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Train Yourself for Small Business Success

There are many things to know about building a successful small business—from marketing and tax issues, to technology, finance, human resources management and more. Most entrepreneurs don’t have expertise in all of those areas. That’s why individuals interested in starting or expanding a business have been tapping into training programs at a record pace.

For many business owners, learning opportunities and training programs are becoming vital steps to planning, launching and growing a business. During one recent 12-month period, a record 2.5 million people sought help from one of many U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) training and assistance programs.

Seeking help is simply smart. No business owner can be adept at every aspect of operating successfully. Plus, conditions change, so keeping yourself informed is vital to long-term success.

The single most popular program in America is probably the SBA Small Business Training Network/E-Business Institute, which registers nearly a million users at its Web site each year. The Small Business Training Network is a Web-based conglomerate that can link you to online courses, workshops, publications, learning tools, information resources and access to electronic counseling and other types of technical help. For details on the Small Business Training Network, go to the main SBA Web site at www.sba.gov and click on “Training.”

Free online courses are offered on about 75 topics in areas such as business startup, growing your business, home-based business and re-engineering your skills. Sample titles include: Growth Strategies; Analyzing Profitability; Building Your Brand; and, Understanding Business Insurance.

Local SBA-sponsored training events are offered nationwide. These range from breakfast talks on local economic conditions, to brown-bag networking lunches, loan seminars, startup workshops and free business assessments. Click your state on the Web site map for a calendar listing dates and event details in your area. In addition, dozens of top colleges and universities offer business training courses you can take online. Most of these require a fee.

The Cuesta College Small Business Development Center offers a variety of business workshops on a regular basis.  The San Luis Obispo Economic Vitality Corporation offers a business courses as well.  You can inquire about the available EVC training by e-mail.  In addition, the Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and CalPoly in San Luis Obispo offers full curricula of business courses.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Manage and Track Your Time for Success

Time can be a small business owner’s best friend, or worst enemy. It all depends on how you use it. There just never seem to be enough hours in the day to get things done. As a business operator, time is extremely valuable to business owners—especially if you bill for time. Wasting time can be extremely harmful to your bottom line.

To operate efficiently, your business may need systems for managing time and keeping track of who’s working on what and for how long.

Most successful small business owners are also successful time managers. And they tend to share certain traits and strategies. One of the most basic time management devices ever invented is the simple “To-Do” list. Each day, jot down all of the things that need to get done, all on one sheet of paper.

You can also number or check the ones that are highest priority “must-do” items. As tasks are completed, cross them off. This can help you focus on getting them done one at a time, and also gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Delegating more work can also help ease your time crunch. Many business owners accustomed to “doing it all” find this exceedingly difficult. But even if you are a sole operator, you can pass off tasks to others, via outsourcing, for example, to free up time for yourself.

Periodically analyze how time is spent at your business—and not just your time, but everyone’s. Divide the day into small time blocks and record what you, or others, were doing in each block. Now compare this real use of time to your goals, expectations and mission priorities. If they do not align, you’ll need to take action. One step might be to set clearer time-management goals for yourself and your employees.

Banish procrastination from your place of business. Growing, successful businesses don’t put things off. Even a simple “no” response to something on your to-do list can extinguish that item and let you move on.

A variety of technology solutions are also helping small businesses track and manage time. For example, Workarea.com is an Internet-based time tracking system that can provide billing information to the second.  The system includes a time clock, time sheet, expense tracking, address book and the ability to access it all via cell phone or PDA.

The TimeClock Plus Small Business Edition, www.timeclockplus.com, lets you turn any PC into a time clock.  Employees can sign in or out with the keyboard or mouse, and easily allocate hours and costs to specific jobs. And TimeTiger.com is a computer-based to-do list that shows all the items you could be working on.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Smooth Out Your Seasonal Sales Bumps

If you operate a seasonal business and are starting to wonder if the uneven revenue streams and stress-filled crunch times are worth all the hassle, take heart. Millions of small businesses post the bulk of their annual sales during a short season or cycle.

For many retailers the holidays are boom time. Fitness centers soar in January and sag with the summer exodus. Some businesses sell more when the weather warms, the tax or wedding season arrives or tourists travel.

Others thrive on cold or times when kids are in school. No matter what type of seasonal business it is, the common thread is that you must succeed in a short time. Issues such as cash flow, burnout and seasonal help are magnified.

To help smooth the bumps it will be important to create a tight budget and stick to it throughout the year. Create a special cash reserve account for use only in leaner months. Set money aside whenever you can. Creating a cash flow forecast will help you identify patterns and see what you are up against. Include a worst-case plan to anticipate any nasty shocks.

