The Mark Twain Cave and Campground, located in Hannibal, has been owned and operated by the Cameron family since 1923. It's the cave Mark Twain wrote about in five of his books, most famously The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It lies just one and a half miles south of the historic downtown, hugging the Mississippi River. It's a location that attracts summer tourist traffic.
The Mississippi River is flood-prone, and the business was hit hard by the flooding and the recession of 2008.
Linda Coleberd, now managing owner of the Mark Twain Cave and Campground Complex, knew she had a lot of learning to do very quickly for the business to keep afloat.
A banker and friend suggested the Monroe County Extension SBTDC. The banker had witnessed firsthand how the SBTDC had helped small businesses in northeast Missouri, and Coleberd says having a business expert from her area sounded like what she needed. So she contacted Charles Holland, Monroe County Extension SBTDC business development specialist, for a more in-depth consultation.
Gardening. Grilling. Canines.
Elvis, Garfield, KISS, the Wizard of Oz.
The Rockridge Group LLC, an e-merchant based in Springfield, owns four distinct catalogs and has a gift for any purpose, imaginatively photographed and even more imaginatively described.
Here is just one example from iGift, the group's newest catalog: a T-shirt with Abraham Lincoln doing something it's unlikely he ever did in life — play the drums.
"America rocks!" reads the catalog description. "And in the annals of American history, there is no greater rock star than Abraham Lincoln. This cool lightweight T-shirt is a fitting tribute to a man who understood the rhythm of the nation and kept us rocking together as one."
Then there's the Leonardo da Vinci watch. The Renaissance genius wrote his journals in mirror script, so this watch tells time in reverse motion.
The watch is from the group's Music Stand catalog. (Leonardo was also a talented musician.) The Music Stand's customer base is musicians, performers, artists and music lovers in general and features merchandise ranging from watches and key chains to décor.
It's true that sequestration of the federal budget and the growing federal deficit have had an impact on federal spending.
But the government is still in operation and still purchasing more than $500 billion worth of goods and services. That amount nearly doubles when you add in state and local government contracts.
Morris Hudson, director of University of Missouri Extension's Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC), says that his staff occasionally hears businesses are not attempting to bid on contracts due to the rollback. But he urges companies to continue their contracting activities and work with PTAC staff to find the best opportunities for their firm.
"We have seen some slight reductions in some agencies," Hudson says, "but overall the impact is not that significant. There are still thousands of viable bidding opportunities at the federal, state and national levels. Our staff can assist in identifying those, preparing bid documents and guiding companies through the contracting process."
Hudson adds that the federal government is also aware that small businesses create the lion's share of jobs today, and that 23 percent of all federal prime contracts must be awarded to small business. The government further mandates the following small business goals:
- 5 percent to small disadvantaged businesses for prime contracts and subcontracts
- 5 percent to small women-owned businesses for prime and subcontracts
- 3 percent to Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) small businesses
- 3 percent to small service-disabled, veteran-owned businesses for prime and subcontracts
In the past three years, MO PTAC assisted Missouri firms in winning $857.4 million in government contracts.
MO PTAC's mission is to help companies — including small, disadvantaged and women-owned firms — obtain federal, state and local government contracts. They know dealing with regulations and red tape can be frustrating. In fact, those obstacles often keep highly qualified suppliers from selling to the government.
But MO PTAC specialists can assist in understanding the government contracting process so you can take advantage of the best bidding opportunities.
MO PTAC has centers statewide. If you would like to learn more, call 573-882-8058 or go to moptac.net.
Small businesses are the engine of economic development: more than half of all Americans work for or own a small business in the U.S., according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). And surveys consistently show that small businesses are responsible for about two in every three new jobs created in the U.S. annually.
To celebrate the achievements and impact of small businesses, the SBA presents the 2013 National Small Business Week from June 16-21 with events coast to coast, including numerous events in Missouri.
These include low-cost seminars on financing, customer service and social media culminating in a mixer at Copper Run Distillery in Branson [download flyer (PDF)]; and an SBA-sponsored event at Harris-Stowe State University, 3026 Laclede Avenue, St. Louis from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 19 featuring speed mentoring; a session on taking your business global; armchair interviews with SBA Administrator Karen Mills and Chairman of World Wide Technology David Steward; and education on the unique small business supply chain, finding capital, the Affordable Care Act and more. This event is free; visit 2013nsbwstlouis.eventbrite.com to register.
National Small Business Week will also feature daily online forums on topics important to small business owners and entrepreneurs, including access to capital and exporting and live streaming events at SBA.gov.
