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LinkedIn to Grow Your Business

Running your own business can be challenging. There are so many components to consider from staffing, to marketing, and all the minutiae in between. It can get overwhelming. That’s why we love LinkedIn for small business owners. Not only is it a great place to network with other like-minded professionals but it is a forum that can help your business grow. Read on to find out more about how LinkedIn can help your business.

There are two major ways that business leaders can use LinkedIn to help grow their business. One method is the passive method of joining LinkedIn to read what others are posting, hunt for products, services, or employees for your company, and even keep the business page up-to-date. The other is a more active approach where a business owner or leader joins groups, participates in discussions, and posts articles that encourage interaction. Which method you choose is up to you and your business’s needs.

Either way, your business can benefit from your participation on LinkedIn. Here are three ways that LinkedIn can help promote your brand and your status as a businessperson.

Solidify Your Professional Status

Since LinkedIn is a social media platform, it is important that those who hope to make their mark in their chosen industry contribute engaging and interactive content. In this way, professionals can “show what they know.” For example, if your field of expertise is in marketing, your business profile and content on LinkedIn can showcase your successes through posts, blogs, and sharing articles. LinkedIn is a great place to illustrate to others in your field that you are an innovator or, at the very least, a business leader who is on-the-rise.

Connecting With Other Professionals

LinkedIn is the perfect social media platform to expand your business circle. LinkedIn hosts thousands of online groups, enabling professionals to network within their respective niches. Participate, add content, exchange information, and engage with others who are in your field or who are vendors that help support your type of business.

Give and Get Endorsements and Testimonials

LinkedIn enables your peers to endorse your skills and write up recommendations, and you can do the same for them. People who are searching for networking connections or job candidates will take these recommendations into consideration.

If trying these methods is not your thing, you may still want to consider trying LinkedIn advertising. Paid advertising on LinkedIn is still a relative bargain and can get your business in front of your market quickly.

If you are interested in joining LinkedIn or expanding your reach, get started on LinkedIn by finding out how LinkedIn works, creating a LinkedIn login, and if you’re not already a member create a great LinkedIn profile that focuses on growing business. Contact the Enterprise Center page for help getting started.

Impress Your Investors with your Business Plan 

In order for any business to grow and evolve, it needs financing. For some, that means taking out loans through traditional banking institutions while, for others, it means finding investors to support your company. But how do you get those investors? One way to gain them is to impress them with your business plan which includes finding customers, improving your service or product, and growing the business over the course of several years. 

Entrepreneurs around the nation are always on the hunt for investors for their business. According to HackerNoon, “Searching for an investor is not easy, especially when there are high chances that your idea might get turned down. Looking to raise funds is an entrepreneur’s version of taking a job interview where you need to say the right things at the right time.”

The Role of the Business Plan 

A business plan is a written description of your business’s future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. Most business plans are written to not only impress investors but also to provide direction to a young business hoping to be successful. The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) suggests having the following categories:

  • Executive summary – a snapshot of your business
  • Company description – describes what you do
  • Market analysis – research on your industry, market and competitors
  • Organization and management – your business and management structure
  • Service or product – the products or services you’re offering
  • Marketing and sales – how you’ll market your business and your sales strategy
  • Funding request – how much money you’ll need for the next 3 to 5 years
  • Financial projections – supply information like balance sheets
  • Appendix – an optional section that includes résumés and permits

These categories will be able to tell your potential investors a lot about who you are as an entrepreneur and what your company will look like in action. The more concise and consistent you can be in this plan the more you will reassure investors that you have a well-thought out plan for your business, its services and/or products. 

In order to let investors know that you have done your due diligence in researching your field, be sure to include charts and graphs that make it easier for investors to grasp the projected evolution of your business financials. In addition, you will want to demonstrate that your projections are achievable and not just a pipe dream.

Investors like to know that every conceivable issue has been hashed out, so be sure to include possible challenges and how you will overcome each one. Look ahead a few months into your company, a year and then several years to find potential obstacles. That means you will need to be as honest as possible in revealing what you see as your potential strengths and weaknesses as you start your business. 

