Tag Archives: small business

You’re invited to Chemeketa SBDC’s open house

By Chemeketa SBDC

Come discover all the ways we can help your business thrive!

We’re inviting local business owners and community business organizations to see your Small Business Development Center and connect with business resources we offer. Many business owners aren’t sure where to get support for their goals – do you know about SBDC?

June 7, 2011 11:30-2pm

You’re invited to check us out! The open house will include:

  • A presentation by a local business celebrity
  • Tours of our facility
  • A networking table for your cards and brochures
  • A business card raffle for several outstanding business books
  • Time to connect with business owners and leaders in the business community

Open house agenda – feel free to attend some or all of the day’s events

  • 11:30 Gathering and registration
  • 12:00 Secrets of My Success presentation: Mary Lou Zeek, of the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery
  • 1:15 Welcome from Diane McLaran, Director of the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry
  • 1:20 Staff-led building tours
  • 1:30 – 2 Coffee, cookies, and connection time

Other details

There is no cost for this event. Please invite friends!

Plan to bring some business cards or brochures to share. We’ll have a table set up where you can leave them for other participants to take.

We’re located at 626 High St NE, Salem (map). Free parking is available all day at the Marion Parkade kitty-corner to our building.

Want to connect and get support? We’d love for you to attend! Call us (503-399-5088) or send an email (sbdc@chemeketa.edu) to register!


Budgets in Tight Times

By Chemeketa SBDC

Marcia Bagnall, SBDC Director

Times are still tight, so are a business owner’s finances. You need to survive this downturn, but how? Now, even more than ever, you need to know your business.  And you need to determine what level of cash cushion you feel you need to maintain your solvency over a period of time.  As part of your analysis you should know the areas that are viable for cost containment and that could be targeted for streamlining.  Most likely you will cut expenses to increase profits allowing you to build the cushion you need for the long term.

You will need to develop an operating strategy for effecting changes.  One of the first things you need to do is to set a basic budget floor for the area(s) you will be cutting.  When you establish the basic budget, it is critical that you include an amount sufficient to meet all the needs of the department or operations covered.

If you operate machinery or equipment, be certain to budget adequate maintenance and accrue an amount to set aside in case new equipment is required.  Cutting too close to the edge could leave you out of production as a result of one major malfunction.

Travel and entertainment are an easy target for tough budget cuts.  But, for many companies, these costs are an absolute sales necessity  – your customers expect it and your competitors will be hot on your heels if you do not maintain these contacts. In many cases, the loss of business won’t be felt initially and you might feel that you saved money without any effect.  Take the time to create a budget that allows your company, through all its sales efforts, to keep up a high profile with your customers.

If you know that your administrative cost is way out of line, don’t just storm through and fire every third person to save money.  First, determine what work is essential and how many people it takes to accomplish those tasks.  What support do they need in terms of equipment and outside services?  Put a number to that to find your minimum floor.  But, that is not the level that your have to reach.  Always leave room above minimum service.  You will do your cutting on the margins above this operational level.  If you get down to the bare minimum, you leave very little in the way of real service and have no margin for error.  While you don’t need ten people doing the work of five, cutting back too far will mean if someone is out sick or resigns, important work may not get done.  Your intention is to be efficient, not at a critical edge with no margin for error.

When you begin a program of serious cost reductions, you should develop a target percentage for the costs and where you are going to focus for the reduction.  Spreading the cost cuts fairly across departments won’t ease the difficulty that managers have when budgets are cut, but it will make others feel that this is a group effort and not a punitive attack.


Peer to Peer Lending

By Chemeketa SBDC

Kate Gibson

Kate Gibson

The economic downturn and the corresponding squeeze in the credit market have many people looking beyond traditional financial institutions for loans to start or grow their business. One new option is peer to peer lending, facilitated by websites such as Prosper and Lending Club. This is an emerging industry that facilitates loans of $1000 to $25,000 from private lenders to private borrowers.

To apply for a loan, prospective borrowers create an online profile on a peer lending site outlining how much they would like to borrow, the maximum interest rate they are willing pay, and information about their credit history. They may also include information about what they will use the loan for. Their credit history is verified by the site, which assigns them a credit rating.
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Niche Marketing

By Chemeketa SBDC

Marcia Bagnall

little-marcia

A sound piece of advice for business owners is to focus on niche markets as a way to more effectively reach a target audience. But what exactly is niche marketing anyway? Niche marketing is about identifying a specialized customer and then delivering your product or service to them.  Once you identify the characteristics of a very specific group of ideal customers, you can then customize your business and service delivery to meet the needs of these customers. 

