Library business workshops
'If you've ever wanted to open a business, now is a good time to do it'
February 03, 2010 - By Susan Bromley
Brandon Twp.- High unemployment and a difficult economy might seem to be deterrents to opening a business right now, but Bill Schroer says the current economic climate is actually an ideal time for people to follow their dream of being their own boss.
"A lot of people are disgusted with being laid-off after being a good employee for a number of years," said Schroer, principal of the WJ Schroer Company and 30-year veteran of the marketing and research industry. "If you've ever wanted to open a business, now is a good time to do it— there is stimulus money, and banks are looking at providing more funding for new businesses. If you've got a good idea and you've lost your job, there is very little downside."
The past West Michigan Marketer of the Year will help potential business owners as well as current entrepreneurs as he leads two workshops on Feb. 20 at the library, 304 South St. The first workshop, planned for 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and titled "Business Plan: Ticket to Enter the Business World," will address putting a business vision onto paper in a compelling and disciplined way. The second,
"Marketing: Competing for the Hearts and Minds of Your Customers and Non-Customers," will take place from 1-5 p.m.
Both workshops apply to small business owners or want-to-be owners. The business plan workshop will guide attendees to finding financing and support for their business, as well as recruiting employees, keeping themselves and their organization on track, marketing to develop positioning, branding, raising business visibility and recognizing the importance of a marketing plan and how to write one.
Schroer notes that many people confuse marketing with advertising, although the two are vastly different. The four "p's" of marketing, he said, are product, place, price and promotion— the latter being the advertising piece.
The first step for business owners is to look at their product and see if it is appropriate for the market they are in. Then, determine how that product will be modified to give it an advantage over competitors. Pricing is critical to define your business in the marketplace.
"Once those things are figured out, you ready your marketing platform and method of communicating your business and how you demonstrate that your product is something to be preferred in spite of competitive efforts," Schroer said. "A lot of people who run small businesses haven't had training. My seminar helps make sure you are covering all the bases and not missing some part of the marketing process that may inhibit your ability to be successful."
The biggest key to becoming a successful business owner, Schroer said, is desire. Opening and running your own business requires a lot of hours, a lot of work, and a certain amount of risk.
"The fact is, even in this environment of unemployment, you will find a job, long before you will have a successful business," he noted. "It takes a certain breed of person. Not necessarily old or young, rich or poor, black or white, but someone who really wants it. We'll provide the roadmap to help them get there."
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville