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Workshops Start for Gary's Small Business Owners

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A small business development project called the Gary Urban Entrepreneur Initiative announced earlier in August, to encourage the formation of new small businesses and the growth of existing ones, will hold it's first series of workshops this weekend in Gary.  According to Chelsea Whittington, Gary's Director of Communications, the initiative has enough free training resources and consulting to assist as many as 1,000 Gary business owners.  The Gary Chamber of Commerce is pleased to partner with the City of Gary, the Gary Economic Development Corporation, Washington, DC-based Five Plus and The Green-Campbell Group of Atlanta - Read more at: http://www.teamgaryindiana.com/?p=2263#sthash.QV9EkIAc.dpuf  
Whittington says the first Business Basics training cycle will begin Saturday, October 12th, 2013 from 10:00a.m. - 3:30p.m. at the Gary Small Business Center in the City Hall Annex, located at 839 Broadway.  Whittington says that while this very first session will be on-site, all other sessions over a ten-week period will be via a webinar on Tuesday evenings from 6:30p.m.-8:30p.m. CDT.
An application to apply for the workshops are available at:  http://www.teamgaryindiana.com/?p=2263
Read more about the Gary Urban Entrepreneur Initiative from City of Gary media release posted immediately below:
Gary Urban Entrepreneur Initiative
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.7% of employer firms in the U.S. are small businesses, accounting for 64% of net new job growth and 49.2 percent of private-sector employment. Small businesses are also responsible for much of the innovation--new products, methods, technologies--that occurs in the U.S., with such firms filing 16 times more patents per employee than large firms.
There can be little doubt that small businesses are the backbone of the nation's economy. This can be especially true in cities like Gary, that used to be heavily-dependent on manufacturing--but are now economically struggling because of job losses due to production declines, as well as technological advances that have decreased the need for workers.
The Gary Urban Entrepreneur Initiative is a small business development project sponsored by the City of Gary, in partnership with the Gary Economic Development Corporation, Gary Chamber of Commerce, Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center and ACCION, along with Five Plus and The Green-Campbell Group.
The objective of the Initiative is to encourage the formation of new small businesses, and the growth of existing ones. To accomplish this, we will provide:
Small Business Start-up Training
Business Basics is delivered as an intensive, 10-week workshop series that will help you learn how to start and manage a successful small business through step-by-step instruction and a series of homework assignments. Detailed instruction to help you write a comprehensive business plan is also provided.
The workshop series will be delivered via webinar by Deardra Campbell, Managing Principal of Atlanta, GA-based The Green-Campbell Group, who has used Business Basics to train more than 17,000 entrepreneurs across the country--many of whom are beating the national averages for start-up measurements like annual revenues generated and business tenure. To determine if your PC or Mac meets the system requirements to participate in the webinar, please click here.
The first Business Basics training cycle will begin Saturday, October 12, 2013. (Deardra Campbell will teach this very first session on-site from 10:00am-3:30pm at the Gary Small Business Center in the City Hall Annex, located at 839 Broadway.) All subsequent sessions will be delivered over a ten-week period via webinar on Tuesday evenings from 6:30pm-8:30pm (Central Time). To sign up for Business Basics, please complete the application for assistance by clicking here.
Technical Assistance
One-on-one and small group consulting is available to provide you with advice on specific business issues. Technical assistance is available to existing Gary small business owners and start-up Gary entrepreneurs who successfully complete the Business Basics workshop series. Technical assistance is available only by appointment. To request an appointment for technical assistance, please complete the application for assistance by clicking here.
Access to Capital
Initiative partner ACCION, one of the leading microfinanciers in the world, is available, by appointment, to discuss your business financial needs. If it is determined that your business might be qualified for one of their financing programs, an ACCION represent will provide you instructions on how to apply. To request an appointment with ACCION, please complete the application for assistance by clicking here.
Five Plus Trax
To help Gary entrepreneurs succeed, Peter Justen, CEO of Five Plus, has donated 1,000 licenses of Five Plus Trax, the company's cloud computing dashboard application that gives you easy-to-understand, real-time access to key data that can help you make better, faster business decisions concerning your company's finances. To request a free Five Plus Trax license for your business, please complete the application for assistance by clicking here.
Services and activities offered through the Gary Urban Entrepreneur Initiative are available completely free of charge to Gary residents. To get started, please complete the application for assistance by clicking here.
General Small Business FAQs
I want to start a business, but don't know what steps to take first.
Starting a business can seem overwhelming, not to mention confusing. One of the programs we offer is a 10-week training course ("Business Basics") that will teach you, step-by-step, the process of starting or expanding a small business. It's kind of like a business A to Z course where we teach topics that include licensing and regulation; business taxes, tax credits and other incentives; bookkeeping; sales/business development; operations; contract and equal employment opportunity laws; and business technology and e-commerce. We also spend several weeks on marketing, including primary and secondary market research, as well as competitive and industry analyses--which are some of the most important activities you need to conduct before you commit yourself to loans, leases and/or other long-term business contracts. The first training cycle begins on October 12, 2013; the next cycle is scheduled to begin January 14, 2014.
We strongly encourage you to take our course as it will answer the questions you probably have at this point--as well as better prepare you to understand and undertake the responsibilities and risks of starting a business. It will also help you write a solid business plan you can use to manage your business over the short-, intermediate- and long-term.
I already have a business plan, so I don't need to take your 10-week training program. I just need to know what steps to take next.
If you don't know what steps to take next, your business plan is probably not comprehensive enough. The process of writing a business plan, if done properly (i.e. thoroughly researched), is designed to provide you with the depth of information necessary to get you from point A to B to C, and beyond.