Niche marketing involves discovering the biggest frustration your customer faces when dealing with your industry, and then solving that problem for them. It has to do with specializing in a particular area of your industry. It is becoming an expert at a certain facet of your business. You offer something that no one else is offering, or you do it in a way no one else is doing it in your industry.

 

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The 6 Most Persistent Business Myths

By Chemeketa SBDC

Marcia Bagnall

little-marcia

There are 6 commonly held misconceptions that we hear a lot at the Small Business Development Center from people wanting to start their own business. You may hold some of these beliefs yourself, so do yourself a favor and change your thinking:

  1. If I start my own business I’ll have more time to do the things I want. Sadly the story doesn’t pan out like that. You’ll be working more hours and for less pay (for sure right at the start, but probably for a few years at least). A new business demands so much more time than you might think. While you may have the flexibility to take your kids to the orthodontist and after-school activities in order to be successful, you have to embrace the concept that being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle, not a job.  (more…)

Selling a Business Requires Planning

By Chemeketa SBDC

Marcia Bagnall, Chemeketa SBDC Director

 

little-marcia

 

If you’re considering selling your existing business you know that it’s not as simple as selling a car or other assets. There’s more involved than that, and much of that work centers around the books (financial statements).

When we attempt to sell a business, we are trying to sell something that has performed. Performance is best reflected through financial statements. Are yours in good enough shape to show a potential buyer?

Many business owners don’t know how to get ready for buyers. But it’s not that difficult if you plan carefully and give yourself enough time. Getting yourself ready to sell your business should begin at least a year in advance. You’ll need the time to implement these specific steps to enhance your business value and marketability:

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Protecting Your Trade Secrets

By Chemeketa SBDC

Marcia Bagnall

little-marcia

 

It’s common knowledge that patents, trademarks and copyrights are all forms of intellectual property that can be protected by the law. But there is another, less well understood category of intellectual property, and that’s trade secrets. What are they exactly and how can you protect yours?

Trade secrets can be recipes, procedures, customer lists, expansion plans; in short, anything giving you a leg up over the competition that you want to keep strictly to yourself. They are things that differentiate you from your competitors, and if leaked, could cause harm to your business.

Consider implementing these steps to protect your company.

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Clients in the News!

By Chemeketa SBDC

Two of the SBDC’s clients have been in the news recently and we wanted to make sure to share their success.

Oregon programs help put veteran back to work

Source:  Statesman Journal

April 11, 2010

John Gimby just might be the new poster boy for veterans’ employment services. The Salem man was able to launch his own business — Omega Landscape Maintenance & Design — with help from three different organizations.

Gimby took advantage of every second of support from WorkSource Oregon Employment Department, the Hire Oregon Veterans Program and the MicroEnterprise Resources, Initiatives & Training (MERIT) program. And with their collaboration, he turned his dream into a reality.

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Diversifying Your Customer Base

By Chemeketa SBDC

Marcia Bagnall

little-marcia

Have you ever heard a business owner speak longingly of scoring a big client by saying “catching the elephant” or “reeling in the big one” or “landing the whale?” Big clients can mean more prestige, better connections, and bigger paychecks. But consider that relying on a single client for a large chunk of your revenue can have a flip side. You could be vulnerable, especially if you’ve neglected your other clients or hired more staff. 

A big client is wonderful when they’re there, but can create a lot of pain when they leave. And you can’t predict what that client might do, nor can you prevent the pressure of circumstances creating a situation where they have to leave you. This can be very problematic.

Experts often caution businesses not to rely too heavily on any one client too much. Tempting as it is, consider the following guidelines.

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Working At Home Scams

By Chemeketa SBDC

Marcia Bagnall, Chemeketa SBDC Director

little-marcia

 

Are you considering starting a home-based business?
Perhaps you need to take time out from your job to care for children or sick family members. Maybe you just want to get out of the rat race for awhile. There are plenty of decent opportunities to use your skills.

You may have skills that you can teach to others, like playing a musical instrument, training animals or working with plants. You may be an excellent handyman or mechanic. Technology makes it possible for you to be a call center agent, survey conductor or medical billing agent right from your own living room. There’s no shortage of possibilities.

But at the same time there are lots of bad ideas out there you need to stay away from. You’ve probably seen those ads that promise you will “make $1,500 a day stuffing envelopes” or “lose 20 pounds in your sleep tonight and your friends will line up to buy your secret formula!” Clearly those are scams, anyone would recognize this. But there are legitimate opportunities out there too, so how can you tell the difference?

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