Operating a seasonal business also requires that you plan and use your time more efficiently than other business owners. Some periods may call for only 25-hour workweeks, while others go far beyond that. To make sure everything gets done and also avoid burnout, you’ll need to schedule your time carefully.

Put slower times to good use by using them to update your Web site, catch up on maintenance, strengthen customer relationships or write marketing plans. You may want to employ only a small core of permanent workers and use temps or interns to fill in. Consider offering off-season sales or rates, and look for ways to generate revenue during quieter periods.

CAPlines seasonal lines of credit are SBA-guaranteed, short-term loans that help small businesses survive sales ups and downs due to seasonal changes. To qualify, your business must have established a definite pattern of seasonal activity. You’ll find complete details and information on these credit lines in the Special Purpose Loan Programs section at www.sba.gov/financing.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Plan Ahead to Grow Your Business Tomorrow

Achieving steady, sustainable growth in a small business is one of today’s more difficult challenges. General economic ups and downs get in the way, as do regional issues, government policies, tax laws—and even the weather.

But it also may be your internal approach to generating and managing growth that’s producing slower sales than you expected, even in the face of what seem to be bright opportunities. Your approach to fostering growth may simply be too hit-and-miss. Perhaps you had a detailed business plan when you first started, but what type of plan does your small business have now for moving into the future?

The everyday marketplace tends to be a chaotic universe where things rarely go according to your original design. A growth plan that acts like an internal compass can be a helpful tool.

Start with your day-to-day actions. If you want your business to grow, that should be the focal point of everything you do. Gather the financial details about what’s happening internally. Then put your plan in writing.  It does not need to be lengthy and ultra-detailed. Just the basic points will do. For example, how has your business done in fulfilling your original mission? Did you start with a bang only to see things flatten out? Perhaps you aren’t delivering what you first promised to your customers. Fix any problems or shortfalls quickly.

Keeping up with changes in your marketplace is crucial, so you might have to conduct some new research to stay up to date.  This doesn’t have to be formal research. You might start with a simple customer survey, for example, or check for available research online. Make adjustments as needed in your approach.

Communicate your growth vision to others involved with your business, including outside vendors and contractors as well as partners, investors and employees. Don’t just dream—delegate specific actions to reach those goals.

Find out what objections customers are raising to your sales effort—why they have purchased or declined your product or service. Adjust your sales process to place greater emphasis on closing.

Two helpful books on small business growth planning are Strategic Planning for Small Business Made Easy for $19.95, the latest in the “Made Easy” series from Entrepreneur Press, and The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth for $18.95 by small business growth expert Steven S. Little.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Build Your Business Partnerships Carefully

In the early stages of forming or building a business, you may face the choice of whether or not to bring in a partner. And that may worry you, since you’ve probably heard stories about business partners who could not get along and ended up fighting for control of the company.

Studies show that two heads may be better than one. Businesses launched by partners, rather than solo entrepreneurs, have a better chance of really taking off, according to research by Marquette University’s Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship.  Their study found that partners, not lone-wolf entrepreneurs, started more than 90 percent of America’s fastest growing companies.

Partners can share responsibilities and often bring different skills and knowledge to the business. One partner may be great with numbers and planning, while the other is a whiz at marketing and sales. Combining these elements can open more doors and help the business realize more opportunities more quickly than it could with only one person involved.

But conflicts between partners waste time and money, erode focus and strategic direction, cause emotional and financial pain and destroy businesses and reputations, says George Gage, a business mediator and partnership expert with BMC Associates in Washington, DC.  Business schools rarely teach successful partnering techniques, and without proper preparation, partnerships are often doomed, says Gage, who has worked with many warring partners.

Gage, who is also author of The Partnership Charter: How to Start Out Right With Your New Business Partnership (or fix The One You’re In), lists seven cautions that would-be and existing partners should consider:

  1. If you think you are not “partner material,” don’t take the partner path.

  2. Use extreme caution when selecting a partner.

  3. If you don’t really need a partner, don’t get one.

  4. If it doesn’t feel good before you start, follow your gut and don’t do it.

  5. Don’t be fooled into thinking that legal agreements and documents will keep you out of trouble with one another.

  6. If you currently have a partner, and it does not feel like a positive working relationship, don’t just ignore it. Try to fix things.

  7. If there are unanswered questions or vague boundaries and responsibilities with current partners, address these issues while you are still getting along.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Eliminate Office Clutter for Better Results

Office clutter tends to grow like weeds or mold. But it’s not just damaging to your business aesthetics. Excessive clutter makes your business less productive and less profitable. Maybe organizing isn’t your strong point, but eliminating clutter and getting your business better organized should still be a high priority, especially if things are starting to get out of hand.

Despite the operating efficiencies that technology has brought to businesses large and small, the need for paper lives on. Chris Perrow is a professional organizer who deals daily with the negative impact that office clutter has on small companies.

