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Local Business SceneThe Small Business Journey to SuccessBY JOHN HARTOver the past six months, the staff of the Small Busi- ness Economic Development Fund (EDF) of the City of Battle Creek has been studying the local economythrough retention and attraction visits with small business owners and entre- preneurs. With each visit, we gain a bet- ter understanding of the potential and real barriers to launching, sustaining, and growing a business. One particular challenge noted is access to capital for new startups and early stage business- es without proven sales history. Data collected through the Small Business Administration (SBA) shows this is not unique to Battle Creek, but a challenge that exists nationwide.A recent Wells Fargo Small Busi- ness Index study indicates that theaverage small business launch runs $10,000 for startup capital (high tech startups use $80,000). The SBA notes that about half of new startups rely on cash of owners and their relatives with the other half using financing sources such as personal loans, credit cards, and business loans; a method common- ly referred to as boot-strapping. SBA data also shows that business loans for young firms are only awarded to about 19% of those in need of financing. The other 81% of young businesses use al- ternative funding outside of banks. The reality is that there is no one “right” way to obtain financing for a new or early stage business.When nearly 80% of businesses fail within one year and only 50% of those succeeding make it past five years, the data collected through the Bureau of Labor Statistics validates what finan- cial institutions have learned through the years: small business is risky. Thecasual observer sees this happen within our local commercial districts in real time. It is often mistaken for a sign of a poor economy or the fault of the commu- nity for lack of support, when in reality it is the nature of business. It can be a bit messy and disheartening. Our goal is to offset this inherent failure rate with good business planning and commercial dis- trict improvement.Creating a solid business plan with financial projections based in reality is a challenging, but necessary, step in the process. Without a well thought out, researched plan it can be easy for busi- nesses to overestimate early revenues and underestimate costs. Running out of cash is a very common theme. The EDF partners with local and region- al resources to provide entrepreneurs every opportunity to fully examine their business model with business counsel- ors and experts from a broad network. Generation E Institute in Battle Creek, the Small Business Development Cen- ter and SCORE all provide general business planning at no charge.The EDF is in the process of launch- ing programs and services to fill gaps in the ecosystem. Financial forums, ed- ucational programming and sector spe- cific joint collaborations are currently underway. In February, the EDF will host an informational session for com- mercial lenders from local banks and credit unions sharing EDF objectives and activities. Our goal is to learn more about financial resources available for local projects and small businesses so that we can work with our entrepreneur ecosystem to fill the gaps.Other programs in the works include “Marketing Mondays” connecting local expertise with small business owners in need of practical guidance to execute low-cost marketing strategies and Busi- ness Pitch events launching new busi- nesses within core business districts. The EDF programs will be held throughout the community in an effort to engage un- derserved populations and cultivate equi- ty. Follow the new Facebook page: Small Business Battle Creek to stay informed. Engage with our team: John Hart jjhart@ or Valerie Byrnes CAPITAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS PARTNERING RESOURCESTogether.WE ARE CREATING A HEALTHY LOCAL ECONOMY.Small Business Development Fund - City of Battle Creek269-966-3355 ext. 1191 | 34 WEST JACKSON STREET, SUITE 3B• MARKETING MONDAYS •Know Your CustomerMarch 5, 2018 12-1pmPresenter: Kayla McCarthy, Allegra B.C.The Truth Behind Your BrandApril 2, 2018, Noon-1pmPresenter: Michelle Barry, Barry Media$10/personFREE to Chamber Members!Hosted by Small Business Development Fund in partnership with Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce. For more information, email vabyrnes@battlecreekmi.gov12 SCENE 4302 I HEALTH & FITNESS

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