Barbosa's Mexican Restaurant, a landmark eatery with two locations in St. Joseph, recently expanded into a third franchise in a prime location in downtown Kansas City. This express, lunch-only version of the eatery is owned by Chelsea Taylor, a recent Missouri Western State University (MWSU) business management graduate who always wanted to share the recipes she'd cherished since childhood in a new city. As a member of a family that had owned restaurants, she knew the business from the ground up, having worked in almost every role from clean up to busboy and barkeep.
What she didn't know was how to convert her dream into reality.
So she sought the help of Rebecca Evans, an experienced business counselor with the Northwest Missouri State University SBTDC in St. Joseph. Rebecca helped Chelsea zero in on the best location with research into potential markets' number of households and housing units, median household income, median home value, per capita income, available labor force, consumer spending patterns and much more. Evans then helped Taylor write a business plan that got immediate results: a $55,000 SBA loan and a lease on a location in downtown Kansas City right across from city hall.
Read this complete story with additional photos.
Q & A: Creating a job versus finding a job
St. Louis natives Drs. Kim Folwarski and Christy Hayes, aged 27 and 29 respectively, didn't grow up together. They attended different high schools and graduated from colleges more than 300 miles apart, Folwarski from Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, where she earned a bachelor's degree in biology; Hayes from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, earning a bachelor's degree in graphic arts.
Once they started attending the Saint Louis College of Optometry, however, they put their entrepreneurial destiny into motion.
How to secure a quarter million dollar loan from the SBA
Q: How do you secure $250,000 in SBA loans?
A: Through patience, details, diligence, persistence and SBTDC know-how.
Folwarski and Hayes had some seed capital but not nearly enough to start their own practice.
So they turned to Tucker to help with their financials.
Tucker guided the young optometrists through three-year financial statements covering all operating expenses and annual revenue projections. They then presented to a bank. The bank balked. A sticking point was collateral and the roughly $9,000 in equipment Folwarski and Hayes had accumulated over the course of their education. Tucker helped them revise the presentation, and they tried again.
The bank came through with the SBA-backed loan in December 2011. Wildwood Vision Specialists, LLC, opened eight months later.
Both Hayes and Folwarski had exposure in the field. Hayes worked over summers and Christmas breaks at an ophthalmology practice, and Folwarski's parents were pharmacists. Folwarski decided that optometry gave her the most flexibility in juggling work and family. When Hayes and Folwarski met, they clicked almost immediately. Both recognized the fire and drive in each other, realizing their skills and personalities were complementary. They found good jobs at the same eye care emporium in St. Louis after graduation.
Just one year later, on Aug. 30, 2012, the young optometrists proudly presided over the grand opening of Wildwood Vision Specialists, LLC, in Wildwood, Mo., thanks in no small part to Greg Tucker, business specialist with the St. Louis regional SBTDC.
Tucker gives presentations around the area, and had spoken to an optometry class on practice management. It was a presentation the far-sighted friends didn't even attend.
But what they heard from classmates was enough to get their entrepreneurial motors revving.
"From my perspective, one cool point is that they attended the college of optometry when I wasn't even offering the course," said Tucker. "They took my materials and developed a very thorough business plan then called me to help tune it up and work on the financials. What they accomplished with their plan was pretty amazing. They didn't contact me until they'd already written a very detailed plan."
So why did two young optometrists make the huge decision to take a crack at a specialty market in today's iffy economy?
Read this complete story including a Q & A.
Many U.S. companies have felt the adverse effects of international competition producing goods at a lower price than they can be made in this country. In 1974, the U.S. Department of Commerce, through its Economic Development Administration, created the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program to help firms affected by low-cost imports.
TAAF is an established program with a proven track record of helping American manufacturers improve their competitiveness in areas such as manufacturing, engineering, marketing, information technology and quality.
A recent independent study conducted by the Urban Institute found that firms participating in the TAAF program grew sales by an average of 33.9 percent, a rate significantly higher than the corresponding industry average.
Here's how it works: A manufacturing firm contacts the Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center in Blue Springs to set up a consultation. A TAAF project manager then walks the company through the process, acquiring the documentation required, including proof of an adverse effect of importing by foreign competitors as evidenced by four years of financial statements and a thorough questionnaire.
If approved, the company is eligible for a grant of up to a $75,000, which the firm must match. Actual loan amounts will vary.
