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Dan Woods was the speaker at the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce First Friday Luncheon. He introduced the Business Outreach Center, a new program being offered by the chamber.

Chamber introduces new business center

Thinking about starting your own business is easy.

Getting that dream off the ground and making it a success is another story.

Bloomberg News recently reported 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs that start businesses fail within the first 18 months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed this year only 34 percent of businesses started in 2005 were still in existence in 2015. Many shut their doors after only five years.

A big factor for these failures is many new business owners are overwhelmed by challenges they never saw coming. Inexperience in recordkeeping, product or service pricing, tax requirements and prioritizing budget needs are some of the many causes for small businesses failing throughout the country.

It is obvious anyone starting a new business needs help long before they open their doors to customers. The question is where to get accurate advice geared to your business plans without spending a lot of money.

That is the purpose of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce Business Outreach Center that has been formed with the end of the Small Business Development Center due to a lack of state funding.

Last Friday, Dan Woods explained how the Outreach Center will offer mentoring from local volunteers on different business-related subjects. One important goal of this mentoring process is to help a start-up owner develop a business plan.

The Center will offer a step-by-step process for showing a new business owner how to gain success. It is not just about a 20-minute conversation. The process will try to customize the advice for each business client.

Woods said the Outreach Center is seeking subject matter experts or mentors to help through the Outreach Center. The Center could use anyone with business management experience or knowledge in databases, logistics or human resources. The Center will work with the mentors to fit their time needs.

“I think this will be really huge for people working to start a business or for those in business here for several years and wanting to expand,” Woods said.

Steve Raymond, owner/publisher of the Effingham & Teutopolis News Report, explained during the program how the Small Business Development Center helped him develop a business plan before he started the newspaper in July 2012. The result was a detailed and in-depth business plan that helped when seeking financial assistance and ultimately getting started.

“For anyone working on a business plan, I would highly recommend coming to the Outreach Center and meeting with someone there,” Raymond said. “I had put together budgets for nearly 25 years, but never a complete business plan.”

The Outreach Center could benefit from people who started out in one particular business and then switched careers. Those people could know how to succeed in that type of business and how to avoid pitfalls along the way. Since they are volunteers, the service will be offered free of charge.

Woods said matching the right mentor for each business client is vital. So the more volunteers coming forward to help can help more business owners.

Anyone with the knowledge and time to help new businesses succeed can contact Norma Lansing, Effingham Chamber president and CEO, at 217-342-4147.

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