Jump starting your business with the WBC

Monday, July 28th, 2014


One of the top purposes of the Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center (WBC) is to help budding entrepreneurs get a start on their business. Attending a WBC Jump Start: Intro to Entrepreneurship seminar is a great way to jump start your business or even refresh your business know-how.

Entrepreneurs and those just starting to dabble in starting a business typically attend Jump Start: Intro to Entrepreneurship and leave with key takeaways and valuable action items. The goal of training is to “jump start” your thinking about business, whether you are in the early idea phase, just starting or are currently in the growth period. The information shared constitutes of business basics, which is great for starting entrepreneurs. The lessons learned can help you set a firm foundation to build your business on and be successful.

As an attendee, you are given worksheet packets that you can fill out during the training and bring to the one-on-one consultation. The packet has questions which each business owner should consider before starting their venture: why you want to start a business, what your exit strategy will be, market research and analysis, defining your target audience, and what your strengths and weaknesses are (a SWOT analysis).

After attending Jump Start: Intro to Entrepreneurship, each attendee is welcome to sign up for a free one-on-one consultation with our full-time business consultant who will further assist to get your business off the ground.

The WBC’s premier business training class, Jump Start: Intro to Entrepreneurship seminars take place on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, morning and afternoon, respectively. You can find upcoming Jump Start and other trainings here: slchamber.com/training.

The Women’s Business Center provides entrepreneurs, young professionals and small business owners the critical skills, knowledge, tools and support necessary to increase their success and strengthen the economy. In the 2013-14 fiscal year, the WBC provided more than 547 hours in conducting 360 consultations. Alongside 116 trainings, the WBC trained upwards of 3,300 people.

“The WBC was instrumental in helping us get to the next level. Thanks to their support an technical assistance, we are now able to support language services on a global scale,” said Sabrina Morales, CEO of Linguistica International, a client of the WBC.

The Women’s Business Center helps dreamers become entrepreneurs. Those entrepreneurs make Utah’s economy one of the strongest in the nation. To learn more about the Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center, visit our website at slchamber.com/wbc.

The 14th Annual Women in Business Summer Social, presented by Questar and Cuisine Unlimited, will bring over 300 prominent business women and men together and provides a platform for fundraising and networking. The proceeds from the event support women’s programs at the Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center. Donations are tax deductible. Funds help provide women entrepreneurs with a platform for business development and job creation in Utah through consulting, training and networking. Learn more about the Summer Social and reserve your spot at slchamber.com/summersocial

Utah tops Small Business Friendliness Survey again

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

For the second year in a row, Utah has been named the most small business-friendly state in the country in the Small Business Friendliness Survey conducted by Thumbtack.com in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

“After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, Utah has emerged as the top state for business friendliness once again,” says Jon Lieber, Chief Economist of Thumbtack. “Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and for small businesses looking for an educated workforce and a welcoming environment, Utah is a great place to locate.”

In the survey’s third year, Utah improved almost all of its scores in the different categories to earn an A+ in nine of the 11 categories, which include: overall friendliness, ease of starting a business, ease of hiring, regulations, employment, labor and hiring, tax code, licensing, environmental, and zoning. Utah tied with Idaho for the most A+ grades, but fared better in ease of hiring. The lowest grade Utah received was a B+ in visibility of training and networking programs, which the state ranked 14th in, so it’s still better than most states. Salt Lake City, in particular, also performed well in the survey as the friendliest city west of Texas.

One of the key findings for Utah from the survey was that the small businesses in Utah were the most optimistic about the outlook for their state economy, and the 6th most optimistic about the economy on the national scale. The survey also found that “small businesses reported improvement from 2013 both in the ease of hiring and hiring regulations, but training programs continue to be a relative weak spot for the state.”

Just because the training programs may not be well-known doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Programs through the Small Business Administration and those like the Chamber’s Women’s Business Center can be great resources for those wanting to start a small business by providing training, consulting, access to capital and grants, and much more. The objective of the Utah Small Business Coalition to bring more awareness to the number of organizations offering tools and resources for small business in Utah as well.