Among other things, your business plan should be comprised of detailed information, statistics and other supporting documentation that discusses the nature of the industry you're in (past, present and future - i.e. trends); the geographics, demographics and buying habits of your target consumer(s); a detailed competitive analysis; the standard, as well as industry-specific, risks that are inherent to your market space; your business's financial management plan, including three years' worth of revenue and expense projections; an analysis of management's qualifications to successfully run the business; and a detailed explanation of your operations plan (i.e. what needs to go on "behind the scenes"). If your business plan doesn't contain all of this--and more--then it's not comprehensive enough.
Please tell me about grants for women- and minority-owned businesses.
Contrary to popular belief, there are very, very few grants available to for-profit businesses. There are, however, some exceptions. For example, for-profits engaged in medical research or healthcare, job training/re-training, hi-tech/computer-related activities, or childcare can sometimes obtain grants to get started and/or expand. But the fact is that the vast majority of grants are restricted to tax-exempt, non-profits. Unfortunately, the proliferation of "scams" that promise "free money" to start a business have led many people to falsely believe that there are grants available to for-profit businesses for any purpose (and to waste significant amounts of money in this pursuit).
So how can a small business get money to buy equipment, inventory and/or meet start-up or expansion expenses? The answer is that most entrepreneurs have four primary options: 1) self-finance, meaning the personally pays for those expenses; 2) get others to invest, meaning get friends, family members or others to invest money in the business; 3) obtain a loan from a bank, or from family or friends; or 4) start/operate the business on a smaller scale and re-invest all of the profit back into the business by gradually purchasing the equipment and supplies needed to achieve your ultimate objectives.
How do I obtain a business loan?
Typically, business loans are made based on the proposed use of the proceeds and, consequently, it may be necessary to obtain more than one loan to meet your needs. For example, it may require three separate loans--all of which may have different amortization schedules and interest rates--if you're seeking money to purchase business equipment, renovate a building, and to use for working capital purposes.
There are two basic "genres" of business loans: "Traditional" loans are typically made either by banks (e.g. Bank of America, Wachovia, etc.) or by non-bank lenders (e.g. GE Capital, CIT Small Business Lending, etc.) to businesses requiring larger sums of money. Such loans usually require a down payment, collateralization and/or a strong credit history. Traditional loans can be either SBA-guaranteed or not.
"Micro loans" are made to small businesses--including home-based ventures and start-ups--that have fewer than 5 employees, including the owner(s); that are unable to obtain financing from traditional sources like banks and non-bank lenders; and that need less than about $75,000. Most micro lenders will accept a blemished credit history as long as all existing credit accounts are current and the owner presents a strong and comprehensive business plan; demonstrates solid business acumen, preferably in the chosen industry; and demonstrates the capacity to properly and successfully run the business. Additionally, micro lenders tend to favor businesses that have some positive cash flow--or can at least demonstrate anticipated short-term positive cash flow through the financial projections.
How do I obtain a business license?
Business licensing is controlled by the City of Gary's Department of Finance. Regulation/oversight is predicated on the type of business (not all businesses are subject to oversight) and--if the business is subject to oversight--it is typically controlled by the city, county or state (but can be controlled by one, two or all three, depending on the business). Again, depending on the type of business, a third-party may also have oversight (e.g. the securities industry is also overseen by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and/or SEC, in addition to Federal and State regulators).
Is it better to start a non-profit or a for-profit business?
The decision whether to structure as a non-profit or for-profit involves several factors, including:
1) The type of business/industry.  Not all business activities are eligible to receive tax-exempt status from the IRS. You should check out the IRS' webpage as it pertains to tax-exempt organizations:  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p557.pdf. On the last several pages you'll find a listing of the various activities that are eligible for tax exemption. Read through them to see if any of the categories fit the business model you're envisioning.
2) Your current financial capacity.  It takes money--which the founder typically has to commit--to start either a for-profit or a non-profit: In order to obtain tax-exemption from the IRS, you first have to establish the business as a non-profit corporation. In Indiana, this is done by filing your articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State Business Services Division. The current cost is $25 to file the articles online and $30 to file them by mail. This amount doesn't include attorney fees you may incur to prepare the articles of incorporation. Once the business is incorporated, you must then submit the Form 1023 (or 1024, depending on the type of non-profit) to the IRS, which charges a user fee of up to $850 to review the paperwork and render a decision on the business's tax-exempt status. Most folks find it necessary to retain an attorney to complete the IRS form, so that can be additional money out-of-pocket and up front.
3) Whether your target market can afford to pay--IN FULL--for services.  If they can't, you may want to consider a non-profit. If they can, you may want to consider for-profit.
4) Your anticipated annual operating expenses.  As a tax-exempt, non-profit, you'd most likely be eligible for grants--but successfully obtaining grants can be challenging, especially for start-up non-profits, which often don't have the track record necessary to attract the big bucks. Consequently, they often must start on a smaller scale and add additional services as they receive additional funding.
I want to purchase an existing business. What do I need to do next?
There are any number of considerations you need to make before purchasing an existing business, chief among them: whether the selling price is commensurate with the business's actual value--and this value is predicated on a number of factors, including the annual revenue the business has traditionally generated and the likelihood that its clients will continue to patronize the business under new ownership. Purchasing an existing business without conducting a thorough business valuation can be a recipe for disaster.
I'm a business start-up, but I just need help with my business plan.
We use a strict protocol when working with start-up entrepreneurs: You are not eligible to receive one-on-one technical assistance (consulting), including business plan assistance, until you have successfully completed the 10-week training course ("Business Basics"), which will teach you, step-by-step, the process of starting or expanding a small business, including how to write a comprehensive business plan.   
 
   


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