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Small Business Enterprise FIRST STEP gets everyone to one table Help navigating the ‘entrepreneur ecosystem’ There comes a time when some people hear a call to go into business for themselves. However, it isn’t easy to start a business. There are many things to consider. Questions such as, “Do I know what I’m getting into?” “How will I pay for equipment or a location?” “What information do I need to get a loan?” and “How do I write a business plan?” are among many that the aspiring entrepreneur must answer. Like many of us, we sometimes need guidance to help us along the path. The path to successful entrepreneurship allows for many missteps, some of which can be rather expensive. Some would-be business owners have tried independent consultants, and others have spent time and money before they even know if their idea is viable. Entrepreneurs have invested in product prototypes without determining their company’s basic steps toward profitability. The problem is that when we embark upon a new project, we quite simply “don’t know what we don’t know.”
Straightening the Path Some time ago, representatives of local organizations that serve entrepreneurs got together along with
Transform Rockford to see if there could be a clear path for those in our area who hope to start or grow their own businesses. We set out to understand what value each of our organizations delivered to would-be entrepreneurs and to define how we could best work together to help people navigate Rockford’s “entrepreneur ecosystem.” We knew missteps, or taking steps out of order, could result in a significant waste of time and capital, so we endeavored to create a “one stop” location for anyone looking to start a business. That one stop is being established and defined through this cooperation of partners. Rockford Biz Launch’s FIRST STEP is a group of partners who will meet every month, on the first Monday, at the Rockford Public Library’s Nordlof Center in downtown Rockford. A number of individuals who assist small businesses are together, in one common space, to provide advice, guidance and direction to those who need it and to answer questions before an individual begins the process. FIRST STEP is meant to be an accessible and approachable venue. We welcome anyone who is interested in developing their own business as well as
any business owners who want guidance regarding how they might grow their business, create greater efficiency or increase their profitability. We encourage you to call or email to let us know you’ll be coming, but we also welcome you to drop-in.
Partners Involved in FIRST STEP Rockford Public Library. Provides information and education on what it takes to start a business and a number of classes to help people looking for guidance in their area of interest. Small Business Development Center. Provides help with business planning, marketing, website and social media, human resources and training. SCORE. Helps coach and guide clients in their area of interest by providing mentors who have been in that business before. Rockford Local Development Corp. Talks about micro loans, SBA loans and funding the business. City of Rockford, Business First. Helps those who are looking to expand or to buy property, and need to know the codes and regulations necessary to begin the business.
EIGERlab. Help with prototyping products or gaining information on making a product. Before one embarks on the task of starting a business, he or she should attend the FIRST STEP meeting to see if the idea makes sense, to begin the process of creating a business plan, financing, and receiving mentoring to help create success. Conversely, if the owner of an existing business wants to determine whether or not they have taken all the steps necessary to maximize profitability and efficiency, FIRST STEP will serve as a valuable opportunity to discuss options with representatives from the various organizations that serve their business needs.
THE DETAILS FIRST STEP meetings will be held in the Large Multi-Purpose Room on the second ﬂoor of the Rockford Public Library’s Nordlof Center, 118 N. Main St., 9 a.m., on the ﬁrst Monday of the month. For more information on the start date, or to sign up to attend, call 815-987-6639 or email BizLaunch @rockfordpubliclibrary.org.