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Workshop: Success in poor economy requires good management

More than 30 entrepreneurs listened to the speaker and interacted with each other in a free workshop on dealing withsbdc the tough economy. “Looking for the Upside of the Downturn” was presented by Robert Myers, area director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of North Florida. The workshop was held at the Regency Square Branch Library, July 9.

Myers encouraged participants to be positive about their businesses, saying they can succeed, even in this economy. He admitted, however, “Businesses are failing today for the same reasons they did five, 10, or 15 years ago. The economy is exasperating the problem. It has put added pressure on small businesses.”

That added pressure, he said, translates into having to manage more effectively and efficiently.

To be sure, he said, there are downsides to running a business in the current economy. For example, small businesses have limited access to capital, because banks are not as generous in their lending practices as they had been. Also, consumers are spending less, which then translates into decreased profits.

But, said Myers, entrepreneurs can also find bright spots in this economy. They can take advantage of competitors who are weakened; they can hire top-quality employees because of a large labor pool; and there are even opportunities for some businesses in government procurement because of the economy stimulus package. He encouraged workshop participants to explore www.recovery.gov to seek out those opportunities.

Following an interactive exercise based on a case study, Myers provided some marketing tips to the group:

• Nurture your existing customers. Get one-on-one time with your existing customers.

• Expand the definition of your target market. Who else can you include?

• Network. Many different groups provide opportunities to network and get referrals.

• Use technology. Web 2.0 is an effective method to market your business, said Myers, who specifically sited LinkedIn and Facebook as two methods. [Editor’s note: For more information on using social networking to market your business, go to “Web 2.0 and you.”]

• Resist the temptation to discount. “People will pay more if they get more,” said Myers. “If you discount, you risk dropping below your break-even point.”

SBDC offers small business owners consultation and training services. For more information, go to www.sbdc.unf.edu or call 904-620-2476.


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