According to Perrow, most business owners are on information overload, working long hours without thinking much about simple productivity issues of how and why things get done. “When they stop to analyze the situation, they often find much could be delegated, eliminated or done at a more efficient time,” she says.

The key to eliminating clutter and improving results through greater organization is to have a system in place to keep things organized. Business owners often keep things they don’t need on the theory that “I may need this some day.”

Carol Halsey, an organizing coach based in Wilsonville, OR, suggests a five-step approach to dealing with office paperwork that she calls DRAFT, for Discard, Refer, Act, File and Table.

  1. Discard — If it’s something you’ll never retrieve again, trash it, don’t file it. Your files should be a “resource holding tank,” not a dead storage place.

  2. Refer — If someone else needs the information or can handle it for you, pass it along.

  3. Act — If it requires action by you, do it now. It’s inefficient to delay and handle the paper a second or third time.

  4. File — If it’s important and you will truly need it later, file it in a proper filing system that allows you to find things quickly.

  5. Table — If it’s something you’ll need in the near future (but not today), place it in a simple follow-up system for easy, quick access.

Better efficiency is something every business owner can achieve. Help is available from the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), a membership group of 2,700 organizing consultants, trainers, authors and product manufacturers. The Web site’s Automated Referral Program can help you find an organizing specialist in dozens of topics areas such as home, medical or legal offices. Visit the site at www.napo.net. Organize Your Office by Ronni Eisenberg, File…Don’t Pile by Pat Dorff and the Office Clutter Cure by Don Aslett are three helpful and inexpensive books for under $10 each through Amazon.com.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Make Ethics Count

In these days of corporate scandals and fiscal misdeeds, small business owners seem to know something that their big corporate counterparts do not: ethics count. Integrity and reputation are everything. But these things are sometimes taken for granted, and employees might stumble from time to time with a poor ethical choice that can damage your reputation.

Putting your business through an ethical refresher course might be a good idea. Two-thirds of small business owners say they are more concerned about ethical business practices today than in the past, according to a survey by the management consulting firm George S. May International. “It may be difficult to measure the benefit of ethical actions to your bottom line,” says Israel Kushnir, president of May International. “But a lack of ethics will definitely have a negative impact on a small business.”

Now under the public spotlight, big companies are rushing to beef up their formal codes of ethics, form special ethics departments and provide their people with ethics training. Although formal ethics training is rare at small companies, business owners always have recognized the value of their reputation and are looking for new or better ways to define their values for employees and customers. Some are putting ethics policies on paper while others are simply raising the issue more often in the workplace.

The Josephson Institute of Ethics, www.josephsoninstitute.org, is a “public-benefit, nonpartisan, nonprofit” organization that helps advance ethical decision-making.  Founder Michael Josephson’s daily radio commentary on ethics and character-building runs on stations across the country and his “Character Counts” initiative has been adopted by schools and youth groups nationwide.

The group’s Web site has a helpful step-by-step guide to making ethical decisions, available free. The Institute also conducts Ethics in the Workplace training seminars and has a catalog of publications, videos, CDs, tapes, banners and other ethics awareness products you can buy.

The Ethics Resource Center (ERC) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that offers informational products and services, including help creating a code of conduct, an ethics effectiveness test, a business ethics Q&A and other items. ERC also conducts a National Business Ethics Survey annually. Visit www.ethics.org.

Two popular books on business ethics are The Power of Ethical Management by Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale, and Street-Smart Ethics: Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul by Clinton McLemore.  Both are available at Amazon.com.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Find More Freelance Work

Freelancer, sole operator, independent contractor and free agent are all terms for a similar type of small business operator with a key trait in common—all are constantly looking for new gigs to fill their time and pay the bills. For these business owners, the Internet has become a boon to finding work. Web sites that play matchmaker between employers and freelancers have taken the art of project hunting to new levels.

To be successful as a free agent operator, you need to hone your project-finding skills and improve your marketing, just like any small business. Two keys to being successful at this are consistency and dedication. Most independent contractors already know that the search for work is constant, so you’ll enjoy it more if you develop a passion for finding the next big project.

To build repeat business, you also need to be a stickler for client satisfaction. Always stand behind your work and try to gauge client expectations at every step, and then exceed them.

Also recognize that building your personal brand is important. As a sole operator, your brand is you, so focus on leveraging your special knowledge, style or expertise. But don’t lock yourself in to tightly. The most successful independent contractors try to build new skills and leverage existing ones to higher price levels.

Project sites for freelancers vary in their approach. Some work on a bid system where employers post projects and freelancers bid on the work.  These sites will likely take a cut of your proceeds. Others are more like a job board where projects are posted and you respond with a pitch letter and resume directly to the employer. Some sites to visit include Guru.com, Sologig.com and Elance.com, which cover all industries and areas, as well as Aquent.com, which specializes in the fields of marketing and creative services.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Develop Leadership Skills to Secure Your Small Business Success

Successful business owners shine at most aspects of operating their business. Usually they’re great at planning, or marketing, or creative thinking or crunching numbers, or knowing just how to satisfy customers. But when it comes to leading, managing and motivating others involved in the business, whether employees, outside sales reps or key partners, they sometimes fall short.

One reason is widespread confusion about the difference between “managing” and “leading.” Leadership experts say they are two very different roles, even though most small business owners consider them the same.

“Managing” implies structure, control, rules, deadlines and efficiency, says Ken Blanchard, best-selling author of The One Minute Manager. But according to Blanchard, “leadership” is nearly the opposite of “management.” Leading requires actions that are more experimental, unstructured, visionary, flexible and passionate. Managers and leaders think and behave differently.

Blanchard and his partner Drea Zigarmi spent seven years studying how business leaders exert influence and how their values, beliefs and personalities contribute to their success—or failure. Through it all, one finding was clear: A one-size-fits-all style of leadership does not exist.

Owning a business automatically puts you in a position of leadership. Your goal is to engage employees, partners, vendors, investors, independent contractors or other participants in your venture in a course of action that helps achieve a mutually shared vision. But being in a leadership position does not necessarily make you a leader.

Many entrepreneurs turn to management techniques to enlist the minds and muscles of the people they lead, but fail to capture an equally important component—their hearts. If you merely work to focus activities of followers and fail to engage them in a purpose, you won’t likely be seen as a good leader.

“The first step to becoming a better leader is to study yourself and get honest, unfiltered feedback about how you are doing from the people you lead,” says Blanchard. “You cannot effectively lead if you do not know your own values.”

Try combining direction with support. Direction includes setting goals, scheduling, specifying priorities, evaluating results, defining roles and showing how results are to be accomplished. Support includes listening, praising and encouraging, seeking input, sharing information, offering reasons for decisions and helping others to solve problems.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Grow Your Business with Success Thinking

In order to be a successful small business, you have to think and act like a successful business. Sounds simple, perhaps, but many small business owners and startup entrepreneurs forget this basic concept. In the face of financial adversity, they adopt a “can’t do” attitude.

As leader of your business you should spread a message of success to everyone involved, from employees and vendors to customers and prospects. High-performance businesses—both big and small—allow people to take risks, generate new ideas, make mistakes and learn from them.

The most successful entrepreneurs find ways to make successful thinking contagious. One way they do that is by emphasizing long-term potential over short-term thinking. They learn to innovate rather than hesitate, and shun the status quo as they seek to spark new interest and enthusiasm inside the business.

Sure, working productively will help build your business. But generating creativity and passion for what your business does, no matter how seemingly mundane, is a hallmark of a high-performance business. But these don’t need to be grandiose concepts. Simply going out of your way to help a customer in an unusual fashion qualifies.

Emphasize the collective success of your business as a whole, not of any individual person, project or product. Then you can accelerate success by identifying a few profitable activities and making them happen ever more flawlessly and quickly.

Open the lines of communication. Generally, those around you need more information, not less, in order to feel successful. Let people know where you think the business needs to go, the problems it faces and what keeps you up at night. That makes it easier for you to involve them in finding solutions to your biggest challenges. Ask their advice about what you are doing right, what hurts and what needs fixing. That way, everyone has a bigger stake in your success.

Be open to new ideas, even if they sound silly or outlandish. One such idea just might be your “next big thing.”  And reward people for extra effort. Non-cash incentives—like time off or a company lunch—have gained popularity as a means of rewarding employees. But cash bonuses still reign.

And always deliver what you promise. That includes keeping promises to employees and suppliers as well as customers. Integrity fuels the success engine, and it’s tough to recover if you blow it.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Avoid Business Owner Burnout

Choosing to go into business for you is a major decision that usually means a commitment to hard work and long hours.  As you struggle to build your business, however, you also must be careful not to overdo it and succumb to business owner burnout. It’s vital to take some time off to recharge your personal batteries.

But there’s a problem. Many business owners are afraid to leave, even for a short period. They fear that something will go wrong or they’ll miss out on that next big opportunity. With so much to do, how can an entrepreneur ever relax?

According to a survey conducted by American Express, 40 percent of the smallest business owners—those with less than $200,000 in annual revenues—plan no vacation time whatsoever in any given year. And even those who do schedule a break never really get away. One of every three link vacation time to a business trip and half will check in with the office at least once a day, if not several times. 