The full survey results can be seen here and include full sets of rankings for states and cities going back three years, along with dozens of easily searchable quotes from Utah small businesses.

The Small Business Friendliness Survey draws upon data from over 12,000 small business owners, providing new insights into state and local business environments across the nation. The Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey is the largest survey of its kind and is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide sample of small business owners themselves to determine the most business-friendly locations. The top rated states overall were Utah, Idaho, Texas, Virginia and Louisiana. The lowest rated were Rhode Island, Illinois, California, Connecticut and New Jersey.

How excessive regulations stifle small businesses

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

According to revised GDP numbers, instead of being nearly flat, the economy actually shrank by 1 percent in the first quarter of 2014. Growth is expected to bounce back later in the year, but ever since the end of the Great Recession, the economy has struggled to produce enough economic growth to return to full employment.

What’s holding back our economy from growing faster so it can produce more jobs and higher wages?

John Dearie, Executive Vice President at the Financial Services Forum and co-author of “Where the Jobs Are: Entrepreneurship and the Soul of the American Economy,” thinks that the vast amount regulations facing entrepreneurs plays a big role [emphasis mine]:

At roundtables we conducted with entrepreneurs in 12 cities across the United States, I and a colleague, Courtney Geduldig, heard a number of major themes everywhere we went—remarkable, given the size and diversity of the U.S. economy. One recurring message is that regulatory burden, complexity, and uncertainty is undermining entrepreneurs’ ability to successfully launch new businesses, expand, and create jobs.

“They can be federal, state, or local—and sometimes they conflict,” Alan Blake of Austin-based Yorktown Technologies told us. “Identifying, understanding, and complying with all these regulations is a huge loss of productivity…Entrepreneurs don’t have the resources to hire an in-house counsel or a chief financial officer. They’re trying to do all of it themselves.”

“It’s as if the politicians and regulators in Washington want me to fail—and spend all their time thinking up new ways to ensure that I do,” said Sharon Delay, founder of Adjunct Solutions in Westerville, Ohio. “Quit throwing ridiculous roadblocks in front of me! You either want me to be the engine of the economy or you don’t!”

See what Sidecar and other transportation disruptors are going through.

Dearie continues:

To be sure, regulation is essential to market economies. It establishes the rules of competition, ensures a level playing field, governs participants’ behavior, and protects consumers, public health and safety, private property, and environmental resources.

But regulation is not free, or without consequence. Regulation imposes costs—costs borne principally by businesses.

One cost is less job creation. Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, owner of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains, said that the “unnavigable regulatory maze” has made it hard to “create those business models that justify investing to create more jobs.”

Utah is in a fortunate position when it comes to regulations and starting a small business. Thumbtack calls Utah the “friendliest state for small business” with it’s stable and low regulatory climate.

With straightforward business laws, entrepreneurs are able to better focus on their business rather than have to constantly jump through legal hoops. Utah is an easy state to start a business and to make it grow.

Now let’s see if the rest of the country can catch up on the trend to better our economy through less regulation on small business.

Resources available for women who want to be entrepreneurs

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

ABC 4 News invited the Chamber’s Women’s Business Center Director Ann Marie Thompson to do a feature on the resources that woman seeking to be entrepreneurs have available to them in Utah.

ABC 4 invited the WBC to join them because of their feature in the “Women-Owned: Businesses Carving A New American Business Landscape” report by the U.S. Chamber, which was released at the end of March.

Watch the interview above or click here to watch it on ABC 4 News.

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The 14th Annual Women in Business Summer Social, presented by Questar and Cuisine Unlimited, will bring over 300 prominent business women and men together and provides a platform for fundraising and networking. The proceeds from the event support women’s programs at the Salt Lake Chamber, through their 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Women’s Business Center, and donations are tax deductible. Funds help provide women entrepreneurs with a platform for business development and job creation in Utah through consulting, training and networking. Learn more about the Summer Social and reserve your spot at slchamber.com/summersocial

UCAIR launches the Clean Air Assist Program

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Clean air is a problem that everyone can address. Now there’s a little more help for small businesses to make a difference in Utah’s air quality.