In addition, the IRS will conduct two free webinars for small business owners: "Get All the Tax Benefits You Deserve" and "Avoiding the Top Tax Mistakes Small Businesses Make."
The week culminates in Washington, D.C. with the announcement of the 2013 National Small Business Person of the Year. Thomas Douglas, owner of JMARK Business Solutions, Inc., a technology consulting firm for small- to medium-size businesses specializing in full-service computer network care and Missouri State University SBTDC client, has been named the 2013 Missouri Small Business Person of the Year. JMARK was recently ranked No. 113 globally and No. 90 in North America as a top managed service provider, and Douglas was named a Top Executive by Nine Lives Media in their Top 250 global managed service providers and entrepreneurs.
The Missouri State University SBTDC won the SBA's Region VII Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award for outstanding service in helping small area businesses. The MSU SBTDC competed against nominees from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.
(Read the story about SBA's awards for the MSU SBTDC and JMARK in the April 2013 newsletter.)
You know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that regulates workplace safety and health.
Did you know that OSHA requires every business from the smallest to the largest corporations to comply with its regulations? And that Missouri requires 10 hours of training for workers on certain publicly funded construction sites in Missouri?
Compliance is more than meeting burdensome regulations, however. Effective safety and health programs can dramatically impact your bottom line by reducing the costs of injuries and illnesses. It's estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week in direct workers' compensation costs alone. Direct costs include workers' compensation payments, medical expenses and costs for legal services; indirect costs include training replacement employees, accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment and property and costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism.
A 2008 law requires that all employees working for contractors or subcontractors on defined public works construction projects in the state of Missouri receive OSHA 10-hour construction safety training within 60 days of beginning work on a project. You can obtain this training online or have an authorized OSHA trainer come to you; go to osha10hourtrainingmissouri.com for more details.
OSHA also offers OSHA 7510, Introduction to OSHA for Small Businesses, to assist small business employers in meeting the legal requirements in creating and implementing effective workplace safety and health management systems. Topics in the session include:
- Federal and state safety and health requirements
- Hazard recognition
- Approaches and options to solve safety and health hazards
OSHA 7510 will be offered:
- July 12 and Nov. 8, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Region VII OSHA Training Institute Education Center, Metropolitan Community College - Business & Technology campus, 1775 Universal Ave., Kansas City, 816-604-1000 (details)
- Oct. 15, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., OSHA Training Institute Education Center, Center for Workforce Development, Ozarks Technical Community College, 1001 E. Chestnut Expressway, Springfield, 417-447-7500 (details)
- Oct. 21, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Midwest OSHA Education Center, Saint Louis University School of Public Health, 3545 Lafayette, Suite 300, St. Louis, 800-592-9004
Course cost is $210 per attendee.
Are you or your employees withholding too much federal income tax? Or not enough?
The IRS Withholding Calculator can help you or your employees fill out a new Form W-4, required every time the amount withheld is changed.
The calculator can also benefit anyone with concurrent jobs, couples who are both employed, those entitled to file as Head of Household and those with several children eligible for the Child Tax Credit.
Before you use the calculator, the IRS recommends you:
- Have your most recent pay stub on hand.
- Have your most recent income tax return.
- Estimate values only if you must, remembering that the results will only be as accurate as the input.
We continue to profile the members of the MU Business Development Program Statewide Advisory Board. These highly experienced individuals help guide the programs' activities and decisions; offer input from their respective industries; and advocate for the programs and their clients at the national, state and regional levels. The entire state benefits from the wealth of knowledge these board members bring to the organization.Stanley "Bud" Hayes
Stanley "Bud" Hayes is currently senior vice-president of Mobile Media Technologies LLC, Parkville, providing mass notification and message receiving systems to governmental markets throughout the United States. An experienced small businessman, regional planner and economic developer, Hayes has more than 35 years of leadership experience with such entities as Kaiser Group, Inc., a contractor for the 14-county Workforce Development Board of West Central Missouri, where he managed and supervised three Missouri Career Centers; the Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission in Clinton, which provides development assistance to seven west-central Missouri counties, where he established the only higher education campus in Clinton and created two non-profit 501(c)(3) corporations; and Southern Oklahoma Development Association, a 10-county organization where he established a landfill and a compressed natural gas-fueled fueling station, among other accomplishments. As president of Hayes Enterprises, he also started seven businesses including two travel agencies, a vegetable processing plant and a truck tire manufacturer. He has also taught at his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, and at the State University of New York-Binghamton.