According to the AmEx survey, these are the vacation-blocking concerns cited most often by business owners:

  • There is no other competent person to leave in charge and others will make the wrong decisions.

  • An important client or customer will not receive appropriate service.

  • The business will miss a new opportunity.

  • An operational breakdown will occur without anyone to solve the problem.

Despite these concerns, you can schedule a refreshing getaway with some careful advance planning. For example, draw up a list of worst-case scenarios and brief those in charge on the possibilities and chief concerns of each customer.

Tell key clients or customers in advance of any extended time away you are planning. Introduce your stand-ins and express your confidence in their ability to handle any issues that may arise. If you never delegate important tasks to others at your business, you can’t expect them to fill your shoes when you take time off. To create a saner schedule for yourself, and achieve a comfort level that good things will happen when you’re not there, learning to delegate responsibilities is vital.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Communicate Clearly With Your Employees

If you have employees, you have communication challenges. This is true in any work environment, but in a small business, it’s a high-stakes proposition, for good employees become central to your business’s profitability.

Much has been made of the art—some call it a discipline—of listening. Listening indeed has a great deal to do with effective communication, but there’s no way around the fact that it’s equally important to be able to say what you mean. You bolster your managerial effectiveness when you are able to communicate

  • Processes and systems for doing a job

  • Constructive feedback

  • Your standards and vision for your business

  • Bad news

Fear of employee turnover may keep a business owner from being direct. He or she becomes so concerned about being tactful and non-threatening that the critical message becomes hopelessly diluted or altogether lost in the sugar-coating of it. Here are seven ideas to help you say what you mean:

  • Be able to articulate in your own mind the reason you need to have a particular discussion. Don’t rely only on allegations and rumors to confront an employee. Collect as many facts as you can first.

  • Understand your own communication style and how you are perceived. Be able to predict how you will react if an employee challenges you or breaks down and how you will get the conversation back on track.

  • If the discussion has to do with an employee’s performance, be specific. Point out examples of the types of behavior you’ve seen and wish the employee to correct. Be equally specific if you can point out positive behavior: good decisions, incidents of excellent customer service, and examples of effective problem-solving.

  • Allow yourself and the employee as much privacy as possible, so that neither of you is distracted or embarrassed by the interest or reactions of others.

  • By asking questions, seek feedback that will indicate whether the employee understands you.

  • Share important news, whether good or bad, with everyone in the company, so employees will know they can bring useful intelligence back to you.

  • Bring the discussion to a true conclusion, with a summary of what was discussed and agreed to, a time frame if appropriate, and when or how you plan to follow up or evaluate the problem or behavior.

To learn more about effective employee communication, contact the SCORE Association "Counselors to America’s Small Business." More than 10,500 volunteer business counselors donate their time to advise and mentor entrepreneurs.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Lay the Groundwork for Introducing a New Product

There’s nothing like a solid new product to boost sales and draw attention to your company. Often, it’s through a new product that addresses a certain need, improves on an existing design, or contains new features that add extra value to the investment. That’s the easy part. The challenge is identifying that product and then integrating it into your business operations.

To find the right product requires research as to its suitability in relation to your current production resources. Set some minimum standards that the new product must meet for you to even consider the venture. Before you invest too much time and effort, find out what the market trends are for products in that niche. Keep in mind that any new product must respond to an identifiable consumer need.

The U.S. Department of Commerce, trade shows and licensing brokers are good sources of information on government-owned and privately-owned patents. Research the range of available products. Then narrow your search to the handful of products that may fit into your marketing and manufacturing mix.

Consider how the new product will affect your operations. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I introduce a new product that would be an add-on to an existing product line?

  • Are there market indications that a particular product is in demand within my general product category?

  • Is there potential to use an existing resource in the production of the product?

  • Can my current manufacturing operation be readily modified to bring a new product to market?

  • Will this new product be targeted to my current customer base, or will I need to target new customers?

Pay particular attention to your physical capabilities within the manufacturing context. You may need to modify existing equipment or purchase new equipment to handle the new product. Also, consider personnel training and the complexity or simplicity in the manufacturing of the new product.

In addition, consider your in-house resources for the storage and shipping of the new product. Can this product be distributed through existing channels? Ideally, you want to incur as little expense and make as few changes to overall operations as possible. Part of your goal is to maximize manufacturing capability and allow the structure of your firm to support the distribution of a new product.

If you would like to discuss new product development, manufacturing reorganization or a new product launch, contact SCORE "Counselors to America’s Small Business."

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Anticipate the Problems and Solutions of Your Small Business

Many entrepreneurs find that the age-old lament, "it’s lonely at the top," is true. As the boss, you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens within your business. That includes solving problems.