The Department of Workforce Services (DWS), the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) have partnered to provide grants to small businesses to upgrade their current equipment to emission reducing equipment and improve air quality.

Small businesses can be awarded grants between $500 and $15,000. This grant program is available for businesses with less than 100 employees that are located in Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Duchesne, Salt Lake, Tooele, Uintah, Utah and Weber Counties.

Application Process:

Go to the UCAIR website www.ucair.org for information about UCAIR and the Air Assist Program application information. For questions about the program and individual help with the application process, please contact Gwen Springmeyer at 801.536.4218 or gwen@ucair.org.

There is no application deadline and no fees will be charged for the application.

SBA: The Best Kept Secret of the Government

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Left to right – Ann Marie Thompson, Program Director for the WBC – Matt Varilek, Regional Administrator for SBA’s Region VIII – Alan Ormsby, Senior State Director for Utah AARP

To help small businesses start, grow and succeed.

These are the goals of the Small Business Administration (SBA), an independent agency of the federal government, which aids, counsels, assists and protects the interests of small businesses, to preserve free competitive enterprise, and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.

“In some cases you’ll have people who hatched a great idea but who maybe don’t have all the business skills they need to turn that idea into an actual business concern and actual jobs. That’s how we can help,” said Matt Varilek, SBA Region VIII Administrator. Utah is part of SBA Region VIII, along with the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.

Varilek noted that Region VIII is doing well with each of the states touting unemployment rates at least one point below the national average. Utah is faring very well on its own with a 4.3 percent unemployment rate–nearly three full points below the nation’s average.

“People are optimistic about the economy in Utah and part of that is because we have a very active community of entrepreneurs that are bringing great ideas to the table,” Varilek said.

The Salt Lake Chamber recognizes how important small businesses are to our state and country, as they contribute to a stronger economy and help create jobs.

Encore Entrepreneurs

In December, the Chamber’s Women’s Business Center, a resource partner for the Utah District Office of SBA, held an Encore Entrepreneur training session meant for those aged 50+ looking to start a business. “This is a great source of economic activity in our economy so we like to facilitate that,” Varilek said.

Stan Nakano, Utah SBA director, said, “These are folks that have had careers and have developed skill sets. In many cases, they have the financial capacity to launch or consider starting a business. We’ve seen some of the 50+ entrepreneurs look at franchises for possibilities.”

“Every segment of the population would bring different strengths to the entrepreneurial pool,” said Varilek, noting that different generations bring different skills and perspectives to a business. But he said one thing is certain across any generation: “Entrepreneurship is not all roses, you need to have a tolerance for risk.”

There are a few things that are important to being an entrepreneur–being open to learning, being as prepared as possible, and not being afraid to go after capital and government contracts to make your business work and grow. And the SBA can help with all of this.

3 C’s and 1 D: Counseling, Capital, Contracting & Disaster

From a vast network of resource partners who sit down and share advice with entrepreneurs and small business owners to various kinds of training sessions, the SBA provides endless opportunities to learn how to run a small business. “People don’t have to go far to sit one-on-one with someone for help,” said Varilek. Some of the SBA’s  resource partners that provide one-on-one counseling include Small Business Development Center, SCORE and Women’s Business Center.

Not only that, but the SBA is highly involved in facilitating small business loans. Nationally, the SBA totaled more than $29 billion in capital loaned to small businesses. The SBA is on a role with a handful of consecutive good years under their belt, and their hope is for the momentum to continue. A current SBA goal, according to Varilek, is to increase the amount of small scale loans (less than $150,000) the federal agency facilitates. A little note for those who might be interested: there are zero fees for small scale loans.

In 2013, the SBA helped facilitate more than $400 million in small business loans within Utah alone. Despite the sequestration and government shutdown, they managed to facilitate nearly $50 million more in small business loans than in 2012 even though 100 less loans were supplied (1,297 loans in 2013). The total economic impact Utah experienced in 2013 from the SBA’s contributions and programs was $718.9 million.

“We’re proud we are having that impact,” Varilek said. “We couldn’t accomplish anything without our lending partners or the entrepreneurs with the great ideas and passion to put them into action.”

