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It’s Never Too Late to Launch a Startup

That’s the idea behind guest writer Thomas Knauff’s new article in Entrepreneur.com online magazine.  And although Mr. Knauff is in his sixties and has logged 21 years between his first and latest startup ventures, his ideas are valuable to entrepreneurs of all ages.  Here are his main points:

 1. Seek out investors who know your industry

“We looked for partners who would make their investment decisions based on industry drivers and our longer-term growth prospects, and not the short-term pressures of a VC or PE fund investment cycle.”  If your investors are not knowledgeable about your industry, you may get blindsided or undercut by differing expectations and time horizons.

2. Embrace the nuance of your company’s finances

“Without finance, nothing else matters because the resources won’t be there to make it happen.”  Hard to say it any better than this!  Take the time to really understand the financial details.

3. Learn everything about your sales operation

“Everything that happens in a company depends on someone selling something.”  It’s critical to understand the sales cycle and the factors driving your customers’ purchase decisions.

4. Do something that reflects your personal values and motivations

“Deep commitments can keep you going during the toughest days.”  Most entrepreneurs have lots of tough days!

5. Become a student of the organizational dynamic, that is, how people behave and react to one another

“The organizational dynamic is pivotal to the success of every entrepreneurial venture; many leaders cast it aside as something to attend to later...and most investors think it’s fluff because they can’t calculate its value relative to EBITDA.”  However, anyone who has looked at a newspaper or tuned in to the news recently has been struck by how many organizations are struggling with cultural issues, sexism, and inter-generational forces.  Don’t wait to address these issues!

Posted: 
Monday, January 22, 2018 - 8:30am

4 Invaluable Business Startup Services at NaperLaunch

Hidden away at Naperville Public Library are services and resources that may prove invaluable to a startup entrepreneur. Here are four key services that can be found at NaperLaunch, our business startup services center and coworking space.

Guidance and Mentoring

Library reference staff can guide startup entrepreneurs to the vast array of library resources that respond to specific needs. They can also give instruction on the use of online resources. Of course, guidance can also be obtained from books on every subject pertaining to business startup. Library staff is also familiar with government resources and websites. Since the library business services staff knows and understands these materials, they can easily guide people quickly to the right resources.

The library partners with SCORE, a volunteer organization of experienced business leaders that provide mentoring. Libraries may also offer access to resources that list business advisers in the areas of accounting, legal structure, marketing, developing a web presence, SEO, and many other subjects pertinent to startup and general business management. The online resources such as AtoZ Databases, Mergent Intellect, and others can provide contact information for adviser or membership organizations.

Market Research

The online resources are authoritative sources of information that far exceed the depth, quality and relevancy of search results generally available in web searches. Databases such as Plunkett Research Online, LexisNexis, Business Insights and DemographicsNow offer much more information about markets, consumers, competitors, suppliers and industry trends than can be found in a web search. This is because the data available in these databases comes from research companies that sell the data in these formats and don’t make it available in the open web.

Entrepreneurs can literally develop all the information necessary for a startup’s strategic marketing plan right from the library’s databases and print resources.

Business Planning

Many entrepreneurs who come to the library for guidance have never even seen a business plan, let alone written one. Through several different resources at the library, entrepreneurs have access to previously written plans in every type of business imaginable which can be a helpful guide or template for writing a plan.

The Gale Small Business Builder software, available at NaperLaunch, can be used to create a business plan ‘to take to the bank’. This is a top of the line software application that was, in fact, developed by a local entrepreneur in Naperville.

Such tools are indispensable for the new startup that is seeking to gain new partners, senior level employees or investors.

Workshops and Meetups

Meeting in a session with other entrepreneurs and listening to a presentation from a subject expert is another great way to gain meaningful insights into the startup and business management processes. Getting acquainted in less formal sessions with fellow startups creates a community of support as well as learning.

Such events often enhance learning because other entrepreneurs are on hand to help the new startups decipher what is being presented. Another side benefit may be the opportunity to connect with a local SCORE mentor, as these workshops are frequently sponsored by the SCORE chapter.

These four key services only scratch the surface of what is available at NaperLaunch. The coworking space nurtures an environment of networking and collaboration with other entrepreneurs. New startups should not overlook the extensive and free resources at NaperLaunch when seeking guidance and assistance along the entrepreneurial path.

 

Adapted from a previous LinkedIn article.

Posted: 
Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 8:00am

The most effective way to find a new job

We have all heard the old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” It is amazing to discover the extent to which this is true.

In a recent LinkedIn global survey, almost 80% of respondents consider professional networking to be important to career success. In fact, in 2016 70% of people were hired at a company where they had a connection.

Unfortunately, networking behaviors don’t always match these positive attitudes. Almost 40% of LinkedIn survey respondents find it hard to keep in touch with their network. The major reason: lack of time.

A more detailed study conducted in 2016 by Lou Adler reveals exactly which job search methods resulted in a successful hire. Networking is by far the most effective, especially for those not actively searching for a new job.

Now may be the time to invest in your professional connections. On November 15 at Nichols Library, Cathy Giacobbe from the Naperville Community Career Center will give a workshop on networking and personal branding for job seekers. The presentation will provide strategies and guidance on job search networking to develop new opportunities to get around the online application black hole. If you would like to hear more, please join us. You will find the information here.

Posted: 
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 9:15am

SCORE Women’s Business Roundtable

Are you a woman who operates her own business or is thinking of starting a business?  A new discussion group focusing on women entrepreneurs has recently started at the Library and we welcome you to attend.
Moderated by a SCORE Mentor and hosted by NaperLaunch staff, this is a lively open-discussion format where questions, ideas and topics are shared and participants provide the answers from personal experiences.  There is no pre-set theme or topic; rather, the focus is on issues proposed by the participants themselves.

This free event takes place on the first Wednesday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the 95th Street Library, 3015 Cedar Glade Drive in Naperville.

The next Women’s Business Roundtable will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 4th in the Nomura Room (Meeting Room C) on the first floor of the 95th St. Library.  We hope to see you there!

Posted: 
Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 1:45pm

Small Business Has Big Impact on U.S. Economy

Did you know that 99% of all independent businesses in the U.S. employ fewer than 500 people? This means that small business technically dominates the U. S. market, accounting for 52% of all workers. Here are a few more numbers from the Small Business Administration:

  • The 28 million small businesses in America account for 54% of all U.S. sales.
  • Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s.
  • The 600,000 plus franchised small businesses in the U.S. account for 40% of all retail sales and provide jobs for some 8 million people.

Furthermore, the small business sector is growing rapidly. While corporate America has been "downsizing", the rate of small business "start-ups" has grown, and the rate for small business failures has declined.

  • The number of small businesses in the United States has increased 49% since 1982.
  • Since 1990, as big business eliminated 4 million jobs, small businesses created 8 million new jobs.

One of the reasons small businesses do so well in the United States economy is agility—their readiness to respond quickly to economic pressures and local community needs. Small businesses are also innovative compared to major corporations, though some of the tech industry's biggest corporations started out as “hobby” projects and sole proprietorships. In general, entrepreneurship provides and easier entry point into the economy, particularly for those facing disadvantages in the workforce, namely women and minorities. Building a business has always been part of the American dream.
New entrepreneurs thinking about the possibility of starting up should consider taking advantage of the many workshops, learning opportunities and resources available at NaperLaunch. NaperLaunch is a business startup center and coworking space at the Nichols Library in downtown Naperville. Find out more about NaperLaunch programs.

Posted: 
Monday, July 3, 2017 - 10:30am