"All my life has been spent in rural areas either assisting small businesses or running my own businesses," Hayes said. "I am a strong believer in small business. That's what built America.
"Increasingly, though, economic developers in cities, counties and states are not chasing smokestacks [bringing in large-scale industries from other regions], but growing companies locally. I think a big part of the board's efforts is coming up with ways and means to do so. And that's why I think the MO SBTDCs are key to Missouri's economy, because they provide the guidance, assistance, counseling and mentoring to those wanting to start or grow a business."
Hayes added that having SBTDCs co-located with universities statewide and University Extension is a huge asset, because they are "the birthplace of so many great ideas. Having these ties gives us a real advantage."Linda Bailey-Glover
Linda Bailey-Glover is senior lender relations specialist at the Kansas City Small Business Administration, helping lenders find the right SBA financial tool; addressing the processing, closing and servicing of SBA loans; monitoring lenders' performance; training lenders and small business owners on SBA capital, counseling and contract programs; and, as district international trade officer, encouraging the use of SBA export lending programs. She has served with the SBA for more than 30 years as an equal employment opportunity officer, business development officer and lead lender relations specialist and has 40 distinguished years of government service in total.
Bailey-Glover also serves as the district's point of contact for the SBTDC program, monitoring its performance and reviewing lead and regional SBTDC centers to ensure compliance with SBA agreements.
Bailey-Glover, who grew up on a farm in southern Arkansas, earned an undergraduate degree in education from Southern Arkansas University and moved to Kansas City to begin her federal service career. She attended UMKC at night to earn a master's degree in public administration with an emphasis in labor relations.
Of the SBTDC's role, Bailey-Glover writes, "Small businesses fail not just because of lack of money, but because of lack of management skills. The SBTDC is one of the main SBA partners that offer management assistance through counseling and training, helping not only fledgling companies stay afloat but stable companies grow and expand. The SBTDCs are an important resource for the growth and survival of small businesses today."
Do you know what your business is worth?
This might seem a question best suited for individuals looking to sell their business and a moot point for individuals just starting an enterprise. But what if a larger entity takes an interest in your brand-new product and offers to buy you out? How can you be assured top dollar for the company you moved heaven and earth to create?
That's where the Business Reference Guide (BRG), available through the MO SBTDC, can help. The 2013 edition of this guide, now in its 23rd year, contains up-to-date rules of thumb and pricing information for more than 700 types of businesses. The BRG also provides:
- Industry-specific reports with data provided by business brokers and other contributors
- Pricing tips from experts in your industry
- Benchmarking data
- Industry resources, such as associations and publications
- General industry data, surveys and comments
- The ability to create a profile for potential buyers branded with your logo, colors and other data
All these tools allow you to confirm the accuracy of your valuations with the most current data.
The MO SBTDC also hosts a specialized finance team trained in the use of the BRG. This team consists of:
- Ken Surbrugg, finance team lead and business development specialist, Missouri Southern State University SBTDC, Joplin
- Rayanna Anderson, director, Missouri State University SBTDC, Springfield
- Kelly Dyer, business development specialist, University of Central Missouri SBTDC, Warrensburg
- Jim Gann, technology business specialist, University of Missouri SBTDC in Columbia
- Kevin Wilson, director, St. Louis SBTDC
- Robbie Davis, business development specialist, Missouri University of Science & Technology, Rolla
Or you may contact a counselor or business development specialist at an SBTDC near you. Visit missouribusiness.net/sbtdc/centers.asp for a full listing of centers.
Every business is different; some businesses, like water parks, custard stands or beachside businesses heat up as the mercury rises. Many other businesses cool down. That doesn't mean you should resign yourself to lower profits; instead, take the opportunity to step back and think of ways to improve your business. Here are four ways to make the most of this down time.
1) Assess your goals.
By June or July, you should have a pretty good idea if your business is on track to meet your annual projections. Take out that list of goals you wrote at the beginning of the year, and make sure you are sticking to them. If not, call your MO SBTDC or PTAC counselor to assist. You might also call key customers and get their feedback as well. They will likely be flattered you want their opinion and will provide good tips to keep them, and all future customers, satisfied.
When you're out there selling your products and services, word of mouth can be one of your most effective marketing tools. Word of mouth marketing is powerful, easy, indirect and usually free, which makes it invaluable to any small business owner.
Many small businesses are built on client referrals and recommendations, because people trust their networks. Think about a consumer or a business owner making a purchase: before buying a new product, purchasing from a vendor, investing in equipment or collaborating on a project, people ask for and listen to the opinions of their colleagues, friends, family and other trusted contacts. We value the experiences of people in our circle, and asking for their feedback is one of the most efficient ways to evaluate a purchasing decision.
