On occasion I have consulted with local small businesses which were retail and services oriented. Unsure of the local regulations, health codes, and other legal issues related to the set-up of these businesses in the local community I have turned to SCORE.
SCORE, is a national association with 389 chapters and more than 10,500 volunteers, positions itself as “Counselors to America’s Small Business” and has assisted more than 7 million businesses since 1964. The SCORE association offers courses, resource literature, and assistance with setting up a business in the local jurisdictions. Additionally you can schedule a conference with a volunteer, most likely a retired local business person, to ask for advice, review your business plans and ask for assistance from the network of volunteers.
Locally I have met with a few of the volunteers and found them to be helpful with general business issues and with specific volunteers helpful with areas of business. The counselors I have met with were former owners of retail and entertainment businesses (bowling alleys) and had been instrumental in providing guidance to local retail oriented start-ups and businesses in transition.
Having worked in the Technology markets and having many friends in Tech companies, including past chapter presidents of TiE, I was introduced to the local chapter of TiE.
TiE, formerly The Indus Entrepreneurs and now known as “Talent Ideas and Enterprise”, is today spread over 49 chapters in 11 countries with over 12,000 members and 1,800 plus charter members including Entrepreneurs, Private Equity, Angels, VC’s, Law Firms and other professionals. TiE offers monthly meetings, classes and a few very interesting annual events.
While there is never enough time to go to all of the networking events from the many organizations I am associated with, I make sure I never miss the annual TiE Funding Forum. Organized as a mini conference, companies can submit business plans for consideration to be one of the 12 or so candidates which can present at the conference. Companies and entrepreneurs do not have to be TiE members for consideration and you can submit to other chapters outside your local area if they offer the forum. In Austin we typically have Dallas and Houston represented at the forum from presenters as well as Venture and Angel funding groups.
Candidates which are selected have the opportunity to present in small group format to Angel groups, Venture Capital firms, and bankers. With a 15 minute presentation and a 10 minute Q&A, the companies have the opportunity to present twice to the mini-groups for funding and advice. Candidates range from pure start-ups to companies which have millions invested and are now operating entities looking for more capital to expand.
I have seen at least one company every year move to the next level in discussions with funding sources due to the contacts and presentations they made at this event. The attendees are also great resources for mentoring, networking and recruiting.
For smaller service and locally oriented companies NBI, The World’s largest referral network, may be worth investigating. The group meets monthly and recruits only one company/member from any business area to insure your networking is not competitive within the group.
One of my personal endeavors is the local Austin Inventors and Entrepreneurs Association. A loosely organized group of more than 300 inventors, entrepreneurs and want to bee’s from a 300 mile radius, we meet monthly and have a presenter and a social gathering. Chartered as ‘a group of likeminded individuals” assisting each other with their knowledge and experience, we have a wide range of individuals and skill sets to network with.
As an officer of the group I have facilitated numerous presenters including the Editor of the Business Journal, Intellectual Property Attorneys, Bankers, and others. It continually surprises me how we can get so many talented, successful and time pressed individuals will make time to present and network with our group.
There are many more resources available which would be too numerous to list and describe. If I can help you with a specific requirement, send me an e-mail.
“Using Video to market your products – a picture could be worth a thousand words – a video could be worth a million”
“Market and value based pricing – what the market will bear could be higher than you think”