Marketing · Social Media · The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 8

I just left a meeting with a new client, I’ve got my water, my laptop and I’m… tired!  Ha!  I’ve got the Twitter hashtags and handles up on the wall. Now I’m ready to go!  Week 8, marketing for the solopenuer.

TWEET:  It is HOT at tonight!!! Andrea from Minnie Events is serving up some spicy antipasto!

Tonight, Tanner Collins began the session reviewing the slides needed for presenting the Pitch Deck in a couple of weeks.  I’ve started working on my slides, but I have LOT of work ahead of me.  To get the list of suggested slides, CLICK HERE.

First up…

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Howard Deskin

Impression Marketing

The first rule of marketing: “The consumer is in charge!”

When you are marketing your own business, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your product or service?
  • Will anyone buy your product or service?  (Is there a need or want for it?)
  • Always think ahead… what’s your next product?
  • Think about where do people shop and market there.  i.e. the internet, facebook, malls….
  • Once you get customers, learn how to keep them.

 TWEET:  “Find a niche market and start there!” #BWStartSmart 

Once you’ve established a marketing budget, plan, etc: examine it to make sure it is working:

  • Measure your results – keep your numbers (not just for P&L, but marketing)
  • Look for someone in your industry with more visibility, followers and experience than you and – connect!
  • Set yourself up to be found by someone who can help you.

TIP:  To more successfully reach customers or clients, use videos in SM! (social media)

You need a budget for marketing!

  • It’s an investment
  • Make an investment – fixed percent of your revenue

Mark Sheridan (I think THIS is the correct Mark Sharidan) lists these important characteristics to marketing:

  • Cost
  • Problems/symptoms
  • Versus/compare
  • Review
  • best

 TWEET:  “Whatever people ask you on the phone, is what they will be searching on Google.” #BWStartSmart

  • What are my customer’s questions?
  • What are the best answers to your question?

In closing, Mr. Deskin suggested looking into these three aspects of marketing:  effectiveness ratings for B2B tactics, best B2B tactics and creating a customer retention plan.

Then, the last slide he shared was his contact info and the LINK to his newsletter.  However, he was wanting to not go over time and said, “If you want my newsletter, here is the address” and changed the slide.  Someone said, “You took that off fast… do you want us to go there?”  HA  You probably had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

Needles to say, Mr. Deskin’s presentation of his own business overview, about marketing at Impression Marketing and his other business Fresh Assist was informative and entertaining.  Participants were thrown a box of his product if they answered questions and all of us got a fee sample before he left.  If you’d like to see more of his videos for Fresh Assist, HERE is the link to his YouTube channel.

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BREAK TIME

Tanner challenged us to apply many of the suggestions and advice Mr. Deskin gave to our businesses.  And after watching promotion videos of the Fresh Assist product, we talked about what we remembered from the video and way.  How you present information, visually and verbally is ESSENTIAL to good marketing!

TIP:  Think, “What would I say if I pitched my business to my best client?”

Now, I’ve got pictures. Got food. Got coke. Got more pictures!  Time to eat – hot stuff!

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SAMUEL LITTLE

Samuel Little Graphic Design

TWEET:  “With marketing, you don’t know how big it is until you’ve done it.”

Beginning his career in design, Mr. Little gravitated toward web design.  He said, “The internet used to change every six months, every three months, every month… now it is changing every minute.  Despite that, anything you want to do on the internet, you can do. You just need to do and figure it out.”

GOOGLE RANKING

  • Google analytics (from the company Erchant)
  • Be specific
  • Length of time – domain name

BUSINESS WEBSITE

  • Have a website – you don’t own Facebook
  • Domain/hosting/content – ranking
  • Marketing hub

TIP:  Don’t use a free Facebook page instead of a website.

  • If FB goes away and you don’t have it…
  • You own your website.

