National Veterans Small Business Week & Resources for Veteran-Owned Businesses

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National Veterans Small Business Week for 2017 is October 30th – November 3rd. This week honors the service of U.S. veteran business owners — and business owners who are the spouses of veterans – and recognizes the contributions that their businesses make to our economy.  To help celebrate, empower and connect veterans/spouse business owners, SBA, SCORE, Kansas SBDC and the Veterans Business Resource center have two events coming up in the Ft. Riley ( Junction City – Manhattan) area.

• October 30th, 2 – 4 p.m. Resource Fair & Panel Discussion with Local Veteran Business Owners – Speakers will present information about how they help veterans and/or their spouses start or grow their businesses. A panel discussion will follow, featuring veteran business owners who will share their stories about starting and growing their ventures. This event will take place at the Junction City Library in the Community Meeting Room, 230 7th St. in Junction City, Kansas. To register call the SBA Wichita District Office (316) 269-6616 or email Wichita_Do@sba.gov

• November 3rd, 10 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Veterans Business Forum on Entrepreneurship – Presenters will conduct four workshop modules on business planning, financing, and the resources available to help entrepreneurs succeed. This event will take place at the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, 501 Poyntz Avenue. To register call the SBA Wichita District Office (316) 269-6616 or email Wichita_Do@sba.gov

National and Local Resources

VA Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization – You can register for verification as a veteran-owned business here, plus this website has information about training events and networking opportunities for government contracting.

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) – You can get assistance in registering for government contracting here and also training on government contracting. PTAC has offices at Wichita State University and in Topeka.

Veterans Business Resource Center  (VBRC) – Also called Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), this center conducts training for transitioning military and veteran business owners, helps connect veterans with resources and counseling.   KC Office (877) 825-4190

Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) – This office promotes veteran entrepreneurship through use of SBA programs. This website has information about SBA training programs, SBA loan programs, and government contracting.

SBA Veterans Advantage  – Information about loan programs to assist veterans access capital for their businesses.

Boots to Business  This is a 2-day intensive introduction to entrepreneurship for transitioning military and/or their spouses. It is part of the Transition Assistance Program. In Kansas, it is offered Ft. Riley, Ft. Leavenworth and McConnell Air Force Base. Presenters from the SBA, SCORE, KSBDC, and VBRC teach the modules at these Kansas installations.

America’s SBDC – Use this link to find your local SBDC (small business development center) for workshops and one-on-one business advising anywhere in the country.

America’s SBDC Kansas: Washburn University KSBDC (the MACC Outreach Center is closest to Ft. Riley), University of Kansas KSBDC (closest to Ft. Leavenworth),  Wichita State University KSBDC (closest to McConnell Air Force Base), plus Fort Hays State University KSBDC, Pittsburg State University KSBDC, Emporia State University KSDBC, Johnson County Community College KSBDC and Seward County Community College KSBDC. Centers offer one-on-one business advising, speciality consulting, workshops, training events and conferences for small businesses.

At the WU KSBDC, we are looking forward to National Veteran Small Business Week. We appreciate the service of our veterans and consider it a privilege to be able to work with veterans and their families as they pursue their goals of business ownership and entrepreneurship. 

Related Post

From Boots to Arts

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University KSBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

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The Paramour Coffee Story: Excellence in the Making

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Paramour Coffee, a specialty coffee company based in Wamego, has two café shops and also sells artisan coffees wholesale.

Considered the grandfather of speciality coffee, in the 1960’s and 70’s Alfred Peet was at the center of the coffee revolution in the U.S. In the late 1970’s Peet sold the company to Sal Bonavita. It is in the Peet’s tradition that Jim Hovind trained and he considers his coffees to be a tribute to Alfred and Sal.

In the early 80’s, Jim had advertised his services as a handyman in the Bay area of California. Bonavita saw one of the newspaper ads and called Jim up to offer him a job as chauffeur. Amongst other responsibilities, Jim drove Sal around to Peet’s various locations. It turned out to be a formative experience. Through visiting the stores and attending tastings, Jim became interested in roasting. He started in the training program and turned out to be a natural. Doing better as a novice than many of the more experienced roasters, Jim himself eventually became a master roaster.  Enjoying learning about coffee and its complexities, he expanded into studying the business side of beans. After Peet’s changed ownership again, Jim worked roasting coffee and conducting tastings for several different companies before taking a break to do other things.

