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4 Invaluable Business Startup Services Available at NaperLaunch

As of June 14, most Naperville Public Library services have been restored to full capacity. This includes NaperLaunch, the business startup services center and coworking space located at the Nichols Library in downtown Naperville.

Reopening means not only that our spaces and technology resources are available, including the free coworking space, conference rooms, and public computers and software, but also a reinvigoration of the NaperLaunch community, which is built on the people we connect with and the opportunities we create.

Whether you’re a returning regular or encountering us for the first time, we encourage you to take advantage of the key (and free) services that can be found at NaperLaunch:

1.Guidance and Mentoring

NaperLaunch coaches, including business librarians and volunteer mentors, guide entrepreneurs and small business owners through the process of starting or growing a business.

Members of the library’s Business Services team can provide a one-on-one orientation to the library’s business resources. Set up an appointment to learn about our workshops, roundtable discussions, and master mind groups and receive a demonstration on how to use our online resources to conduct market research, create mailing lists, or write a business plan.

In addition, the library partners with SCORE Fox Valley, a volunteer organization of experienced business leaders who mentor entrepreneurs and small business owners. SCORE mentors provide customized assistance in starting and expanding a business. SCORE volunteers attend at NaperLaunch events and accept appointments for individual mentoring sessions.

2.Business Education

The NaperLaunch Academy offers a focused curriculum to help entrepreneurs develop fundamental business knowledge and learn the “lean startup process.” To meet the needs of busy entrepreneurs, the curriculum is presented in two formats: live workshops or self-guided virtual courses.

A series of evening workshops are offered on a rotating basis, with the next session beginning July 7. Participants can choose the workshops and sequence that best meet their needs. These live, interactive workshops are currently offered via Zoom videoconference.

For those looking to work through the courses on their own schedule, a sequence of 17 NaperLaunch Academy class sessions can be accessed on demand via the NaperLaunch BizVids webpage. Videorecorded sessions for each course are presented with links to handouts and PowerPoint presentations.

3.Peer Learning Opportunities

Peer learning experiences are designed to spark collaboration and productivity through group discussion and coaching.

Business roundtables are moderated open discussions addressing issues faced by the entrepreneurs and business owners who attend. These interactive discussions are designed to spark interactive communication. Participants take advantage of collaboration and networking opportunities as they gain significant insights on how to enhance productivity, strategic marketing, and overall business success through group discussion and coaching. Discussions are moderated by SCORE volunteers, who have extensive business management and business mentoring experience.

Several roundtable options are offered, including a monthly startup-focused roundtable, a roundtable specifically for women’s business owners, and an evening session offered in conjunction with the NaperLaunch Academy.

Master mind groups bring together established business owners. Each meeting supports collaboration and accountability through discussion, sharing insights, problem solving, and goal setting. Business advisors attend and add insights to the conversation in each meeting. Group members become intimately acquainted with the business models and plans of each participant.

4.Library Resources

Naperville Public Library has extensive online resources to help small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business plans, research market data and demographics, and more. The online resources are authoritative sources of information that far exceed the depth, quality, and relevance of search results generally available in web searches. They can be accessed from within the library, or from anywhere with your Naperville Public Library card number and PIN.

In addition, the library maintains a business reference collection that can be used in the library and a collection of business books that may be checked out with a library card. Business magazines and newspapers are also available.

Market Research

Using databases such as Reference Solutions and Gale Business: DemographicsNow, entrepreneurs can access information about markets, consumers, competitors, suppliers, and industry trends. This data comes from research companies and is only available on a subscription basis; it cannot be found in a web search. Entrepreneurs can develop all the information necessary for a startup’s strategic marketing plan by using the library’s databases and print resources.

Business Planning

Through several different resources at the library, entrepreneurs have access to example plans for every type of business imaginable, which can be a helpful guide or template for writing a plan. In addition, the Gale Business: Plan Builder software can be used to create a business plan to “take to the bank.” This top-of-the-line software application was, in fact, developed by a local entrepreneur in Naperville. Such tools are indispensable for a startup that is seeking to gain new partners, senior level employees, or investors.

These four key services only scratch the surface of what is available at NaperLaunch. Our coworking space nurtures an environment of networking and collaboration with other entrepreneurs, and our cutting-edge technology allows our members to produce professional results without the price tag. New startups should not overlook the extensive resources at NaperLaunch when seeking guidance and assistance along the entrepreneurial path.

To learn more, visit our website.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021 - 1:45pm

What to do Once You’ve Landed the Interview

You’ve landed a job interview. Congratulations! Now what?

It’s time to prepare as much as possible and put your best self forward. Here are some tips, tricks, and ideas to help you prepare for that all-important interview.

  1. Research the Company – Learn about the challenges of the organization and consider how your skills and background can help defeat those challenges. Check out these NPL databases to help you research background information:
    • Mergent Intellect: Public, private, and international business data and profiles, plus consumer demographic data to generate insightful business intelligence.
    • Mergent Online: Delivers comprehensive company, industry, and market intelligence. Provides profiles and financials of U.S. and international companies.
  2. Prepare for Common Interview Questions – There are many different types of interview questions: behavioral, brain teasers, and skill assessments, to name just a few. Be ready with specific examples of past performance, successes, and challenges or failures that you overcame. Check out this NPL database to prepare:
    • Brainfuse JobNow!: Live job search assistance from job coaches including resume and cover letter help and live interview practice and feedback, plus online resources and links.
  3. Plan the Day – Solidify the timeline for the day. Consider the time required to drive to the office, or to set up your computer if interviewing virtually. Decide on an outfit. Run a practice of the timeline, drive to the location, and verify traffic or other concerns. Have a technology back-up plan for your computer.
  4. After the Interview – Follow up with your point of contact(s) with a brief message. Be sure to say thank you in a meaningful way and express your sincere gratitude and interest in the position.