Obviously, the best way to avert small business problems is by anticipating them before they occur. Many potential problems can be avoided simply by preparing a written business plan that outlines your business and financial goals for the year and maps your strategy to achieve them. The plan can contain an appendix for you and your management team that focuses on a few issues of concern and planned responses for what would otherwise be unexpected events. You can’t address every business contingency, but you can identify your top 10 concerns or business issues and plan to focus your efforts on them, delegating the least important.

If you already have developed a plan to handle problems that could disrupt your business, you can quickly move from identifying a problem that has occurred (let’s analyze it) to the plan (here’s the plan), to solving it (let’s get to work). Recognizing a business threat early on will save time, money and larger headaches later.

When you identify a likely source of trouble, gather all the information you can to assess its significance in light of possible causes and effects. Make a list of all potential solutions, then rank their feasibility, and continue to collect information and employee input, if appropriate, to arrive at the most logical and effective solution.

Without a well-thought-out and executed plan of action you risk frustration and time you may never recoup. Be proactive in preparing for the unexpected. Open lines of communication with your employees is one of the best ways to forestall problems, particularly if they know they can come to you with bad news as well as good.

When an obstacle gets in the way of your business goals, it’s up to you to figure out how to remove it or find a suitable alternative path. However, while you are responsible for solving business problems, you do not need to face them alone. A great source of help and advice is SCORE "Counselors to America’s Small Business."

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Position Yourself to Make Effective Decisions

Every small business owner has at least one thing in common with every other small business owner: responsibility for making decisions about the business. Some decisions are relatively easy, such as where to buy office supplies. Others are more complicated and have far-reaching consequences, particularly if they involve a problem such as a loss of sales, a drop in profits or aging receivables.

When making decisions, you need to be able to predict with some certainty how today’s choices will affect your business tomorrow. First, pinpoint the nature of the problem you need to solve. What may seem to be an obvious problem may only be a symptom of the real cause. The actual problem may not be the age of your accounts receivables, for example, but rather than you don’t devote enough time to adequately reviewing your financial reports so you can react before a cash crisis emerges. Only by examining the root of the problem can you start to figure out viable solutions.

Once you are confident that you have isolated the problem, write down ideas for solutions and talk to others in your field about other possibilities. Maybe someone you know has overcome a similar problem. Good ideas can come from brainstorming or practically anywhere else and should not be dismissed simply because you are unsure if they will succeed.

Whenever possible, test your solutions on a small scale before deciding on the best approach. There is no magic cure for the myriad of details and time constraints you face as an entrepreneur. However, you can take control of major issues and address the elements of your business that bear on your immediate survival. Next, you can take the time to plan for a successful future.

A great source of management advice is SCORE "Counselors to America’s Small Business."

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Maintain Peak Performance in Your Staff

If you believe that employees are the lifeblood of your company, you already know that like equipment and business systems, they need maintenance to perform well. So how do you inspire peak performance? Consider these eight simple approaches.

  • Be a model for positive energy. Set the example of punctuality and reliability if you expect those traits in your employees. Show that you take care of your physical health if you need for them to be healthy, too.

  • To motivate employees, share your positive vision, and share it with enthusiasm. Throw out at least one solution to a problem and encourage employees to come up with better ones.

  • Look and listen. Show employees that you are interested in their ideas, needs and concerns by actively listening and asking open-ended questions. Don’t wait until someone comes to you with a problem in the day-to-day work environment, if you’ve already noticed it and have the wherewithal either to correct it or to empower them to correct it.

  • Celebrate success. Build in rewards that clearly are not based on favoritism. Not all rewards cost money (or very much money), yet all of them demonstrate to employees that you consider their contributions and achievements as links to the company’s overall success.

  • Remember there is more to peak performance than hard work — yours or theirs. Take an objective look at the practices, policies and processes that affect your business’s products and services. Do they help employees to be effective or succeed? If not, actively involve them in making the necessary improvements.

  • Avoid statements like "do it right the first time," which imply that you assume your employees lack conscientiousness or are incompetent. Platitudes like this can actually be demotivators, even if you think these exhortations imply that you have certain standards for them to uphold.

  • Share news, whether good or bad. Open communication fosters trust, and trust is vital to motivating people to give you their best.

  • Keep your perspective and exhibit fairness. Coaching is a good thing; however, nitpicking is not. If you can accept other people’s work or personal styles that clearly do not compromise your business values, you communicate that you value individual performance over personality.

To learn more about sound management practices contact SCORE "Counselors to America’s Small Business." More than 10,500 volunteer business counselors donate their time to advise and mentor entrepreneurs.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Develop a Strategy to Strengthen Sales

Your business may be doing fine with a regular core group of customers and the occasional new client. But if you allow your sales to stagnate, your bottom line will gradually erode through rising costs, competition and unexpected problems. And if a key customer scales back its consumption of your products or services, or disappears altogether, the results could be devastating.