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Jim, who had grown up in Kansas City, eventually saw that he had a dream of bringing really great coffee to the Midwest. He realized this vision in the spring of 2012 when he opened Paramour Coffee in downtown Wamego – on the day of the local Tulip Festival.

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The shops’ regulars are dedicated to Paramour’s artisan coffees for their outstanding quality and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the cozy café which is filled with the upbeat sounds of jazz music, laughter and conversation that spill over onto the outdoor seating area.

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In May of 2017, Paramour opened a second location – this one on the Westside of Manhattan. Located at the Bank of the Flint Hills, it features modern decor, a drive thru and also an outdoor patio.

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Branching out increased the need for roasted beans. This necessitated improvements to Paramour’s original building in order to accommodate the longer hours during which Jim was going to be roasting beans for the shops and the wholesale business.

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Jim deeply appreciates the love, help and support shown to him by the community.  This, he points out, includes the Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce, Pottawatomie County Economic Development and the WU KSBDC for working with him and his bank to put together the funding needed at several stages of the business. Jim says that “working with these people, you just really know that they want to help you succeed.” 

Jim’s advice to new business owners: “Strive for excellence in something that you love. Be the best that you can be and enjoy it. You don’t have a chance at success unless you are being your best.”  – And Jim follows his own advice.  Jim loves talking with customers and reading them to understand their tastes. He loves sourcing the beans, roasting them, blending and developing coffees and he strives for excellence at every step of the process. He says “you have to – it shows in the coffee. It’s the pursuit of excellence, and striving to be the best you can be, that becomes apparent on the tasting table.” (To learn more, watch Love Your Coffee.)

Kudos, Jim, for achieving excellence in your Paramour coffees! We wish you continued success with your business.

 

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University KSBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

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Developing a Small Business Continuity Plan

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Business continuity planning is the process of developing proactive strategies for averting, weathering, and recovering from a disaster or crisis and, in the process, protecting a business’s employees, operations, and key assets.

Continuity planning helps a company anticipate potential threats, identify measures that can be taken to avoid or minimize those threats, and, when such measures are not possible, delineate steps for getting through and recovering from dire situations. A well thought out continuity plan should improve the likelihood of a small business’s ability to prevent or survive a calamity.

Here are general steps involved in business continuity planning, but a continuity plan should be specific to the business for which it is developed.

Identify your support team. Who are the people in your company, or on your business’s support team, that in a crisis, can help shift operations and solve problems? Include them in your continuity planning and give them a role to play in your recovery plan. For the owner of a very small business, these people might be employees, external advisors such as an IT professional or an account manager with an important vendor, or even family members. It is a good idea to bring someone trained in continuity planning onto your planning team.

Know the legal requirements or compliance issues for your industry.  Businesses in healthcare, the financial sector, and ones that perform government contracting are subject to continuity planning requirements. Even if you are not in one of these industries, there may be contractual expectations that your business has a continuity plan that meets certain criteria. Depending on your business, you may need a certified continuity planner to assist in development of your plan.

Identify what needs to be protected. Does your business have employees? Do you carry large amounts of inventory or have other important physical assets? Do you have data that needs to be safeguarded? What are the functions without which your business cannot continue to exist? Who performs them? Where are they performed? What needs to be in place in order for them to operate?

Run through different scenarios. Consider the possible crisis or disaster scenarios that you would want to thwart or from which your business might conceivably need to recover someday, ranging from human acts to weather events.  A cybersecurity breach? Embezzlement? The sudden loss of a key employee or primary vendor? A major disease outbreak? A tornado, fire, or flood striking your place of business? An ice storm that knocks out power for days? What if something happens to one of your major vendors or customers?

