This article is part of our Meeting the Needs Series that is designed to help chamber professionals meet the individual needs of certain market segments. See the footer of this article for a list of posts in this series.
The bad news is that the coronavirus pandemic has done a number on businesses and we’ll likely see many shut down before this pandemic is over.
The good news is that we may also see an uptick in entrepreneurship and the opening of new businesses as traditional employees decide to try things out on their own.
Your chamber will be well-positioned if you help new business get started, grow quickly and stay strong.
Here’s what they’ll need and how to provide it.
Opening a new business can be an exciting time but also one filled with questions.
Several decades ago a new business owner would automatically join the chamber knowing that was the best way to connect with like-minded business owners in the community. That is not always the case these days and many new business owners may feel lost in what the first few steps should be.
Luckily for them, there’s a voice of business in their community, even if they don’t know much about it yet.
Providing for new businesses and ensuring they have somewhere to go to get them on the path to success is an easy way to bring in new members and be a resource in your community.
Since most people who are thinking about opening a business will need to do some research, the easiest way to have an impact on this demographic is by creating a one-stop-shop on your website that provides a potential business owner with everything they need to start a business.
Here’s what you need to provide them with to further their likelihood of success.
CHAMBER BONUS: Keep in mind, there may be a lot of opportunities for sponsorships, advertising, and referrals to members when creating these resources. There are plenty of businesses in your community that offer services that could be helpful. Consider organizations like banks, co-working spaces, attorneys, freelancers, and others that do business with new business.
Help New Business Owners Get Started
Before we get into the list of resources a new business owner needs, let’s talk about that person with entrepreneurial leanings who doesn’t know what kind of business they want to open. They simply know they want to follow their dreams of becoming a business owner.
Now, what about those who know what they want to do? What components should you be organizing for your “starting a new business” web page? You’ll want to include the following:
They need to know the options of the kind of business structures out there such as an LLC, S-corp, and others. Each has its own advantages and incorporation laws vary by state.
Creating a “tools for new businesses” section on your chamber website can be very helpful. There you can talk to the specifics of your state and the differences between the different ways to incorporate. You could also provide resource links or referrals for members such as incorporation lawyers or other professionals in your community that could help new businesses decide on the appropriate business structure for their business.
Part of this process will include securing your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the IRS. The business will need it in order to open a business bank account.
In addition to incorporation, a new business should have a plan. If the owners are looking for investors, this is an absolute necessity. But even if they aren’t, it’s a good thing to chart where the business is going.
The business plan should include things like:
- A mission statement, what the business is designed to do.
- A vision statement, where they are headed.
- Necessary resources and where they will come from.
- The Executive Summary: the what, when, hows of the business at a 30,000-foot level.
- Business Overview, a little more detail than the Executive Summary.
- Operations Plan: the day-to-day processes and responsibilities.
- Market Analysis, who the business is selling to and what that market looks like. What is the possible saturation? Who are the competitors? Include ideas for future expansion as well.
- Products and Services: what is the business selling?
- Marketing: how will the business get its name out there and target its ideal audience? What types of marketing will be used? Who will be doing it?
- Competitive Analysis: what is the competition doing? How effective is it? How successful are they? Is there room for more competition?
- Management Team: who are they and what do they bring to the organization? This part is extremely important if the business is looking for investors.
- Financial plan: how will it be financed? Break it down into the business’s life cycle. Where will financing come from in the beginning, after launch, and as it ages?
Again, you can provide a list of referrals, consultants, resources, or suggestions on the website to ensure all the information a new business owner needs is in one spot. You may even be able to create a revenue stream for placing an ad on that page from businesses that are looking to do business with first-time business owners.
Don’t forget an invitation to attend one of your networking events on the web page. New business owners need contacts!
Open a Bank Account
Even a solo-entrepreneur can benefit by opening a business bank account. It helps keep income straight and makes accounting a little easier. The chamber can easily introduce new business owners to organizations that can help with the record-keeping like a payroll company, CPA, or another financial planner.
Where will the business operate out of? If it’s a brick and mortar store, the new business owner may be looking for locations. In addition to existing known space, think about what development projects are on the horizon? Provide resources on your page about this.
Some chambers offer co-working space or meeting space. This can be ideal to help new businesses. When first starting out, rent may not be a worthwhile expense, especially if a lot of business is done online. Keep in mind that as long as social distancing and limited capacity orders are in place, it may not make sense to spend money on rent. Provide a list of resources for shared spaces as well as technology needs. Speaking of which…
Most new businesses begin with a smaller staff. As they bring in revenue, they’re able to expand. In the meantime, they may look to outsource tasks and responsibilities. Helping these business owners with matchmaking between needs and skills can benefit many of your members.
You could add these individuals to your new business resources page or provide a searchable filter tag for your member directory such as “new business specialist” or “virtual assistant.” Some of these professionals that are helpful to new businesses may include:
- Accounts payable
- Social media specialist
- Content writer
- Technology specialist
Licenses and Permitting
Make sure your resource section also includes information on local licensing, permitting, and fees. You can provide the information directly on your site or link to local organizations that provide the permits. Do they need state permits, local business licenses, or sales tax licenses? Provide a one-stop-shop for the information so new business owners don’t have to go to multiple sites.
New business is wonderful for a community because it means new revenue, interest, and job opportunities. Make sure you provide resources for the new business on places to find local talent easily. This could be a good place to plug your job expo, recruiting services members, and school/training academies.
It’s worth mentioning business insurance on your new business web page because it’s something that new business owners may not think about. It can cover things like product liability or fleet vehicles. Add professionals who can help in this area.
Some new small businesses opt for a Facebook page as their website. Encourage people against that practice. Facebook (or any other social media platform for that matter) could close or switch gears overnight. Businesses have no user agreement with Facebook. There has been no money exchanged for the page. Businesses have no rights when it comes to their content should the site close.
Help businesses understand the importance of having their own “space.” You can also provide a wide range of learning opportunities for the new business owner. Consider lunch and learns on topics of interest like “how to hire and keep great employees,” “social media marketing 101,” and “creating a culture of excellence.”
Finally, we will likely see many people decide to leave traditional employers over the next year or so. It used to be that working for someone else was considered safe. That’s no longer the case. What once kept people tethered to jobs they disliked, has now evolved into them seeing new opportunities.
By providing the information they need to follow their dreams, the chamber may become an invaluable resource to the new business owner. After all, there is a lot of information online on how to start a business but there is likely nothing tailored to your town with the same attention to detail that you and your membership could provide.
This is an excellent way to reach a new audience.
Wondering about how to meet the needs of other specific demographics? Read the previous articles in our Meeting the Needs Series.