Are you considering starting a new business? Or are you an established business looking to expand? Have questions you need answered? Consider sitting in on one of our rewarding seminars this spring!
First Step Seminar: How to Start a Successful Business
This program will assist entrepreneurs in starting down the path of successful business ownership -- evaluating business ideas, developing a business plan, selecting a legal structure, registering a company, and exploring financial options.
Join us on Jan 29, Feb 20, Mar 20, May 7 or Jun 11
The Second Step Series: Business Planning
Helps participants develop a practical business plan for a new business or a project within an existing business. Participants learn to organize and improve the essential elements of their ideas prior to creating full-blown business plans.
Join us on Apr 10, 17, and 24
Click here to learn more and register online
Introduction to Government Marketing
This introductory seminar will show you how to marketing your goods or services to government agencies at the (federal, state, or local level). Learn how selling to government agencies can present opportunities to grow or diversity your company's revenues.
Join us on Jan 17, Feb 7, Mar 12, or May 9
Click here to learn more and register online
This two evening seminar begins with a review of basic accounting terminology, book keeping/record keeping processes and helps you understand how the popular QuickBooks software can help you creating invoices, receive and making deposits, enter and pay bills, reconcile bank accounts, and generate financial reports and statements.
Join us on April 9 and 10
- Is there a clear MARKET for my product or service? We've found that it is not enough for an entrepreneur to be interested in providing a product or service; there also has to be a "gap" in the market where customers are seeking (and will pay for) a new or improved product or service. Having found a clear need, it's important that your product or service be specific enough to implement and include the actual product or service design, manufacturing or service process, along with a clear definition of how you will deliver it to your specific target market.
- Is my idea FINANCIAL FEASIBLE? The answer to this question requires an analysis of the potential market and anticipated revenues from sales along with the costs associated with starting the business and covering ongoing operational expenses. You really need to know the numbers. New entrepreneurs need to list the start-up costs, develop a realistic sales forecast (estimates of quantities and prices for all products and services to be provided), and an income statement with sales and costs (materials, labor and overhead) by month for the first year and by year for at least two years out.
- How is this business REGULATED? What permits, registrations, inspections will be required to operate in my chosen location? What laws govern the operation of my new business idea? These questions need to be asked at the local level (township, municipality, county) and at the state and federal level. Unfortunately, regulations vary dramatically by location and by type of business; so this is a very important area of research for new entrepreneurs.
- Do I have the RESOURCES it will take to create and operate the business? Here we're talking about: the skills, finances, know-how, time, contacts, practical experience and attitude needed to get started and thrive in the business. We've found that a critical component of having what it takes relates to your passion for the enterprise. Do you have a burning desire to create and operate a successful business that will sustain you through the long days and nights, difficulties and frustrations you will undoubtedly face? Do you have a team with diverse skills working with you? We've seen time and time again that the lone entrepreneur cannot possibly see all the issues and opportunities a new business might face nor have the necessary skills and experience needed to deal with them.
- Have I identified the KEY RISKS and developed plans to manage them? Successful businesses are skilled at risk management. They understand what could go wrong and have "risk mitigation" plans in place to reduce the chances that key risks will occur. They also develop "contingency" plans that allow them to act quickly in case problems do occur. Successful business leaders are also mindful of possible future market conditions and trends. They know that changes in technology, regulation and customer needs can have a dramatic impact on a new business. While no one has a crystal ball, the proactive entrepreneur will be on top of potential issues and opportunities with clear plans for the future under varying scenarios. They will have monitoring devices in place to watch for indicators of change. Advance planning can mean the difference between a successful business and a failure.
• Know the audience to which you are presenting
• Rehearse the presentation several times beforehand
• Set a specific time limit
• Dress professionally
• Use a clean, aesthetically pleasing slide background and layout
• Make the font large enough to read from the back of the room
• Use short and concise bullet points, then elaborate in your speaking
• Speak slowly and coherently, and change the inflection in your voice
• Make frequent eye contact with members of the audience
• Allow time for questions and comments
• Read directly from the slide
• Make the slides too wordy
• Make spelling or grammatical errors
• Use long, run-on sentences in the slides
• Use too much animation or sound effects
• Speak too quickly or use filler words such as “uh” or “um”
• Fidget and make unnecessary body movements
Preparing and executing an effective presentation can take a significant amount of time and effort. It may even take years to develop the skills and gain the necessary experience. But if you follow these simple steps, you will be able to make a successful and compelling presentation to promote your business or any other endeavor in life.
Dan King initially came to the Widener SBDC in April 2010 in search of marketing assistance for his Farmers Market. The Chester Farmers Market sells a variety of foods, ranging from hot meats such as mouth-watering chicken wings and ribs to fresh deli meats, fruits, and vegetables. The market also offers desserts including homemade pies, cookies, and cakes. Originally, Dan was established on the corner of 9th and Kerlin Streets, and his business was thriving. However, due to complaints about the smoke that his cooking procedures were producing, he was forced to move to an interior location on Welsh St. in downtown Chester. His business began declining immediately, as his former customers were all either unaware of his new location or unwilling to travel so far. Dan needed ways to increase his clientele. The SBDC coached Dan in designing brochures to advertise the market, as well as other methods that helped widen his popularity in the area. The SBDC has also assisted him in developing several marketing materials for events that Dan has held at his market, thus giving him to necessary tools to increase his customer base.