Mitigate risk. What can be done to prevent your business from experiencing a crisis situation? Think about things like password security, keeping multiple back-ups of data in distinct locations, having back-up supply chains, training employees for certain job functions in remote work, evacuation plans, etc.  Do you have adequate safety protocols to protect whatever needs to be protected including your people? What are the ways in which you can minimize damage to your business’s financial health? What insurances do you have in place and what are their limitations? Where are the policies, how will you access them, and whom do you contact if you need to make a claim?

Create a communication plan. Who are the key people (employees, customers, vendors, stakeholders) with whom you would need to communicate and in what order? How will you communicate? What if there is no cell phone service or internet service? How will you access important data if you do not have physical access to your place of business?

Plan critical operations. How are you going to get essential functions up and running as quickly as possible? How long is that likely to take and is it within acceptable parameters? What operations can be set aside temporarily to facilitate resumption of more critical ones?

Keep your plan up to date. As your company evolves, as key employees turnover, as contractual obligations or industry expectations change, as new potential risks develop, etc., your plans will need to be updated.

Conduct testing and training on policies and procedures. What policies and procedures do you have in place to reduce the likelihood of a crisis? What policies and procedures do you have in place for responding to a crisis? Test what can be tested to see whether the measures are effective, improve where needed, and conduct training on policies and procedures. For them to be effective, team members  need to be familiar with whatever sections of the plan are relevant to their positions.

Encourage your employees to have emergency plans for their families. In a crisis situation, people worry about their families, especially if they are out of communication. Having family emergency plans in place, hopefully will help keep family members safe and also remove some of stress that accompanies emergency situations.

At America’s SBDC Kansas, we have advisors who are certified in business continuity planning. While we hope that disaster never strikes, we encourage business owners to to be proactive about protecting their future.

Related Posts & Other Resources

National Preparedness Month

Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

NIST’s 7-Step Continuity Planning Process

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University KSBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

 

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Hot Stuff!

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During Oztoberfest in Wamego over the weekend, Toto’s Tacoz! launched its new line of hot sauces: Witches Manic Meltdown (a green jalapeño hot sauce) and Toto-ly OZsome (a red habanero hot sauce). It was a great time for this local restaurant, part of the Oz-cluster of Wamego businesses, to introduce its new sauces!Unknown-2

While Colleen “manned” the hot sauce stand and greeted folks with her winning smile, Craig served up their famous tacos for the hungry crowd of Toto’s fans.

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The condiments definitely have some zing and nice flavor for complementing cheesy, saucy dishes. Toto-ly OZsome has a somewhat more pronounced flavor and edges out Witches Manic Meltdown in the heat department. (Just in case you are wondering just how hot they are … as someone who is enjoys hot foods, but who does not seek out the very hottest, I would describe both sauces as having a pleasant amount of heat, i.e., noticeable but not so much as to detract from the flavors of the foods they accompany.)

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Toto’s Tacoz was the WU KSBDC Existing Business of the Year award winner for 2017. Since we are still in 2017, congratulations again on the award, Craig and Colleen – and OZsome job on the sauces! Your customers are sure to love them!

 

 

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University KSBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

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Working With Banks: 8 Tips for Small Businesses

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The WU KSBDC recently hosted a mini-conference on Access to Capital for Small Businesses. The event started with a panel of bankers discussing what small businesses need to know about working with banks.

An issue of importance to many small business owners is the need for capital. The capital could be for purposes such as starting a new business, managing seasonal cash flow, remodeling, relocating, expansion or entering new markets, market research or marketing costs, bringing on more employees, modernization, purchasing new technology or equipment, or new product development. Though debt is not always the right choice, used properly, it can facilitate or even be vital to, a business’s ability to get off the ground, adapt, or survive long-term. Banks are one of the main places where small businesses can go for money; and a good banker can be a helpful part of a small business’s support team.

Here are 8 tips for understanding small business banking relationships before going to a bank.

It is important to manage your personal finances well.  When you apply for a loan, a bank will check your credit history.  Banks take the view that how you manage your personal finances is an indication of how you will manage your business finances. If there are any issues with your personal finances, you may need to save more money, repair your personal credit or build your credit history before a bank is willing to work with you.