DOMAIN NAMES

  • Key words
  • Forwarding domain names don’t help analytics
  • GoDaddy
  • HostGater

HOSTING A WEBSITE

  • GoDaddy
  • BlueHost
  • Go with a major – not a reseller, you don’t know who it actually belongs to originally
  • Through Sam – crashed website, emails, renewals (prevent cancelations)
  • Shouldn’t cost a lot (maybe for server fee)

BUILDING A WEBSITE

  • WordPress* (customizable, but more advanced)
  • Build your own: Wix, GoDaddy, SquareSpace, Web.com, Weebly (can be upgraded to WordPress)
  • WP is like a PC, it can get hacked or plugins can cause problems – protect your site
  • GoDaddy – web developer
  • Start with marketing
  • Plan what you need: features/function of each page, (wire frame – new website) page sketch (or proof from InDesign), number of pages, brand developed, calendar, PayPal, Facebook, blogging, Google map (if a store you want people to visit)

MOBILE WEBSITE

  • Make sure (especially if you are just building a website) that it is mobile.
  • Makes the website responding to the size of the device it’s being used on.

TWEET:  Great session about marketing with and !

Personally, tonight was more difficult to take notes to share with you: experts in the industry I adore, experts I look up to… but, in the end, it was nice to know that not very much was a surprise to me!  I’m on the right track!  You can CLICK HERE to see the services I offer.  Anyway,  I hope I covered the basics for you.

Darla
AKA, “The Imbedded Mogul”

@imbeddedmogul
@darladhancock
@socialmarketllc
#BWStartSmart
@BizWorksCenter

Branding · Marketing

Spreading the Word

Once and awhile, you come across a creative genius.  Well, I don’t know if this is genius, but I sure do love what John Deere has done with the words in this commercial!

“It’s not how fast you mow, it’s how well you mow fast.”

It took me a bit to remember what product this commercial was for, but that little phrase certainly sticks in one’s head!  And, it took me a couple of Google searches to find the commercial, but it was worth the search!

I hope you enjoyed the video.

Darla D. Hancock

Entrepreneur · The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 7

Well, hello week seven!  Although it seems like many of the original moguls haven’t been at class for several weeks, BizWorks Members and guests have been attending.  Full room tonight!

After organizing the snack table [chips, granola bars and water bottles] with Thaddeus Huff (BizWorks Center, Executive Director), Tanner A. Collins, Jr. (BizWorks Center, Assistant Director and Incubator Manager) opened up with some great quotes and a great introduction for our first speaker…

I wish I could remember the quote from his mom… it was SO good!!  But, I shared the other on Twitter…

 TWEET:  “There are no bumps in the road if you take the extra mile.” @tacollins

Now, remember… these are just my notes to recap what I recorded as noteworthy and for those who couldn’t attend tonight.  If any of the information is incorrect, feel free to leave a comment below!  Let’s go…

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NATHALIA ARTUS

After a very complimentary introduction from Tanner, Nathalia told us more about herself and began to tell us about what she does for the VSBFA (and her connection with the SBA).  She shared about the following forms of federal assistance:

Loans (SWaM Business Micro-loan)

  • up to $25,000
  • only a $100 fee
  • 6.5% rate
  • business has to be registered for at least 24 months
  • owners credit score has to be 650+

Economic Development Loan (for fixed assets like property)

  • 60 month repayment
  • $500 application fee
  • fixed rate of 4%
  • start up and/or existing business
  • focus on job creation

Direct Loan Program

  • child care loan
  • up to $150K per location center
  • $10K for home-based businesses
  • partnership with VA Dept. of …..

Bank Credit Support Program

  • indirect loans

Cash collateral

  • VBFA pledges cash collateral to back up a bank loan

Loan Guaranty

  • VSBFA provides add
  • guaranty to the bank
  • up to 75% of the amount up to 7 years
  • $200 app fee
  • 1.5% fee off the guaranteed portion
  • no credit score requirement

How to get a loan?

  1. Be prepared!
  2. Talk to 3 bankers, who understands your business & business owner.  If you find a good fit, understand your requests and you can pay
  3. VSBFA can help assist w/ additional funding
  4. Have your banker call the VSBFA or work with SBA

NOTE:  A great resource and a new kind of business loan to fund your business is Street Sharp.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Nathalia at (804)371-8208 or nathalia.artus@sbsd.virginia.gov

TWEET: When you go to a lender, know how much you need! Don’t go & ask them how much they can lend you! #BWStartSmart @VaDHCD @BizWorksCenter

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BREAK TIME!