Do you need help writing your business plan or finding ways to impress your investors? Check out our workshop on Creating a Business Plan that is Investor Ready or Understanding your Business Financials

 

The Benefits of CEO Groups

We have all heard the old cliche that, “it’s lonely at the top.” It really is an accurate portrayal of life for most CEOs. Not only can executive officer feel lonely in their specific business, but they may also be in need of peer relationships that bring with it sharing of business acumen, professional experience, and insights that can help grow and mold a successful business. The roles of executives today have never been more daunting or fraught with disruptions. Let’s take a look at how joining a peer group of other CEOs can help.

Having a leadership resource can be just the solution for executives who need to make a connection, want to grow their company, and often don’t have the time during the regular business day to make those connections organically. Joining a peer group can be the answer for several reasons.

CEO Groups Serve as a Sounding Board

During the course of a typical work day, most executives are busy handling day-to-day operations. There is not often the opportunity to call a friend in a similar circumstance to talk about future business questions or concerns. The CEO groups run by the Enterprise Center are a great chance for business leaders to communicate with other business leaders. Peers can act as a sounding board for ideas where CEOs are able to confidentially get feedback from people in similar positions. Other business leaders can add to their experiences and warn of potential pitfalls. The conversations can be incredibly valuable and may even help move your company forward.

 

CEO Groups Can Help with Scaling

One of the more difficult aspects of leading a business is learning how to scale. Oftentimes, CEOs do not have peers that can help them learn how to grow a business by getting more out of the people and resources or by employing better systems and methodologies. A peer group of other CEOs can provide insider access to insights learned from others’ experiences.

 

CEO Groups Can Help with the Big Picture

Often, business leaders do not take the time to plan for what lies ahead. This is especially true for small and medium-sized businesses that are still evolving and finding their niche. Peer groups of other business leaders can be a great chance to plan, organize, and take a look at the bigger picture. Being a part of an executive group means that monthly you will hear about other businesses’ successes and setbacks that can give you a sense of where your company may be heading. It is almost like taking a look into the future when hearing about where other executives are in their journey.

 

CEO Groups Can Provide Support, a Sense of Belonging, and a Little Bit of Fun

Joining one of the Enterprise Center’s three CEO groups can give the support that many executives need – even if it is once a month. These peer groups can not only be substantive in that they allow for professional support but also can spark humor, fun, and a sense of belonging to a group that can help in what can only be described as one of the more challenging positions in business.

Are you interested in joining one of our CEO Groups? Check out the programs page on our website and register now.

 

Creating a Useful Business Plan

If you hear the words “business plan” and immediately think, “Ho-Hum, boring” then your business plan is being done wrong. A business plan is a vital part of your company and it should live in the daily operations of your business as well as guide you when there are setbacks or hurdles to overcome.

This living document can be an integral part of your company and keep you on track for years to come. That means regular reviews of the document and how your company needs to adjust, or it needs to be changed.

The Small Business Association (SBA) recommends that a business plan include the following areas:

  • Executive summary – a snapshot of your business
  • Company description – describes what you do
  • Market analysis – research on your industry, market, and competitors
  • Organization and management – your business and management structure
  • Service or product – the products or services you’re offering
  • Marketing and sales – how you’ll market your business and your sales strategy
  • Funding request – how much money you’ll need for the next 3 to 5 years
  • Financial projections – supply information like balance sheets
  • Appendix – an optional section that includes resumes and permits

Now that you know the categories, how do you go about drafting a business plan? Our first suggestion is to NOT do it in a vacuum. Talk to other people who are in your field, including accountants, financial advisors, potential clients, trusted advisors, and anyone who will listen. The more you learn and research, the better off you will be with understanding how your business will come together. Here are three simple things to keep you focused as you write your business plan.

Keep it Simple and Straightforward

First of all, no one has the time or energy to read hundreds of pages of your business plan. A lengthy plan also makes it pretty unlikely that you will review it annually. Keep it short and simple, and get to the point. Bullets and charts can get your content across easily and make it reader-friendly.

Know Your Audience

As with presentations and sales, it is a good idea to know who your investors and business partners will be. Keep the language simple if your investors do not follow the lingo of your industry. This is especially true if you have a scientific or complex business plan.

Pick the Right Format

Not all businesses have the same needs or information. Choose a format that can bring out the unique aspect of your business. Check out the SBA’s types of plans such as a traditional or lean format that can convert what you need to in an easy to understand manner.