It is best to establish a relationship with a bank before you need money. When possible, if you can anticipate your needs and work with a bank beforehand to make a plan for financing, that will show that you are on top of things and managing your finances. Starting a business without thinking about what you will need for operating capital, or waiting until you have run up a lot of credit card debt and run out of cash, is not the best way to make a good first impression. If you wait until you are in a pinch, you won’t be in a good position to shop for the right bank with good terms and you may not even qualify for a bank loan.

You might need to meet with more than one bank before you find the right fit. Banks give loans because they make money on them. In the case of locally-owned banks, offering loans to local businesses is also a way to support their community, but that doesn’t mean that they will work with just anyone. When bankers connect with the right businesses, they are happy to develop a relationship with them. Different banks like to work with different types of businesses just as different business owners like to work with different bankers. You may need to meet with several banks before you find one with which there is the right fit in terms of your business and the type of businesses with which that bank works, the types of loan products that bank offers, the terms of the loan package, and the level of trust or comfort that you desire.

Banks are risk averse. Banks, these days, are highly regulated and are looking for safe investments. When they lend money to businesses, they want to feel assured that the loan is going to be repaid. One of the things that makes banks feel assured is that you have invested, or are going to invest, your own money in the business as well as whatever money you are borrowing. If you are viewed as too risky – e.g., because of your personal financial history, lack of equity, lack of collateral, your stage of business, the risks associated with your industry or with the purposes for which you seek money – you may need work with another source of capital either in addition to, or instead of, a bank.

Educate yourself about different types of financing. There are various types of loans and sometimes they are packaged together to fill a business’s various needs. Loans can range from lines of credit and short-term loans to long-term loans. Different lengths of repayment are appropriate for different purposes. For example, a line of credit might be useful for operating capital, a short-term loan for purchasing equipment, a medium-term loan for a large remodeling project, and a long-term loan for purchasing a building. In some situations, loan guarantee programs might come into play, e.g., SBA or USDA loans, to remove some of the risk to the bank and establish better terms for the borrower. Sometimes bank loans can be supplemented with gap financing through a local funding partner. (An example in some parts of Kansas would be an E-Community loan. Microloans through lenders such as Kansas Women’s Business Center are also sometimes an option.)

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Don’t be intimidated, but do try to present yourself well and be prepared for your meetings. Know what the purpose of your meeting is and bring in whatever materials or documents the bank will need to work with you. If you having a preliminary get-to-know you meeting, be prepared with a description of your business and the purpose(s) for which you might be looking for a loan along with a list of questions that you would like to ask.  Once you have chosen a bank and are ready to apply for a loan, know how much will you be asking for and for what purposes. Bring a well-developed business plan that includes realistic financial projections; and also bring the last several years of income tax returns (personal for start-ups, business for existing businesses). Show how you will be able to repay the loan and know what assets you have to collateralize the loan just in case. Ask whatever questions you have. Being prepared will help you make a good impression and, if you qualify, will also help speed up the loan application process.

Make sure that you understand the jargon, the repayment terms and the full-cost of the loan or loan package before signing any paperwork.  (Here is dictionary of banking terms and jargon from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.) If there is something in the paperwork for your loan or loan package that you don’t understand, if the loan costs seem too high, the payments seem unmanageable, or if you are uncomfortable with the amount or type of collateral required, ask questions and explore whether there are better alternatives. You may need to keep doing your homework and investigate other options before moving ahead.

Once you have found the right bank or banker, stay in touch.  If you have an open loan, your banker will appreciate a periodic check-in to help you both be assured that you are on the right track and to assess whether any changes need to be made. Remember that one of your goals is to anticipate your financial needs and to be prepared for them rather than be caught off-guard. Maintaining a good relationship can help solidify trust to help you in the future.

At the WU KSBDC, our advising services include helping clients with business planning. This includes assistance in producing financial projections, evaluating need for capital and identifying potential ways to access capital, so that our clients are well-prepared for their business’s future.