The funding is not a loan or a giveaway. It is a tool TAAF can use to help boost American manufacturing in a fiercely competitive global economy and increase the number of well-paid manufacturing jobs in this country.
A company pays 50 percent of a project but has the potential to reap tremendous results. With TAAF assistance, a manufacturer can immediately put in place improvement strategies that would otherwise be delayed due to financial constraints — meaning a faster realization of bottom line benefits.
For more information, contact:
Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms
1600 NE Coronado Drive
Blue Springs, MO 64014
800-551-8222 or 816-655-3485
For National Guard personnel or reservists, deployment is a very challenging time.
Traveling thousands of miles from home to serve in a hostile environment is bad enough for service personnel, but it can be downright disastrous for their small businesses.
How can they ensure the business endures, even grows in their absence?
Operation Endure and Grow is an SBA-funded educational program for National Guard personnel and reservists to help them and family members learn to keep a business afloat during deployment.
The eight-week online program is administered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management. The program, open to National Guard, reservists and their family members, consists of a virtual classroom suite of videos, webinars, flexible homework assignments to better accommodate deployment, virtual office hours and discussions with other classmates.
The program is offered regularly every two months and capped at 50 people per session. Enrollment can vary based on deployment cycles.
Having a college degree or even having taken college-level courses is not necessary to participate. The registration fee is $75. Participants must prove military status or, if a dependent, offer proof through the sponsor's Leave and Earning Statement (LES). Item 51 on the LES indicates the type of dependent.
Operation Endure and Grow is the only SBA initiative for National Guard personnel and reservists. In addition, military spouses and female reservists can participate in another SBA-backed program called V-WISE (Veteran Women Igniting the Spark of Entrepreneurship).
To learn more, visit whitman.syr.edu/endureandgrow.
Few things are as aggravating or lead to as many failed businesses as less-than-adequate cash flow. How cash flows through your firm from sale to invoice to receipt is the lifeblood of any company, and accelerating it allows you to do more and ensure your company's stability.
Another factor, often overlooked, is that if customers take longer to pay you than you take to pay vendors, you are really lending your customers money.
Here are seven tips to speed up your cash flow:
Offer discounts. Offer customers price discounts. No one likes to pay more if they don't have to. Make sure you highlight the discount in the contract and invoice, too. Some customers might surprise you and overnight a check to make sure they don't miss the discount.
Smartphone apps are multiplying by the hundreds each week. There are thousands of apps to make our family, personal and business lives easier. For entrepreneurs, it's crucial to find the ones that will actually make a difference, not just create bright, flashy graphics.
Keep one cardinal rule in mind: You need apps that provide enterprise-like power on a smaller scale.
- Square. The Square Card Reader, not much bigger than your thumbnail, turns a smartphone into a mobile cash register and makes payment by Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express much easier. Square's standard fee is 2.75 percent per swipe; in mid-August, Square announced it would give small U.S. businesses (defined as up to $250,000 a year in transactions through Square) the option of paying a flat fee of $275 a month rather than the 2.75 percent fee. At that rate, this makes sense for businesses processing more than $10,000 a month. squareup.com
Getting a big retailer to pick up your product is tough. Take a walk through any big retailer, though, and you'll see small brands that have made their way onto the shelves next to mega brands.
How does a small business break into a big box store? Here are a few tips on convincing buyers your product is the one for them.
- Create a realistic price.
Review the products that most closely compete with yours in the retailer you are targeting. This should give you a likely price point and help you see if your cost is realistic. These comparisons can only help. You won't be as easily dismissed if you're realistic.
- Know your product.
Most retailers are well aware of the value of innovation, although some are more risk-averse than others. If you can express compelling reasons why this retailer would be successful with the innovations your product offers, you'll likely get a more positive reception. Having a clear understanding of the benefit or solution you are offering to the retailer's customer base will show that you really understand your product, its unique selling points and the retailer.
The Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers and Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers offer a variety of outstanding educational opportunities throughout the year. Here are highlights of some upcoming events.
This three-part live simulcast session, presented by FBI experts, will cover general "Awareness of Economic Espionage" and how important it is for a company to protect its intellectual property and proprietary information.
An FBI agent and an SBTDC counselor will be present at each of the five host locations (St. Louis, Springfield, Cape Girardeau, Rolla and Kansas City) on Sept. 19 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This event is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited, and pre-registration is required.