The SBDC also accompanied Dan in a meeting with Chester City representatives in order to get their feedback on ways of increasing business in the city. Likewise, with the SBDC’s aid, Dan was granted permission to sell at his previous location and reach his old, although he is still not allowed to cook there. Limited parking around the Farmers Market was also an issue, especially with the site being located on a one-way street that only runs outwards from the parking lot. The SBDC was successful in reversing St. Charles Street to lead into the parking lot behind the building, where Dan currently uses a sign to direct customers inside the market. Dan also implemented the SBDC’s recommendation of installing a rear door into the market from the parking lot to give customers easier access to the store.
The SBDC also reviewed Dan’s product prices and recognized that they were exceptionally low compared to other markets in the area. Dan adopted the SBDC’s suggestion that he raise prices to increase his profit margins, as well as many other pricing recommendations. Most recently, Dan participated in a 3-month project with the senior students of Widener University’s Management 451 class to develop a comprehensive marketing plan to help increase sales. The students provided several viable recommendations that Dan has recently implemented. Dan has recently reported that his sales have dramatically increased over the last several months, and he believes they will continue to rise as the word spreads throughout the community about his fantastic market.
In hopes of making our newsletter more accessible and available to the public, we have decided to breathe new life into the Widener SBDC blog and integrate our newsletter posts into a blog format. This will also allow our readers to follow our posts, staying updated with the latest SBDC news and our advice for small businesses. Feel free to follow us, comment on stories, and suggest topics of interest for future pieces. Thanks and enjoy!
One of the most effective marketing tools for your business can come through designing a brochure to advertise your business. Brochures are quick and easy ways to advertise your business and are a source of information the customer can keep. One program used to design brochures is Microsoft Publisher. Publisher is easy to use and already has templates in the program so it makes designing the brochure very straightforward. To begin, open Publisher and pick one of the “Brochure” templates. Select a design that you like and you are ready to begin.
When looking at the template it is important to get your bearings so that you understand which panel will be which part on the Trifold brochure. On the bottom of the screen you can switch between page 1 or page 2. Click on page 1 to begin. The far right panel of page 1 is the front of the brochure. In this panel you should have your business’s name, address, phone number, and other important information such as hours of operation. Placing your business’s logo or a picture of your business on the front panel is also a good idea. The middle panel of page 1 is the back cover of the brochure. On here you could have directions to your business or other vital information that the reader would see on the outside of the brochure. The far left panel of the 1st page is the inside flap. This may be a good place to briefly summarize your business’s products or services. It is important that you don’t overcrowd the brochure with lots of text. Text should be short, concise, and to the point. Sometimes using bullet points rather than paragraphs keeps you honest with the amount of text you are using.
When you have finished the 1st page it is time to move onto the 2nd page which is where the bulk of your material will be. The most important information is on these three panels and they will make up the inside of your brochure. These are the panels that the reader will see when they unfold the brochure. Breaking up these panels by using section headings can make it easier to read. Remember not to use too much text. Using big pictures for these three panels will not only help to take up room but will also provide visual stimulation for the reader. These pictures should entice the customer to want to find out more about the products or services your business offers.
Once you have finished the brochure you can either print it out yourself (on the front and back of an 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper) or you can get them professionally printed at a local store or using an online printing company. Online printing companies tend to be cheaper and the more brochures you buy the cheaper they are per copy.
- Passion - Your passion for the business will allow you to overcome difficult moments and give you the ability to persuade people to want to work for you.
- Trust, Reliability & Dependability - People want to work with people that they know and trust.
- Be Flexible, Except With Core Values - The foundation of your business is built on specific core values, and for no reason should they be compromised with the pressure of current needs.
- Make Decisions in a Timely Manner - Procrastination and putting something off could lead to a missed opportunity.
- The Major Company Asset = YOU - You are the foundation of the business, take care of yourself for sake of your business.
- Confidence - The way you present yourself is exactly how people will portray you, confidence is contagious.
- Admit Mistakes, And be Accepting of Criticism - Mistakes should be viewed as learning techniques, not failures. "It takes a 1,000 ideas to come up with one good idea."
- Perseverance - A strong work ethic and persistence will go a long way.
- Treat Ups and Downs the Same - Keep your head on straight through the good times, and respond quickly and move on in the bad times. The past is always going to be just that, the past.
- Step Out of Your Boundaries - When given the opportunity a successful business sometimes must take a chance with the unfamiliar in order to pursue the great.
Federal, state, and local governments already spend billions of dollars on goods and services every year. Federal purchasing offices are often required to set aside contracts or portions of contracts for exclusive bidding by small and/or minority-owned businesses. In addition, major prime contractors are required to subcontract part of their work out to small firms. Regardless of the product or service you offer government entities probably purchase it.
A common set of questions is:
1. How do I find out if there are opportunities for my company?
2. How much competition exists?
3. Can small companies actually compete?
4. How much work is it to deal with government purchasing requirements?
5. How do we find information on government purchasing trends and sales contacts?
The simple answer to these and many related questions is the same as the answer to how to learn about any new market: focused market research. There are a number of public, free resources that can assist you with understanding government markets.
The Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) was set up by the Defense Logistics Agency to assist companies navigate the sometimes daunting task of understanding government procurement practices. The program consists of 94 Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) at various locations around the country. One such center is located with the Widener University Small Business Development Center. The PTAC offers counseling and education on how to use online resources to find out what agencies buy what goods and services, how to find contacts in government and how to position your company for government sales.
The first step is to find information to decide if the effort to develop a government marketing plan has sufficient potential to be worth it. Without this preliminary research you may miss great opportunities by being lost in the process or spend valuable time and other resources to find out that government sales are not for you. Some simple and straightforward research can go a long way in making an informed decision.