Further Reading Resources:
The Ultimate Job Interview Preparation Guide - Glassdoor
7 Things to Research Before Any Job Interview - Glassdoor
Salary Negotiation Skills – AAUW

Thursday, June 17, 2021 - 9:45am

7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

Running a business is tough. Whether you're a brand-new startup or an operating company, it’s important make sure you've considered your own strengths, weaknesses, and reasons for wanting to be an entrepreneur.

In the NaperLaunch Academy, participants use an entrepreneur profile questionnaire to reflect on whether entrepreneurship is a good fit with their interests, skills, and life circumstances. For those who have already started a business, this profile can provide deeper insight into how they and their organization affect each other.

If you’re considering starting your own business, ask yourself these seven questions to assess whether you're ready to take the leap.

  1. Why do you want to start a business?

    What brought you to this point? Is your reason personal, opportunity based, or a mixture of both? For example, do you want more flexibility with your time and energy? Do you want to be your own boss?

  2. What do you know how to do?

    Do you have any specific skills or experience that can help you in this business? Are you a quick learner? Can you gain the skills you need in a timely manner? Do you have expertise in finance, operations, sales, or marketing? How well do you know the market you are entering? Do you know what it takes to make your product or service successful? Are you a good problem solver?

  3. What do you love to do?

    If you have free time, how do you spend it? Do your hobbies fall in line with the business you’re thinking of starting? Does your personality match up with the type of business you’re thinking of? Will you still like what you do when it becomes your source of income?

  4. What personal and professional relationships do you have that can support your business?

    Would you want to partner with someone who has similar or complementary skills? Do you know people with skills, tools, capital, property, or connections that could help you? If you seek help from someone you know, can you accurately gauge their skills or resources?

  5. What kind of support network can you rely upon?

    Building a business can be very stressful; on whom can you rely for emotional support? If your business doesn't take off financially right away, how can you make sure basic needs are met for yourself and your family?

  6. What are your resources?

    Do you have enough cash on hand to get started? Is there anything you can use as collateral if you need a loan? Do you have investors lined up to fund your business, or do you know any in case you need investment in the future?

  7. How do you handle setbacks?

    Do you set realistic expectations? How do you manage your blind spots? How have you learned from past mistakes? In what ways have you shown resilience when facing challenges?

If your answers support your desire to start a business, NaperLaunch can help! Register for an upcoming NaperLaunch Academy workshop or schedule a one-on-one mentoring session with a business librarians, NaperLaunch coach, or SCORE mentor.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - 3:45pm

Take Stock of Your Finances with These Useful Library Tools

Did you put some money in your 401k years ago but have no idea if it’s where you should be investing now?

Are you worried about having enough to retire or pay for college?

April is Financial Literacy Month, a great time to take stock of your financial future. The Naperville Public Library offers several different databases to get you started, all of which can be accessed from home with your NPL card.

Morningstar Investment Research Center includes reports and analysis on mutual funds, stock, and ETFs. Portfolio tools and calculators help you determine what your asset mix should be and how your investments are working together. Retirement Cost and College Savings calculators are also included.

The library also subscribes to an online version of ValueLine. Like the popular print resource, it includes ratings and reports for 3,500 stocks and 2,000 mutual funds, plus research on companies, industries, options, convertibles and ETFs.

Another great finance-related database is the Weiss Financial Ratings Series, which includes information and ratings for banks, credit unions, insurance companies, stocks, and mutual funds, as well as plus financial planning and investment tools. It also includes financial literacy publications such as Financial Literacy Basics, Financial Literacy: Planning for the Future, and Financial Literacy: How to Become an Investor. Free financial planning tools are also included.

For more information on any of these databases, or to set up a virtual one-on-one appointment for a demonstration, please contact a member of the Business Services Team.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 10:45am

Next NaperLaunch Academy Workshop Series Starts April 6

Whether you are thinking of starting a business or are already in business, the NaperLaunch Academy can help build your entrepreneurial skills.

The Academy offers a focused curriculum to help entrepreneurs develop fundamental business knowledge and learn the “lean startup process.” To meet the needs of busy entrepreneurs, the curriculum is presented in two formats: pre-recorded video courses (available on demand via our website) and live workshops.

The next series of six workshops and two roundtable discussions begins Tuesday, April 6. Each 2-hour virtual workshop covers a particular business startup skill, from business conceptualization to marketing and sales. Participants can register for the full series or choose the workshops that best fit their needs. The roundtable discussions, scheduled at the midpoint and conclusion of each workshop series, are Q&A sessions intended to assist participants in applying what is taught in the workshops.

Registration is now open. For more information, including schedules, registration links, and session descriptions, visit the NaperLaunch Academy webpage.

Monday, March 22, 2021 - 2:15pm