Before buying, most of us also read something good or bad about a company or product. Add in social media, and these opinions have the power to significantly help or hurt a business. Everyone has increased access and focus to reviews and recommendations today, so word of mouth plays a significant part in the buying process.
Here are five ways to generate word of mouth buzz that could result in more sales and increased business growth.
1) Exceed expectations.
If you have a reputation for providing exemplary service and high-quality products on a consistent basis, getting customers to toot your horn will be easy. And if customers are regularly complimented on work you have done or the product you have sold, they will likely respond by pointing people in your direction.
The MO SBTDC and MO PTAC offer a variety of outstanding educational opportunities throughout the year. Here are highlights of upcoming events.
The MO SBTDC, University of Missouri Extension, Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and other Branson-area entities will sponsor daily low-cost seminars on sources of finance for small business, how to be a customer service superhero, using social media to enhance your business and growing your business. The week culminates with a small business mixer at Copper Run Distillery in Walnut Shade June 21 from 4-6 p.m. See flyer for details.
The SBA presents National Small Business Week at Harris-Stowe State University, 3026 Laclede Avenue, St. Louis from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 19, with sessions on speed mentoring, taking your business global, finding capital, the Affordable Care Act and more. This event is free. See article above for details. Visit 2013nsbwstlouis.eventbrite.com to register.
The MO SBTDC and the University of Missouri will host CGBP exam training July 30 through August 1 for business professionals ready to further their international trade expertise. This course is designed to allow professionals to pass the National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators (NASBITE) CGBP exam. Training will cover the exam's primary content areas: global business management, marketing, resources, data sources and supply chain management with a focus on export facilitation and trade finance. The course instructor is expert international sales and marketing trainer Jim Foley, author of The Global Entrepreneur, past president of NASBITE, national co-chair of the ASBDC International Trade Committee and director of the Turner Center for Entrepreneurial Operations at the Illinois SBDC. Course fee is $500. To register, please contact Yvetta Hamilton at email@example.com or 573-884-1555. For more information, contact Larry Dill, MO SBTDC International Trade Center director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or register online.
Don't miss the 2013 National Veterans Small Business Conference, the premier annual event for veterans to connect directly with procurement decision makers and potential partners, build capacity and grow their businesses, to be held August 6-8 in America's Center Convention Complex, 701 Convention Plaza, downtown St. Louis.
This event, co-sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, can help veteran business people get an edge on the competition in the crucial government contracting industry. No other event provides such an opportunity to be up close and personal with hundreds of government and commercial procurement decision makers, and participants can choose from more than 325 sessions where government and commercial buyers outline their procurement requirements for 2014 and 2015.
Last year, 77 percent of surveyed participants connected with procurement decision makers from federal agencies and commercial partners, according to the organization. To register or for more information, go to nationalveteransconference.com or email email@example.com.
The 16th annual Missouri Recycling Association Conference will be held September 16-18 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, Jefferson City. This intensive three-day educational conference offers concurrent sessions on recycling and composting, social marketing, green business practices, storm debris management, construction and debris, economics of recycling, legislative topics and more.
Keynote speaker will be "rock star of sustainability" Dr. Neil Seldman. The conference will also feature a behind-the-scenes Lincoln University sustainability tour and a tour of the former Missouri State Penitentiary, which was recycled from a federal facility into an historical site; some of the penitentiary's building materials were also recycled to form the foundation for the adjacent Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Lewis and Clark building, the first LEED platinum government building in the country. To register or for more information, go to MORAConference.org.
Don't miss the fourth annual Missouri Technology Expo, to be held at the Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri in Columbia, on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Speakers include Han Chen, co-founder and managing director of Kapyon Ventures, LLC, a San-Diego based technology incubation firm, which has successfully spun out three portfolio companies as well as MO SBTDC client and success story Toby Rush, CEO of EyeVerify and Karl Kochendorfer, CEO, MedSocket, co-presenting on the next big thing. Rush and EyeVerify pioneered ultra-secure "eyeprinting" via mobile devices; MedSocket is a search tool that aggregates medical information databases for care providers. This dynamic event also includes the Tiger Cage, at which early-stage technology representatives may pitch their technologies and the dedication of the new University of Missouri Research Commons. This Expo can help you establish key relationships with potential commercial partners, academia and industry partners. To register or for more information go to motechexpo.missouri.edu/index.php.
Accredited Member of the ASBDC
America's Small Business Development Centers
Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
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