Thinking about starting a business?

With our SmartSTART Series, you will learn about the advantages and disadvantages of owning your own business; and then focus on exploring your business idea while identifying the key factors that will influence your startup success.


This introductory workshop focuses on the basics of testing your business idea and identifying the key factors that influence start-up success. Start-up Basics provides you with an overview of the skills and tools you need when deciding to start a business. In this session, you learn about: the advantages and disadvantages of owning a business, the most profitable form for your business, and the fundamentals of formation, organization, marketing, cash flow, and funding sources.  (This is a prerequisite to the Advanced Series #2-#6 which follows.)


The second workshop focuses on your business concept and provides step-by-step guidance in researching your idea, your market, and your competition. At the end of the Business Concepts workshop, you are able to: identify your target markets, describe your products and services, and collect key competitive information to support your feasibility plan.
The third workshop introduces you to marketing research avenues and tools to maximize your business search. The session will begin with instructions that identify the various references available to quantify your industry, your demographics, trends, and business statistics. This will be followed by computer lab work to learn how to use all the references available.


The ability to locate, educate, qualify, and sell to new customers is a critical skill for many entrepreneurs.  The fourth workshop first discusses marketing strategies, including product or service pricing, positioning, the difference between features and benefits, and different marketing techniques. It then covers the basics of how to build a solid foundation for sales success using multiple methods and sales models including direct sales, telephone sales, and online sales. The instructor will show you how to shorten your sales cycle and motivate prospects to action as well as hire and manage top sales performers.  At the end of this session, you will know how to: test your marketing message, choose the right sales channel, outline and implement your marketing strategy, and create a sales machine that is consistent and effective. 


The fifth workshop will discuss financial flow and how it operates within a business. Terminology will be defined as well as explanations pertaining to the various business reports. Then a basic financial worksheet will be completed using a case study as an example, with exercises to help you better understand financial concepts. This session reviews sales and prices, financial risks and rewards, true start-up costs, ongoing operating expenses, setting benchmarks for tracking progress, and the organization of all your financial information. Using a hands-on approach, you learn how to use our financial model to forecast sales revenue and build solid pro-forma financial forecasts.


The final workshop offers information on how to finance your small business. In this session, discussions include sources of funds, accounting, the six C's of credit, banking relations, ratio analysis, and monthly preparation and review of financial statements.  A bank loan officer will give an inside view of how a banker assesses the merits of business plans and loan applications. At the end of the series, you have all of the tools necessary to decide whether or not to launch your small business.

Note: Registration for the first session is $10.  For the Advanced Series, #2 thru #6 registration is $150, plus $50 if an additional guest will be involved in the same business.  Includes all 5 sessions.

Please bring a laptop computer with you to each of the 5 sessions.  Our Advanced Series is now "paperless" and you will be provided with an electronic copy of the files at the beginning of the class.