That’s why every small business needs a strategy to continually grow its sales volume, even if only in 5 percent increments. Set a reasonable annual goal and evaluate your progress every month. A one-month drop in sales can be corrected; a three-month downturn is much more difficult to remedy by year end. Here are some other ideas for getting sales back on track.

Make it a practice to regularly examine your sales records for trends. Do certain products and services sell particularly well? Are there other products or services that don’t move at all? Do you see seasonal variations in sales? Your sales goals should be based on indicators of past performance. Do you get most of your sales at the beginning or end of the month? How does weather affect your customer traffic? Is your sales force pulling in sufficient sales to justify its cost? These considerations factor into your sales goals as well as your timetable for achieving them.

Revisit the demographics of your customers regularly as well. Identify their age, income level, education level and, where possible, buying triggers. When you can clearly define your customer audience, you can develop effective new marketing approaches and refresh your product line. Can you increase market penetration among these customers? Are there other demographic groups that could constitute an additional customer base if you found the right strategy for pursuing them?

Talk to your suppliers. Their perspective on the industry and access to information makes them an excellent source of insights and ideas. Also talk regularly with your customers and discern the value they believe your business offers to improve their own business or personal lives.

If you have done your homework you can be confident that your experience, judgment and imagination will lead to strategies to increase sales volume. You’ll become more effective not only in retaining existing customers and increasing the per-customer sale but also gaining new customers who add to your sales volume.

If you would like advice on sales trend evaluation, informal customer research, sales goal setting or sales force motivation, contact SCORE "Counselors to America’s Small Business."

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Master the Art of the Win-Win Negotiation

In a sense, negotiating is a specialized form of problem-solving. Two parties start with opposing positions and try to reach an acceptable middle ground. And in the context of a cost-conscious small business, wise negotiating practices can spell the difference between fiscal soundness and failure.

Negotiating affects virtually every facet of a business. For many entrepreneurs, the first serious negotiation will concern a lease. As the business grows and demands more resources, negotiating skills are likely to come into play again if the business owner wants to expand by acquiring another business. In between, there will be many other situations in which win-win negotiations can help operations and profitability.

Win-win negotiations are those in which both parties believe they’ve gotten the best possible deal. When that happens, two companies are more likely to do business together again. If you want to hone your negotiation skills to close more win-win deals, take these three actions:

  • Prepare thoroughly. Good preparation involves understanding what you and your company want and need out of the negotiation as well as what your counterpart is likely to want or need. You should be able to prioritize your wants and needs, at least in your own mind. Sound preparation also requires savvy information gathering. Research costs and typical terms for what you are offering or seeking to acquire. Develop a list of all possible discussion points. Hope for a successful outcome, but know your alternatives for doing business elsewhere if the negotiations should fail.

  • Watch your words. During negotiations, listening can be as important as talking. Ask questions. Take notes. Paraphrase what you are hearing to show that you are listening and understanding the other party’s position. Do your part to create a climate of give and take. Emphasize points of agreement and how a fair agreement will benefit both sides. Show flexibility with your concessions, but avoid being the only one to make them.

  • Stay confident and positive. Even if you are negotiating with a larger company, you must appear confident of your position and value to your counterpart. End on a positive note. Restate the terms that have been agreed to. If you can’t reach agreement, though, do your part to leave the door open to future negotiations.

To learn more about negotiating effectively, contact SCORE "Counselors to America’s Small Business." More than 10,500 volunteer business counselors donate their time to advise and mentor entrepreneurs.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Make the Most of Your Valuable Time

Some entrepreneurs, only half joking, contend that their small business requires them to work 25 hours a day, eight days a week. If only that were possible. Time is a precious commodity when you are running the business. Just keeping up with the daily management and operations tasks is a challenge. Then, there is long-term planning, hiring, collecting and analyzing financial data, and so on and so on. The list never stops. Unfortunately, neither does the clock.

You must use each hour as productively as possible. The time you spend on things you enjoy may be the less important or productive tasks. Find it within yourself to avoid simple, repetitive tasks that may be comforting but do not utilize your full expertise. As the owner, your vision, energy and expertise need to remain focused on the product or service, marketing, sales and profitable results. That takes a lot of time. Keep your energy focused on making the money, which fuels the business and your income.

To use your time more efficiently, examine how you have been organizing your thoughts, plans, files and activities. For one or two weeks at least, keep a daily log of how you spend your time in 15-minute increments. Note the amount of time you spend on small tasks or interruptions that take you away from important work. These distractions may be the crisis of the moment or an unproductive phone call. After a week, you should see a pattern of effective activities, ineffective activities, time of day for the most accomplishments, time of day for the least accomplishments, and the overall time commitment to high-priority versus low-priority items.

