Starting up a business is not as easy as turning on the “open” sign hanging in the center of a newly shined front window. From drafting a business plan and managing finances to branding and logo creation, budding entrepreneurs have a lot on their plates. Once established in business, owners then need to build and maintain clientele, which is not always a simple task.
However, business professionals can find support through Naperville Public Library. Since the beginning of the year, the library began getting the word out about its new business-focused initiative coined NaperLaunch – a business start-up center that provides resources, workshops and services for entrepreneurs and start-up companies. In the upcoming weeks, the library will officially open a dedicated space at its Nichols Library location, 200 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, for the NaperLaunch Business Start-up Center.
This space will become a central meeting place for entrepreneurs. Weekly meet-ups, monthly workshops and other special events will be held in a space that is also available for private meetings, networking sessions and eventually something akin to co-working spaces.
From receiving a business license to creating a website, the workshops and events will feature many different topics for new and established business owners. Weekly events held on a same-day, same-time schedule will include roundtable discussions. Monthly events will showcase inspirational entrepreneurial talks as well as small business workshops presented by qualified experts. Semi-annual events will consist of week-long programs related to Small Business Week in May and Entrepreneurs Week in October. During these sessions, three to five workshops will cover subjects like market research, patent registration and succession planning. Stay tuned for more information on future workshops coming out this Fall.
As the start-up community becomes informed and actively participates in NaperLaunch, there will be new opportunities for entrepreneurs to become acquainted with one another, and hopefully, that will lead to new business development and partnership opportunities. Naperville is a large enough community that such an innovation space should be located here supporting local innovators and keeping them in DuPage County instead of forcing them to seek these services elsewhere.
As part of NaperLaunch, library staff members have offered and will continue to offer one-to-one appointments for library customers who seek expertise and help to gain access to business-related resources.
In one-to-one sessions, library customers are given customized assistance and guidance on how to use the library to achieve whatever information goal they may have. It might include identifying what database to access and how to use that database to develop industry or market information about products, competitors, customers and other service providers.
The library also provides remote access to about a dozen business-related online databases for library cardholders.
Some of the online resources provide directory-type information about companies and residents. These can be used to create contact or mailing lists of potential customers, partners or competitors.
NaperLaunch was started as a library initiative in conjunction with Naperville Development Partnership and the City of Naperville. Other partners, like the Fox Valley chapter of SCORE and the Small Business Development Center at College of DuPage, have joined in the effort in recent months.
We think entrepreneurs and business owners will benefit from having a central location for business start-up activity and events in Naperville. But, more importantly, the ultimate vision is for NaperLaunch to help create a space for innovators to come to work, network and develop business opportunities together that might not have come about without NaperLaunch.