You may also register to participate in this interactive webinar from your own facility. Prior to the webinar you will receive an email with login and call in information and passwords.
To register, call John Woodson at 573-341-7544 or send an email with name, address and phone number to email@example.com.
Reminder: don't miss the 2012 Missouri Business Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler is honorary host.
For more details and registration information visit missouribusiness.net/sbtdc/Hartzler or contact the University of Central Missouri SBTDC at 660-543-4402.
The Quality Coach!® in association with Missouri University of Science & Technology and East Central College, Center for Workforce Development proudly present the Learn it, Live it, Leader-Shop™ for senior and mid-level managers, to be held at the Small Business & Technology Development Center, Innovation Technology Park, 900 Innovation Drive, Suite 200, Rolla, Mo., from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Sept. 26. The center is across the street from Phelps County Regional Medical Center.
Whether you are a seasoned manager or new to management, this workshop will help you navigate the sometimes treacherous path of leading and managing. The coaching team will provide participants with practical principles and best practices in an environment where leaders learn from one another.
Fee is $155 per participant; $145 if three or more individuals from the same entity attend.
Learn it, Live it, Leader-shop™ is a series of four events:
- From Individual Contributor to Leader - Sept. 26
- Quality Communications - Oct. 24
- Leading Meetings that Matter - Nov. 28
- The Science of Delegation - Dec. 5
For more information contact Robert Davis at 573-341-6272 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need some grant-writing assistance? Let us help you write winning proposals!
Missouri's SBIR Boot Camp is a unique writing workshop for principal investigators (PIs) in small, for-profit businesses that need to accelerate the Phase I proposal preparation process to fit into their busy work schedules.
By pairing PIs with professional technical writers and editors in formal writing sessions, past Boot Camp survivors were able to write more than 80 percent of their Phase I proposals in just two days, instead of the 3-4 weeks typically invested in this effort. Reading behind the PIs — in real-time — editors quickly find and correct manuscript errors, organize complex materials and provide the professional "wordsmithing" often lacking in the PI's skill set.
The Boot Camp series currently underway is underwritten by a grant to the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers (SBTDC) from the Small Business Administration. It allows us to greatly reduce the tuition we normally charge for this unique program to a price easily affordable, even for startups.
Here's how it will work: If you would like to work with a grant writer on an upcoming proposal, you may do so at a time convenient to you and the writer. Sessions can be scheduled in six areas of the state: Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla, St. Joseph, St. Louis and Warrensburg. The MO SBTDC will help facilitate the partnership between your firm and the grant writer. You may work with the writer for up to two full days at a mutually agreeable location.
The boot camp is underwritten by a grant to the SBTDC from the Small Business Administration.
To participate in a session near you, contact one of the following locations:
- Missouri University of Science and Technology SBTDC in Rolla — 573-341-7584
- Northwest Missouri State University SBTDC in Maryville — 660-562-1701
- University of Central Missouri SBTDC in Warrensburg — 660-543-4402
- University of Missouri SBTDC in Columbia — 573-882-7096
- University of Missouri SBTDC in Kansas City — 816-235-6063
The University of Missouri-Kansas City's Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic, 4747 Troost Avenue, Suite 213, Kansas City, Mo., presents a workshop on Limited Liability Entities: What they are, why you may want to become a limited liability company and how to make that happen. The discussion will include vital federal tax and filing requirements.
There is no fee for attending this workshop.
For information please contact Judy Sharp, UMKC Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic, at 816-235-6341.
Join us for the 10th annual Manufacturing Summit, presented by CPA and business consulting firm Rubin Brown, to be held Wednesday, Oct. 24 from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Board Room of Kansas City's historic Union Station, 30 West Pershing Road. This summit is for CEOs, CFOs, HR managers, supply chain managers and any other manufacturing official interested in growing your business through innovation, workforce solutions and global strategy.
The fee of $65 includes breakfast and lunch. For more information or to register, email email@example.com or call 816-374-5469.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City cordially invites you to the regional Grow Your Own Conference, to be held Oct. 30 and 31 in Kearney, Neb.
The registration fee of $50 includes a continental breakfast, lunch buffet, dinner and a Tuesday evening reception.
For more information, please contact Glenna York at 402-221-5589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accredited Member of the ASBDC
Association of Small Business Development Centers.
Representing America's SBDC Network
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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