Talking tweets with Nathalia Artus.  Got my coke. Got my grilled chicken (w/several helpings of sour cream) and ready for round two!

TWEET:  #BWBreakTime Again, Minnie Events made the night yummy! If you missed tonight, you missed some yummy chicken! #BWStartSmart @BizWorksCenter

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FREDAERiCK WILKERSON

Well, this was a bit unexpected!!  The second presenter of the night started his session with some music, handouts and give-a-ways… and a funny story abut “dancing with Justin Bieber”… well, you needed to be there.

After his intro music stopped, Fredarick sat down in the front of the room and opened a discussion [surprisingly, yet somewhat appropriately] with a picture of Justin Bieber… I wondered what it would feel like with him sitting down, but he really created a comfortable and open environment!

He introduced himself and asked each of us to share our names and what we do.  It is fun… each week, the moguls get more precise about our businesses.  He works at the Bank of McKenny and helps small businesses with credit analysis (i.e. crunches the numbers).

Here are the notes I recorded from his time at Start Smart:

How to get money from a bank…

  1. What are your options in loans?
  2. How much money do I need to borrow?
  3. What is the lender looking for to make a loan decision?

Financing options to consider:

  • Line of credit
  • Term note
  • Short term note

TWEET:  #BWStartSmart Good advice: Pay a business loan back as soon as you can! Fredaerick Wilkerson @BizWorksCenter @virginiasbdc

How much do I need?

  • How much you WANT to borrow
  • How much you NEED to borrow
  • How much you CAN/MAY borrow

…those are totally different amounts!

TWEET: 1-2-3 OF LENDING: Determine what you need. Determine what the cost is. Determine if you can afford it. #BWStartSmart @BizWorksCenter

Does what you want to do determined by needing a loan? 

  • Well, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Lenders are looking to see if you are serious: (and they are looking for specific things)

  • Credit history
  • Sweat equity
  • Collateral
  • Business plan… be very realistic and up front
  • Down payment… doesn’t have to be money. It can be property, stock, life insurance, etc.
  • Debt ratio… monthly debt out of your income
  • Experience… the longer you have been in business, the more respected you will be in the bank’s eyes
  • Business track history
  • Financial trends
  • Loan to value

Other questions:

Is your business sustainable? Is your business in a good location? Is your business in demand?

TWEET:  Business owner: find the niche that will set you apart from the rest. #BWLending #BWStartStart @BizWorksCenter

FCC, SWaM

TANNER COLLINS

TWEET:  “If you have bad credit… take everything you learned tonight and throw it out.” TC

TWEET:  “Before you make the money, you got to have somewhere to put it.” TC #ohno #BWStartStart @BizWorksCenter

Introduced….

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 SHANNA KABATZNICK

Shanna from C&F Bank continued the unique introduction with a “move it” session!  Everyone!  Get up and stretch!!  Staying awake at 8:30!  Shanna introduced herself as a banker and entrepreneur, then made her presentation to us about business banking accounts:

 Cash management & relationship banking:

  1. Business vs personal bank accounts — “Don’t mix the two, keep money separate.”
  • Budgeting savings
  1. C&F has FREE business bank accounts

TWEET:  Welcome, Shanna Kabatznick from C&F. #BWStartSmart #BWshakeit #entrepreneurship @CandFBank @fabwomenrva  https://youtu.be/tYnemLPMCA0

  1. What is a budget?
  2. Spending money (credit vs debt)
  3. Establish good savings habits
    • Pay yourself first, pay bills on time, etc.
  1. Needs vs Wants
  2. Budgeting (helps you reach your goals)
  3. Credit – use it as a budgeting tool and learn how it impacts you
  • How much money do you have?
  • How many bills do you have?
  • Make informed choices!