Once you have identified how you use your time, you should be able to identify activities that are important to operations versus those that are clearly time stealers. Decide what tasks can be eliminated, minimized, delegated or streamlined. Paths to more effective time management may involve dropping a task, streamlining a process, or bringing on short-term help.

After you realign nonproductive or less productive tasks, block out your "found" time for analyzing major operational decisions, future planning, sales calls or other activities with a direct effect on your company’s bottom line. The time you have freed up will become busy again. Make sure you identify tasks you want to accomplish in that time period. Your time is money. When you are planning, marketing, selling or delivering your product or service you are making money. When you are administering the business, you are simply keeping the engine running.

If you would like to discuss effective time management in your business, contact SCORE "Counselors to America’s Small Business."

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Delegate to Improve Productivity

Being an entrepreneur means that you alone must shoulder the responsibility for your business. But this does not mean you have to do everything. As your business grows, you will almost certainly need to take on employees to handle some of the tasks you do not have time to handle.

Delegation is one of the toughest jobs to learn. If you only had one item to do, chances are you could do it better yourself. However, given the breadth of duties that operating a small business entails, some projects are best delegated and supervised to subordinates.

It takes discipline to let go of tasks both simple and complex. Consider delegation as part of your overall plan for the business, taking into consideration contingencies such as a sudden illness or a vacation.

Delegation is not just for a business with one or more employees. A solo entrepreneur can benefit from having a part-time employee, contractor, or intern assist with specific tasks. In delegating duties within or outside your staff, provide time for discussion, orientation and training. If you have a multiple employees, begin cross–training so there are backup systems in place if you or other key employees are absent. For competent, motivated employees, delegation can be an opportunity to learn new skills and take on added responsibility. You communicate to the employee your trust that he or she is up to the task and the attendant responsibilities.

Clearly define responsibilities and the authority that accompanies the task. Plan to recognize and reward the employees who assume additional duties. If employees step up to the plate, you want to be sure to demonstrate appreciation for their extra effort.

Those employees to whom you delegate responsibility must be responsible for their own actions and results as well as for those they may supervise. Request periodic, written reports and use staff meetings to provide a forum for comments on activities, accomplishments and challenges.

If you would like to discuss workload allocation, delegation and sound management practices, contact SCORE "Counselors to America’s Small Business."

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

Five Ways to Get a Grip on Your Schedule

Some days your schedule is your ally but more often it seems like an adversary. If you run a small business and wear the proverbial "many hats," you probably have noticed there’s a limit to how many places you can be in at once. Here are five perspectives on making the most of your work hours:

  • Set priorities. The one thing all the time management gurus will agree on is that some tasks will be more important than others. It is up to you to impose that hierarchy on tasks and yours to revise—as often as you need to.

  • Keep a master list of tasks you must do. This is where you store and remember all your tasks until you are ready to act on them. Along with commitments already on your calendar and tasks that have evolved during the course of the day, this master to-do list will drive your schedule for the next day.

  • Keep your long-range and intermediate high-priority goals in mind when you decide whether to commit to any activity that will end up on your to-do list or calendar. How will this event, activity or meeting advance the goals you have set for your business?

  • Build wiggle room into your schedule. You can’t control the unexpected, whether it arrives in the form of an emergency or an exceptional opportunity. Flexibility and adaptability are virtues that also apply to your time management principles.

  • Although there are many ways to approach scheduling, the best type of calendar or day planner is the one is the one that works for you: the one you stick with because it lifts your productivity. It may be a PDA that enables you to upload and download information from your desktop, or it may be a traditional printed calendar. Only you can decide, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

To learn more about effective techniques for using your time wisely, contact SCORE "Counselors to America’s Small Business." More than 10,500 volunteer business counselors donate their time to consult with and mentor entrepreneurs.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County is available from SLO SCORE members, local libraries, and the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles chambers of commerce.  This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus key questions that will influence how your business operates.

SCORE counselors provide free, confidential counseling to help you develop, prepare and improve a winning business plan.  All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are over 20 SCORE members in San Luis Obispo County assisting entrepreneurs. Counseling is always confidential and free-of-charge.  SLO SCORE  also offers small business workshops.

To learn more about SCORE and its counseling services, call us at 805.547.0779, or email us at info@sloscore.org.

How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County
How to Start a Business in San Luis Obispo County

This workbook provides a helpful framework for developing a business plan, plus answers to key questions that will influence how your business operates.

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Business Workshop
The Starting a Business workshop addresses issues confronting the aspiring entrepreneur.
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Business Counseling
Business Counseling
Free and confidential business counseling services are provided by experienced executives.
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