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Small Business Tips: Getting Started

Make It Happen

Small businesses make a big impact in their communities - providing jobs, spending advertising dollars locally, supporting other small businesses and boosting their local economy.  We value our partnerships with small businesses and hope to help other entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams of starting their own business. Here’s some advice from our Vice President in Commercial Lending, David Barber, to help your business get started and grow!

Get to work

Conduct plenty of research before getting started. Get involved with your local chamber of commerce and explore whatever programs might be offered in your area that provide related assistance, such as SCORE. SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a group made up of individuals with expert knowledge on what it takes to run a business and can help with things like getting established, building plans and budgets, networking and more. Be sure to explore and expand your own networking group -- you can never have too much good advice!

Get Planning

Having a stellar idea and vision is a start, but in order to get anywhere past that, you have to develop a plan. Finding out what types of licensing you need, what government laws and regulations may be involved, what barriers to entry may exist in your desired market, how and where to find necessities like suppliers, employees, a building (consider if you even need one when first starting out), etc., are some of the basic steps when starting a business.

“Always be thinking at least 5 years forward – believe it or not, it’s a time frame that goes by much quicker than you think” – Barber

 

A strategic business plan should include (but not be limited to) the following:

  • Target audience
  • What sales methods will be used (physical, online, etc.)
  • Barriers to entry (e.g. getting a drug approved by the FDA)
  • Plans for company location, potential suppliers, anticipated income, etc.
  • Map out budget
  • Outline goals for various timelines (e.g. short-term, mid-range, and long-term)

Get virtual

In a world where an online presence is everything, keeping up with technology isn’t an option anymore if you want your business to succeed. Get an early start on developing profiles on various social media platforms that best fit your company, as this will help widen your audience while building and strengthening your network of consumers, community members, suppliers, mentors, and more. Create content early on so you aren’t scrambling at the last moment to think of something, and take advantage of platforms like Hootsuite that help you to keep various social media networks managed and organized.

Get prepared (for both the best AND the worst)

Before you’re quick to submit that two-week’s notice at your current job and start planning for your first big CEO-Celebration party, realize that statistics don’t lie – after the first 5 years, only about 50% of startup businesses continue, according to sba.gov. You have to be committed and in it for the long haul. Stay in your current job and get your business going in your time off, that way you don’t burn bridges in case things don’t work out right away. Remember that it’s better to have guaranteed income than to rely on a paycheck that may never come. You can’t reach $1,000, $10,000, or even $1,000,000 without earning that first $1!

“You set your plans in sand, and your goals in concrete.” – Barber

 

Get financially and educationally established

There are tons of financial options available for those wishing to develop or expand a business. Many small businesses started with credit cards to help with expenses and building/improving credit. Check to see if your area has any start-up innovative organizations that offer entrepreneurial assistance. As an aspiring owner, there’s always more to learn, so get enrolled in a class or two at a local college or look into online business/managerial education programs.

Get involved

Being socially involved is key! Networking can help with yielding investors, gaining suppliers, establishing your company among competitors, or even just spreading the buzz about your budding business! Put the “work” in “network” and attend/sponsor community events, tune into local business happenings, and be sure to stay involved even after you’ve been established. Keep in mind that it’s not just about who you know, but who they know as well. Barber mentioned that the average person knows about 2,000 people (at least as acquaintances), so it’s not hard to see how quickly those connections can multiply. Talk about an audience!

Get (and stay) excited!

After all, you’re on the path to making a dream come true! Working towards and eventually getting to your goals is a rewarding process – just remember not to give up on them! It’s the bad days that make the good ones so special, and if you keep your heart and mind set on the objective while maintaining a positive attitude, you’ll find the good will eventually outweigh the bad. Don’t look at failure as an end, but instead as a way to adapt and improve. Even business owners of some of the most well-known companies surviving and thriving today have filed for bankruptcy (including Walt Disney). Remember, bumps in the road are just learning opportunities!

 

Alachua, Marion & Leon County Resources

Progress Park

Progress Park is a productive setting for bioscience, tech and other companies attracted to its site in North Central Florida. This private Park has easy access to the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville and the Gainesville Regional Airport. It is centrally located two hours from Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

Innovation Hub at the University of Florida

The Innovation Hub is an elite program of startups that share resources and participate in the many programs and events available only to applicants selected for admission with two tracks (Resident Startups and Affiliate Startups).

Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce

The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce provides members with opportunities for visibility, education, networking and credibility. The Gainesville Chamber provides more than 1,300 companies with event and business publicity/promotion, workshops, participation in networking events and more.

Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership

The Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) is an organization that promotes businesses and represents the needs of businesses. CEP will ensure that the needs of our partners, in particular small business, are met through a selection of business services and advocacy.

Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce

The vision of the Chamber is to be the premier voice for business and drive high impact economic development. Its mission is to be the catalyst for local business growth with the goal of providing a positive return on investment for the members and to retain and expand the local business community.

 

Regional/Other Resources

SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)

SCORE's mentors, comprised of active and retired business men and women, provide clients with free and confidential business counseling, mentoring, networking opportunities and more. Counseling can be conducted at one of many convenient locations across our region. SCORE is headquartered in Gainesville with a branch in Lake City/Suwannee Valley and serves Alachua, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, Dixie, Columbia, and Suwannee Counties in north-central Florida.

FloridaBusinessLicense.org

Find useful, up-to-date, and important information regarding business. Whether you need to know how to start a business or company, register a business, obtain occupational licenses, business licenses, or pay corporate taxes, the site is made to assist you with finding the information you want.

CAMPUS USA Credit Union Business Loan Options

  • Credit Cards
  • Line of Credit
  • Mortgages
  • Vehicle and Equipment Loans

If you have any questions regarding CAMPUS business loans contact our Business Development Team at 800-367-6440 ext. 10100, or email _businessdevelopment@campuscu.com.

 

 

Blog post sources (cited in post):

https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/Business-Survival.pdf

http://calumbrannan.com/2010/08/inside-entrepreneurship-success-after-bankruptcy/

 


By Campus USA at 19 Oct 2017, 10:53 AM

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