TWEET:  Have you wondered – how can you possibly be over-drawn if you have all those checks left? #budget @fabwomenrva @CandFBank @BizWorksCenter

A business plan vs a dream:

  • Business plan:  Ex. I want to go to the Greek Islands, but I can’t go now.  So, I make a plan… put a certain amount in savings each month.  At some date, I’ll be there.
  • Dream:  I wish this would happen

**Don’t spend money you don’t have!**

Make choices and be aware where your money is going…

Credit impacts your..

  • Buying power
  • Job opportunities
  • Getting loans

 NOTE:  A great resource for being serious about your business, your budget and your numbers, this is a GREAT resource:  http://www.budgetworksheets.org.

TWEET:  Thought of the night… BE REALISTIC!!! #BeRealistic #Entrepreneurship #BWBudget #BWStartSmart @BizWorksCenter @fabwomenrva

  1. Borrowing money
  2. Identity theft (you can use credit carma w/o using a credit cards… it may not be exact, but it will be close)
  3. Internet scams – If it is too good to be true, it is!!

That’s a wrap!!  Work on your Pitch Deck slides and we’ll see you next week!

Darla

Don’t forget to follow me next week at 6:30 EST on for #BWTwitterChat as I tweet my way through class!!  You can find me at @ImbeddedMogul and @SocialMarketLLC

 

Entrepreneur · The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 6

Hello, week 6!!

Things are HOT at BizWorks!  Literally… this week, the air conditioning wasn’t working well, so we meet in the co-working space.  I had my WaWa smoothly and was enjoying the change.  So, I found the photo-ready best seat and got settled in.  Bonnie passed out sweets to each table, which she shared was for not meeting some self-set sales goals – that was fun and unexpected!

While everyone was getting settled in, we realized there wasn’t a trash can.  So, knowing that we would really need one once the snack table opened, I voluntarily went to get a trashcan for the “new” space.  Besides getting locked into the back hallway… everything went OK.  HA!  So, here we go:

#BWRollCall

LUZ RIOS

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The first presenter of the evening was Luz Rios from State Farm Insurance.  Before she started speaking, she when around and introduced herself and asked each person to tell them about their businesses.  She referred to this information numerous times during her talk, associating certain examples that may apply to specific businesses.  I could never do that – impressive!

She explained that insurance is for sudden & accidental (not old) occurrences, that insurance is personalized and can actually be written off as a business expense.  Good to know!  Also, she highlighted that insurance is about the details (even including attorney fess in your premium).  Here are a few suggestions she made:

Property (accidental loss, property damage, etc.)

  • Protect building
  • Content (pens, paper, printer, desk, etc.)
  • Liability
  • Coverage (things you don’t do knowingly)
  • Negligence (someone sues you)

Becoming an employer

  • (Talked more about this later)

Sub-contractors

  • When you hire a sub-contractor, get coverage from their insurance company (their certificate), not from the contractor (it could be counterfeit)
  • Also, a sub-contractor should have [their own] insurance!

TWEET:  “Take the time now, before it’s too late.  It’s better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and need it.” #peaceofmind

BILL CONLEY

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To begin his time with us, Bill introduced himself, his background and his time with BizWorks.  I liked how much he incorporated personal stories into his informational session.

TWEET:  “If you want to learn about small business, you are in the right place [BizWorks].”

These are the highlights I took from his session:

  1. The difference between an insurance broker and a CPA, is that  a CPA helps cash flow (percentage for taxes (fed/state) & estimated income)
  2. ADVICE:  Put tax money away for taxes and don’t touch it.
  3. Life Insurance:  If you don’t think you need it, ask yourself this question, “If my last paycheck was my last paycheck, where would my loved ones be financially?”
  4. Life insurance is to replace income (money to beneficiaries can be tax free)
  5. Disability Insurance: “If I’m disabled, my mortgage will be paid.” (Keep 6 months of living in reserve.)
  6. Back-up plan for your business. Always ask yourself, “What can go wrong?”  As a small business owner, think of everything and plan for everything before it happens… always be 6-steps ahead of yourself.
  7. Retirement planning:  invest your knowledge, interest and time (if you use an advisor, you’ll make 3x as much)
  8. Understand the tax qualification products!  Make sure that “Uncle Sam only gets one bite.”  NOTE:  If you are setting money aside, call Bill and ask him to explain this sentence… it’s a GREAT way to understand retirement funds!!