 

Related Posts

Access to Capital for Small Businesses

Helping Millennials Start Businesses

 

 

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University KSBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

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How to Dominate in a Pitch Competition

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We are living in an age where hundreds of thousands of startups are created every year. With that being said, when it comes to pitching a business idea, it’s crucial that entrepreneurs do their research and understand what’s expected of them.

According to Ilya Pozin of Forbes Magazine, in a pitch competition “competitors receive a few key benefits including exposure, validation, and of course funding. Winners are often rewarded with vital capital.” If an entrepreneur wants to succeed and dominate in a pitch competition, there are some key tips to remember.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
This seems obvious, but polishing your pitch is one of the most important things you need to do to succeed in a competitive event. It doesn’t matter how good your business idea is, if you can’t sell that idea in a clear, concise, and engaging manner, you’re not going to get far. Once a pitch goes off the rails, it’s quite difficult to pivot in a positive direction.

Entertain the Judges
By no means am I encouraging you to do a song-and-dance routine to ‘wow’ the crowd, but no one wants to sit through a boring, unenthusiastic speech. Be human, show your passion for your business, and use proper body language. Prepare what you’re going to say, but don’t make it sound bland and over-rehearsed. If it sounds too scripted, you’ll turn people off to your pitch almost immediately.

Tell a Great Story
Pitches tend to be more flexible and less rigid – this gives you as the presenter an opportunity to tell a great story. Telling a captivating story about what drives your passion and why you started your business can be more compelling than listing off a bunch of facts.

Make Your Presentation Visually Captivating
Watch any episode of Shark Tank and you’ll notice that most of the entrepreneurs who appear on the show give visual and sometimes interactive pitches. Standing in front of a crowd with a simple powerpoint slideshow will only get you so far. Grabbing the judges’ attention and getting them involved with your pitch can be the difference between winning and losing. Let them sample your product – bring them something they can see, touch, smell, etc. Research has shown that visual and interactive presentations can have a positive impact on your audience.

Be Honest
“Don’t massage your numbers, omit critical information that will impact the business or exaggerate the extent of your business partnerships,” said Samir Housri, Co-founder at theMednet. “Be able to explain the decisions you’ve made as a CEO or team leader…a leader is someone that can think for themselves and makes rational decisions with the information they have available to them.”

Be truthful and honest in your presentation. You want to present your business in a positive light, but a good judge will do some homework and will discover if there is any information you may have left out or exaggerated.

Mindy Lee
Advisor/Marketing Coordinator
Washburn University
America’s SBDC

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Getting off the Ground with Little Apple Pilates

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… stretching out.

About 2 years ago, Hilary Santana set a goal of opening her own pilates studio. She wanted to have a studio where she could bring together the things that she needed for the types of exercise that she enjoyed that were missing from gyms. On September 1st,  she made that goal a reality! At Little Apple Pilates, Hilary offers classes and private instruction in pilates, aerial hammocks, silks, TRX, Barre, and hot yoga. (While I was there, she gave me a demonstration of free-flowing aerial techniques for stretching and strength building.)

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… working with gravity.

Hilary’s love of pilates owes to the way that it feels. Hilary, who is a kinesiologist and has been a pilates instructor for 6 years, always felt let down by other types of exercise – “it always felt like there was something missing.”  Pilates, though, according to Hilary, “feels like it gives you an instruction manual for your body – its individual biomechanics.” Her exercise philosophy is that “you should work out to love your body, not to punish it.” Exercise shouldn’t hurt or cause injury.

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… doing a plank mid-air.

Hilary came to the KSBDC for assistance with her business plan. The hurdles that she needed to overcome to open the business were finding the right location, putting together the necessary funding, and educating people about what pilates is and how it differs from other forms of exercise in order to develop clientele.

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Hilary is thrilled to finally have her own studio. Her two pieces of advice to other people interested in starting a new business: “you can’t skip steps — and never stop learning!”

Congratulations, Hilary! Wishing you success with Little Apple Pilates!

Related Posts:

Helping Millennials Start Businesses

Celebrating Women Business Owners

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University KSBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

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