepreneur.

“I’ve always had the dream of owning my own business,” he said. “I’ve never liked the idea of working for someone else.”

Cony senior Matt Landry said he’s interested in starting a business or entering a partnership with a friend. Listening to Ross reinforced the necessity of having a strong financial foundation and the know-how to manage a business.

Landry also took away a lesson about the importance of budgeting.

“There’s wants and then there’s necessities,” he said. “Try to stick to the necessities. You want something today, but you don’t necessarily need it tomorrow.”

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

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