TWEET:  “Be interested enough to take the time to gain the knowledge.”

BREAK-TIME

Although I spent most of my time taking pictures during the break, as always, Minnie Events brought a silence over the room with her yummy snack – tonight she bought macaroni salad, meatballs and fresh fruit.

TERRANCE BANKS

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Last, but not least, Terrance Banks talked with us about how credit scores help, hurt and impact a small business.  First, talking about the infamous “FICO score”.

  1. Payment history 35%
  2. Amounts owed 30%
  3. Length of Credit history 15%
  4. New credit 10%
  5. Credits used 10%

TIP:  Adjust your spam blocker or email setting to allow for receipts o response of emails from the credit reporting agencies.

When it comes to credit companies, it is a good idea to get a copy of your credit from one of the three companies once every quarter:  Equifax, Experian and Transunion.  Also, it is important to know that any errors found by one company need to be notified to all other agencies

  • Disputes must be followed up w/a updated report, free

TWEET:  “Any positive action improves your credit report.” #goodcredit

Lastly, he made these suggestions as far as having and keeping good credit:

  • Strive to keep a credit card balance under 31% of the credit limit.
  • You have to spend money to save money – a good report is a “game”.
  • Obtaining debt, it can be good – depending on what you use it for, how to pay it back and how will be obtaining credit help the expansion of your business.

There are pros and cons of using credit repair agencies to reduce debt.

  • It can be time consuming, monthly fees, you could do it yourself
  • Consolidation (reduction of debt interest)
  • (Settlements are for banks, not for people/businesses.)
  • Secured credit card – use your own money to build credit.

TANNER COLLINS

TWEET:  As you grow your business, grow your group of advisors.

Tanner closed the night by saying this notable thought:  “No one is going to remember everything we said, but we will remember the professionals that were here… keep their cards and when you need them, call them.”

See you next week!!

Darla, The Imbedded Mogul

 

 

 

 

 

Communication · Life Learner

Circle of Oppertunity

I have to think that I have written about this book before, but the more I read it, the more I just LOVE the creative writing of Michael Michalko.  When I read his books, I’m inspired to not just be a creative-thinker, but to claim purpose for my processes and outcomes.

I’ve been reading pieces of Thinkertoys on-and-off for a while now.  Today, I read the chapter, “Circle of Opportunity”.  In this chapter, he presents the idea that sometimes, prolonged concentration can actually be what chokes creativity, original ideas and insights.  The objective for this type of creative thinking is to create a link between your association and your challenge.

Here’s how:

  1. Draw a circle and number it like a clock, one – twelve.
  2. Assign an “attribute” to each number.  (i.e. useful, durable, mobile, marketing, functional, blue, etc.)
  3. What are you needing a creative idea for, but can’t come up with a creative solution?  Write it down and keep it in mind.
  4. Next, roll a die and associate your idea with the word connected to that number on the circle.  Write down associations between your idea and the attribute.
  5. Repeat [step 4] with another die, another attribute and another set of associations.
  6. Combine your associations, and you may just have the concept, idea or product you have been wishing you could think of!

I love this ideas [and numerous others] in the Thinkertoys book.  Myself, I consider one of my biggest struggles, writing headlines for newsletters. It may seem like a little issue, but just one different word can create a whole new circle of opportunity for a client’s engagement, sales or reputation!

I encourage you to visit the website Creative Thinking.  There, you’ll find books and thought experiments that are perfect for personal or group use!  Also, do you have a favorite book that applies to personal thinking and professional growth?  Please share with me!  I’d love your recommendations.

Darla

The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 5

Hello, week 5!  Tonight is all about legal…

SARAH McCURRY

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Sarah McCurry introduced herself as a “modern trend lawyer” (her business is based on referrals, not cut-throat, and through advertising.  She is billed hourly vs certain amount of trust.)  Then she asked the participants to introduce ourselves and give her a short business description.  –  There is such a great variety of start–ups here, it is very neat!

