200+ Attend Congressman Garamendi’s Small Business Boost Conference
Rep. Garamendi speaks at the Small Business Boost conference in Davis, 8/26/15 (click here for full-size image)
DAVIS, CA - Today more than 200 current and aspiring small business owners and entrepreneurs attended Congressman John Garamendi’s (D-Fairfield,CA) Small Business Boost Conference held at the UC Davis Conference Center. Dozens of government, nonprofit, and business agencies were on hand with resources available to help small business owners make their dreams a reality.
“This conference is the opportunity to find the answer to the question you might not even be thinking about. How do I create a marketing plan? How do I create a business plan?” said Garamendi, who is a small business owner with a cattle ranch and pear orchard. “We’ve brought agencies that want to help you here today, all under one roof. Take advantage of this opportunity. Your success is their goal.”
“I want you to walk away with an important contact, to walk away having spoken to one of the agencies here today. Walk away with a business card and appointment and take your business to the next level,” said Joe McClure, District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In his remarks, Pierre Balthazard, Dean of the Sacramento State college of Business Administration, noted that a number of small businesses fail because the owners make easy to avoid mistakes, like paying for an entire business on a personal credit card, and lack passion for their work.
“Passion is your most valuable asset. You want to be so enthusiastic about your company that people have a hard time distinguishing between you and your product. Make yourself indispensible,” said Dean Balthazard.
Dean Balthazard identified his key advice to startups and small businesses, including the need to clearly articulate business goal and the need to develop relationships and to remember that customers, clients, and suppliers want your business to succeed. He also urged small business owners to understand their strategic advantage over bigger firms: it’s easier to adjust the business goals and business model to meet market needs early in a company when the company is smaller.
During the first panel conversation, focused on “Access to Capital”, the panelists fielded a number of specific questions on the various types of firms offering capital access to business owners and the importance of separating personal and business finances.
During the panel discussion on “Operation Management,” speakers gave insights on ways to establish a stable company capable of growth. Regular communications with customers and employees was a theme that was reiterated several times. Employees need regular positive feedback and clear expectations. Customers need to believe their input is welcomed.
“When you get feedback from your customers, don’t look for the easy answer. If you ask your customer, ‘Is everything ok?’ what information are you really getting if they say, ‘Yes’?” said Humberto Lupi, Consultant and Principal at GEMBA Quality Consulting.
During the panel discussion on “Marketing”, speakers gave ideas as to how to attract customers to their businesses. “The main focus of marketing is not to necessarily sell your product, but to provide solutions to the problems of consumers and to build a relationship with them in advertising and in business. Attracting the people to eventually sell to is paramount. Your website is the face of your business and social media is its voice,” said Birgit Rickert, Principal at Results Marketing.
At the “Networking” panel discussion, speakers discussed the importance of business-to-business and business-to-investor communication. They also emphasized the importance of follow up correspondence and other types of basic etiquette that help responsive business leaders develop stronger relationships.