Working on a Business Plan? Check out our 2019 Business Plan Program and Competition Pitch Panel on June 12, 2019, from 8:30 am –  Click here for additional information including eligibility requirements and application.

Bookkeeping for Small Businesses

Who keeps the books for your business? You know the dreaded invoicing, receiving, payables, reconciling, filing, general ledgers, liabilities, budgets, and reports. Many small businesses do not have a dedicated accountant or financial manager to take care of these tasks, which means that, often times, the job falls to a business leader or owner.

Chances are, if you are an entrepreneur, you have some grasp of handling the books and have been doing some aspect of it while your business has been growing. As your business evolves, however, the job of balancing the books and taking care of the bills or payroll gets more complicated.

That’s why Enterprise Center is offering Business Owners and Startups a seminar entitled “Bookkeeping Fundamentals for Small Business.” Every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-9pm, from May 21 to June 6, you can learn the basic steps of setting up and keeping track of your money in a simple, accurate manner that works for you.  

Bookkeeping doesn’t need to be the dreaded chore that keeps your sheltered in your office well into the evening. There are some fantastic apps that can help keep you organized and are fairly intuitive to use. Our advice is to do a bit of research before you download any software, as each app offers something a little different. Your business’s unique needs can be met with one of them.

QuickBooks

QuickBooks is a name that you probably recognize as it is one of the most popular small business accounting software programs out there. People love it because it has multiple tailored versions and top-of-the-line features. QuickBooks is meant for people who are not accounting experts. They put all the information in one, easy-to-use location.

Xero

Xero is great for businesses that are on-the-go and need something a little more mobile. Xero is a mobile app for accounting specifically geared for business leaders who need to do their bookkeeping remotely or while on the road. This is also great in case a client needs a quick update and you want to bring up the numbers on your phone. Xero has served over 1.2 million subscribers around the world.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks is yet another top accounting software that specializes in small business accounting. That means that it is geared for your company in mind, not the larger corporations. Each of the three versions of FreshBooks: Lite, Plus, and Premium, is tailored toward the specific needs of small businesses within a wide range of sizes and structures.

Have questions about keeping the books for your company or need a change in the app that you are currently using? Check out our seminar “Bookkeeping Fundamentals for Small Business” and register today.

 

Getting Real about Goal Setting

Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson

 

At the end of every fiscal year, do you find that you are just short of the goals that you so neatly created months ago? Or do you find that your business team took a left turn and went way off course and have not revisited the goals since the last time they created them? These are two extremely common problems when creating goals for your business.

Every business owner knows that creating and sticking to goals are what drive a business. Without goals, it’s difficult to identify ways you can grow, develop, and move toward continued success. Sometimes, however, when it comes to goal setting, it is easier to take a look at the mistakes that are common rather than the other way around.

Let’s take a look at a common personal goal that thousands of us make every New Year’s Eve and see how we can make it better. Many of us make it a goal or resolution to lose weight every year. While this is a wonderful goal that more of us should attempt, there is something wrong with the goal. Do you know what the mistake is?

The goal of losing weight is too broad. Most business owners make similar mistakes. Goals should be: achievable, measurable, and specific. Let’s rewrite the weight loss goal and see how we can improve it.

How about we change it to, “I will lose 15 pounds within three months.” Or, “I will lose at least two inches off my waist.” Or, “I will be down a dress size,” in the same time frame. Each of these is measurable, achievable, and specific.

Business owners should do the same thing when creating sales goals or any other kind of goal depending upon your field or industry. Each goal should be narrow in scope, have a time frame, and have a way to measure whether the goal has been reached.

Many business leaders use the SMART business model for goal setting. What are your biggest mistakes when setting goals? Do you get overwhelmed with the scope of a project? Do you make the goals too broad? There are a million mistakes that can be made. If you need help, you may want to attend one of our seminars on Setting and Achieving Transformative Goals.

 

Common Mistakes of New Business Leaders

Starting a business can be a huge undertaking that involves planning, money and exceptional leadership skills. Even rookies with deep pockets and amazing entrepreneur skills can make some common mistakes that can put a wrinkle in any well-laid plans. Learn from other entrepreneurs and their first-timer mistakes. Here is a quick guide of common mistakes to avoid as you set out on your new business adventure.

  • Keep an Eye on Finances – Watching the bank balance can be nerve wracking but is in your best interest. Always have your finances updated and keep a regular check on your money owed and money earned. Cataloguing each can save you lots of heartache later. Knowing your cash flow will help you keep your mind on the ultimate goal of your company.
  • Making Poor Hiring Decisions – Your team is one of your more important assets at your company. One bad hire can mean your business downfall. Hire for skill, talent and intelligence rather than convenience or pay scale.
  • Poor Management – There is a balancing act between laissez-faire managing and micromanaging your company. Learn to balance by delegating and relying on experienced managers.
  • Failing to do Research – New business leaders need to be aware of the changing market, sales, and the ins and outs of your competitors by researching completely. A dedicated development team can keep you up-to-date if you have the wallet for a team member who can keep you informed.
  • Failing to Create a Business Plan – A great plans need to be changed and adjusted but failing to start with a goal and steps in the process can be deadly for a new business leader. Always have your eye on the goia whether it is long term or short term.

 

Business Plan Elements

Being an entrepreneur of a small or medium sized business means that you need to have a broad range of skills and the right people on your team to make a successful run at starting your own company. Part of the success in the first few years of any new business can be tied back to the details and pre-planning of the main elements of a business plan.  Here are the critical main elements that every business plan should have as well as some tips to get you started on the right foot.

According to Entrepreneur Online, there are seven key parts to any business plan. Each part is fairly complex and needs to be planned and executed carefully.

  • Executive Summary – In the words of the entrepreneur, what is this business all about and what is the main product/service that will be offered? Where does this business fit in to the industry? This should be short and to the point in very professional language. Within this summary should be: a description of the business concept and an overview of the financials that relate to the company. Include an outlook of major achievements and goals for the first year(s).
  • Company Description – Start by describing the industry that you are joining and how your company will fit into or make its mark on that industry. Be sure to include in the description the structure of the company as well as the legal form that it will take. Give specifics of how your company will have the edge over its competitors.
  • Products/Services– In this section, describe in detail your service or product. Emphasize how your product or service is unique. Show how your company will do or sell things in its own way and differentiate from competitors.
  • Market Analysis-This section should illustrate your knowledge about the particular industry your business is in. Explain your target audience and how pricing, distribution and marketing strategies will make your company profitable within a competitive environment.
  • Strategy and Implementation – Explain your marketing strategy from traditional print and store front strategies to the complex strategies that come with your website, social media and paid advertising.
  • Organization and Management Team – Describe in detail how your company will be structured. Who are the key members of the team and who will be responsible for what?  Allow for evolution of this section as things may change throughout the growth and success of the company.
  • Financial Plan and Projections – Develop financial projections that look one year, three years and five years into the future.  This section will probably need the most revision as the industry and market fluctuates.

Patents Basics

Inspiration is a wonderful thing. It has led to inventions and progress in so many fields. Do you have an idea for your business and want to get the idea or innovation patented? The process for filing for a patent can get a bit tedious so, do your homework and understand what issues may lie ahead of you. We also suggest discussing your case with a patent attorney.

According to Entreprenuership.org a patent grants inventors the right to exclude others from making, using, selling (or offering to sell) or importing their inventions throughout the United States for a limited period of time. To obtain a patent, the inventor submits his or her application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (known as the “USPTO”).

There are three main types of patents:

  1. Utility Patents –  Almost any product, process, or ornamental design that is new, useful, and non-obvious is patentable. What we normally think of as a patent is known as a “utility” patent, because it covers the usefulness of a product—the way it operates, what it produces, what it does, etc.

  2. Design Patents- Design patents protect the ornamental design or appearance of an article (i.e., they do not protect aspects of a product that are functional). A few examples of designs that may be protected by design patents include the ornamental aspects of furniture, packaging, shoes, game boards, and fonts.

  3. Plant Patents (used less frequently) are for certain new varieties of plants that have been asexually reproduced, for a term of 17 years.

As a business owner, you will most likely be filing for a utility or design patent. The registration process includes: a clear and concise description of the company’s declaration that it is the original and sole inventor, written drawings (where necessary) of the invention, filing fees; and, one or more of the company’s “claims” of exclusivity. Be sure to be very specific in your documentation as you must prove that you are the first to do something or make something like this. The United States Patent Office has a complete list of patent laws and resources. Please,  follow the link above. 

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

REGISTER NOW!