I tried to shorten my notes for you here, but I thought most of them were worthy of sharing:

FORMED BUSINESS:  (can be sued based on your personal assets)

  1. Organization (forming a business and “I’m supposed to incorporate”)
  2. Sole-prop (1 person)
  3. Partnership (2+ people in ownership)

VS

ENITY: (can only sue based on the resources based only on property of business)

  1. First you have a company name, purpose, etc.
  2. Next you need liability
  3. Limited liability comp (LLC)
  4. Corporation (‘can be burdensome’) “C-corp” (board of director, meetings, minutes, movements to move)
  5. Stock – buy a minimal share of stocks, you will be taxed on the amount you own (see articles of incorporation)
  6. Non-stock
  7. Non-profit

FYI:  file w/SCC-VA (to form corporation) business entity search

FYI:  B-corp is a “label” like food marked “organic” (you’d have to be LLC or Corp)

CORP (SCC on-line filing) – member of VA state bar, corporation, self

TWEET:  “Sound advice – when it comes to a start-up, have paperwork in place, respect the entity and stay organized!”

FOUNDATIONS — IMPORTANT!!

  • Articles of organization
  • Certificate of organization
  • IRS-EIN get number (not mail) – social security number for company
  • Bank account – business!
  • Write a check to county

TWEET:  “If you are running your business out of your personal bank account – go to the bank tomorrow morning.” SM

Filing process for LLC – the RIGHT foundation

  1. Less paperwork
  2. Shares = membership
  3. Sign documents “managing member”
  4. Who gets what % of loss
  5. Who gets what % of gain
  6. What happens?
  7. Insurance in place to pay rent, liability ins, payroll, spouses, etc.

DBA – Company vs Name

  • Reg. for taxes – who is paying?
  • State/county needs to know
  • File “VA factious name” application
  • Take to local court
  • “If I do something wrong?  Will a customer be able to find me?”

LLC:  (BMW, Chrysler – but, if you sell on stock market, probably go to DE and register for tax purposes)

  • No stock — membership only
  • 1 – tax as sole proprietor (or partnership)
  • 2 mo & 15 days – S Corp (w/employees)
  • Keep records (expenses…)  “Where are you and where are you going?” SM
  • Mold it how you want, tax-wise
  • No bylaws or official docs

ALWAYS put things in writing

  • Contracts
  • Commercial Lease

o   VA-buyer beware

o   read the terms

o   personal guarantee (personally being responsible for paying if your company cannot)

o   oral promises don’t matter

  • Hiring
  • Purchases

Substantial compliance – look into (rules and regulations, terms on agreements)

****SIGN:  Darla D. Hancock, Managing Member of The Social Market

7 habits of highly effective people by coveys

  • Focus on goals
  • Be positive
  1. Be proactive, life doesn’t happen (take action on wht you can do, not worry about what you can’t control)
  2. Begin with the end in mind (prioritize and bring a proper foundation
  3. Think “win-win”
  4. Think cooperatively (think community, not individually) – believe in abundance
  5. Don’t assume you know more than anyone
  6. Teamwork, value difference
  7. Take care of yourself

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KAREN AYLWOOD

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Karen works for Chesterfield Economic Development.  She defines what she does as a “Corporate Concierge for Small Business” – helping to build communities of partners and resources.  Her advice was practical and informative about what Chesterfield County has to offer small businesses:

IF YOU USE “DBA” – fill at clerk’s office (county) – $12

Where do you look for grants?  Chesterfield Business Starts Here

  • Foundation reporter
  • List of corporations that give grants
  • With a library card, you can log into the report (w/o paying for subscription) – in library

Was is the best hidden resource for small business help?  The Public Library!!

  • Makerspace (Central Library in Chester)
  • Free meeting spaces (Meadowdale Library)
  • Co-working space (North Courthouse Library)

Where do you go for business property?  Chesterfield County can help with site selection, zoning, permitting process, signage, etc.

Where is the best place to access to capital for your small business?

  • Lending – banker resources
  • SBA funding programs
  • VA Community Capital

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Well… that’s a wrap!!

A plateful of tacos, a cherry coke, lots to think about and no homework!  A good night.

Darla, The Imbedded Mogul

@SocialMarketLLC