By Kevin Leahy, Executive Director CEDR & CCC SBDC
At our Clatsop Community College Small Business Development Center, our core competency and priority is one on one business advising (always FREE and CONFIDENTIAL). We meet with hundreds of local businesses of all sizes, and one common challenge for many of these businesses are the owners/managers spending all of their time working "IN" their business, dealing with the daily grind, issues and priorities, reacting to what comes at the moment, versus strategically working "ON" their business with a long-term vision and plans for increased revenue, profits and key employee retention and growth.
Our business advisors are available to sit with the business client at any stage of the business life cycle, from start-up, to growth, to diversification, to selling the business, succession to the next generation and so on. Business clients sometimes don't know how to ask for help, or what tools are available to them from us. In alphabetical order, here are some critical elements for business success we work with our business clients on an ongoing basis:
- ACCESS TO CAPITAL/FINANCING (applying for a loan, traditional and non-traditional financing, building equity)
- BUSINESS ACCOUNTING/BUDGETS/QUICKBOOKS
- BUSINESS PLANS/"LIVE PLAN" #1 BUSINESS PLAN SOFTWARE IN THE COUNTRY
- BUYING AND SELLING A BUSINESS
- CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT
- CUSTOMER SERVICE
- eCOMMERCE (using the Internet to do business)
- GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING (doing business with local, state or federal government)
- GROWING, DIVERSIFYING OR REINVENTING A BUSINESS
- HUMAN RESOURCES/MANAGING EMPLOYEES
- INTERNATIONAL TRADE
- MANAGING A BUSINESS
- MARKETING AND SALES
- MARKET RESEARCH
- NEGOTIATING A LEASE
- SOCIAL MEDIA (Facebook, Email marketing, Twitter, Pinterest, etc :)
- START-UP ASSISTANCE. (How to start up a small business)
- SUCCESSION PLANNING (Passing on or selling a business to the next generation or new owners)
- TECHNOLOGY TOOLS/SHORTCUTS
- WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT/ANALYSIS
Many of these terms may be familiar to you, but some may not, as well. At our first advising session, we come to your business, or you can come to our offices located on campus at Clatsop Community College in Astoria or Seaside. We review a needs "checklist" with you, and prioritize with you the step by step strategy to address the needs of your business. In some cases, a business may only want to review a few topics in the advising session, like marketing, social media or human resources. In most cases, a more comprehensive approach is best, focusing on creating a business plan, working on cash flow and financial planning, and all elements of running a business. Note that each business is unique, and we work to customize the plan for your business.
A major focus for CEDR in 2015 is to work with businesses that have 10-99 employee s, in addition to small businesses with 5 or less employees. In a region of our size, these are considered larger employers.
One foundation of our advising program is "Live Plan", an on-line business plan program that we can provide to our clients at a discounted rate for up to six months. The program includes examples of hundreds of real life business plans, tutorials on how to best utilize the tools given, and an opportunity to work on-line, step by step with your business advisor. The business plan is mandatory for any business looking for financing and accessing capital for their business, and this program de-mystifies the business plan process in easy to understand terminology.
We also hold training workshops throughout the year in Astoria and Seaside. In 2014, we held 40 workshops that included Microsoft Excel, Word, Publisher, Power Point, QuickBooks training, Social Media, Access to Capital, Email marketing, getting certified to do business with the government, and much more.
For 2015, we will continue with these core workshops, with an added emphasis on QuickBooks and Succession planning for family owned businesses. If you are not on our email list, it is quick and easy to get on the list for workshop and training notification. Simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added, or call us at 503-338-2402, and Penny will be happy to add you to the distribution list.
Make 2015 the year where you take control of your business. Start here. Start now. Don't procrastinate. We have been in your shoes.