Government contracting is another service the SBA provides. SBA.gov has added more online resources designed to help interested small companies better navigate the federal procurement process. In 2013, the total amount contracted in Utah was $51.9 million–quite a drop from 2012, considering the difference in the number of 8(a) contracts between the last two years was less than 100.

“We have had a drop in contracting to small business, and as we all know there are reasons: the sequestration and the government shutdown really played a part in that,” said Stan Nakano, SBA District Director for Utah.

“Sequestration impacts each industry based on the resources it has, so there were fewer contracts to let and less money to contract,” said Varilek. “It still has a significant impact.”

The new Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program also helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. The HUBZone program contributed $25.7 million to Utah’s economy in 2013.

And the one offering of the SBA that you may not know about is their work in disaster relief and loans. “SBA has a lesser known but a very important disaster programs in terms of low interest loans for business owners, even home owners and renters, who have uninsured damages,” Varilek said.

With all of these offerings to small business owners, the Chamber is proud to recognize the SBA–along with their resource partners Small Business Development CenterSCORE and Women’s Business Center–as veritable resources for those either looking to start a small business or to improve their existing business.

To learn more about the SBA, visit SBA.gov.


New location for Zions Bank Business Resource Center

Friday, December 13th, 2013

In 2006, Zions Bank Business Resource Center opened its doors to provide free services to entrepreneurs wishing to start a business. Since then, the center has assisted more than 5,000 individuals with tools to help them create and expand new and existing businesses.

Earlier this month,  Zions Bank relocated its Business Resource Center to 120 South Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City.

According to the Small Business Association data, capital provided through Zions Bank’s SBA loans in 2013 helped Utah businesses grow so that they could hire 858 new employees and retain over 17,000 positions.

“The Business Resource Center demonstrates Zions Bank’s institution-wide commitment to supporting small businesses as they grow, expand and create jobs” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank’s president and CEO.

By opening this new small business resource center, Zions Bank is assured of knowing who will keep them in business in the years to come.  Small businesses in Utah create jobs (approx. 60 percent of our state’s workforce) and not many organizations provide more to help foster small business job growth and encourage entrepreneurs than Zions Bank.  Zions Bank is also a tremendous small business partner of the Salt Lake Chamber, lending their expertise and resources in so many ways, especially in regard to our Women’s Business Center as they work to develop entrepreneurs–especially women–in our community.

We at the Salt Lake Chamber applaud Zions Bank for this incredible investment in our community and wish them well in their support of small businesses throughout Utah.

The Zions Bank Business Resource Center is open for walk-ins and by appointment on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Beyond its brick-and-mortar location, the online Business Resource Center offers a wealth of articles, worksheets and tips for those launching a new business at www.utahsmallbusiness.com.


This week on the Utah Business Report

Friday, November 29th, 2013

In case you missed one or more of the Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Business Reports on KSL NewsRadio, here is a recap of what we talked about this week.

As accessible as Salt Lake City is with TRAX and the new SLC Bike Share program, sometimes you need a car to get from point A to point B. This month, Enterprise Rent-A-Car launched its CarShare program. It is a membership-based car sharing program that provides cars parked on the streets in the Salt Lake City Metro Area and surrounding University campuses.

Enterprise CarShare provides an alternate method of transportation for people who walk, bike, take public transportation, or just need an additional vehicle for work or fun. Enterprise CarShare gives you access to a vehicle by the hour, day, or overnight, 24/7, so you can go where you want, when you want. It’s completely automated, and once you’re a member, all you need is internet access to rent an Enterprise CarShare vehicle.

Membership in the CarShare program includes fuel, a dedicated parking spot, maintenance, and physical damage/liability coverage for members 18 years old and over with a valid driver’s license.

If you join Enterprise CarShare before January 31, 2014, then Enterprise will waive your first-year’s annual membership fee and application fee. Just visit EnterpriseCarShare.com/slc.

Adapting to the times and needs of people is crucial for business today. That’s the reason the Salt Lake Inn has upgraded comfort and convenience with its recent renovation.

The new owners have reopened The Salt Lake Inn after a complete multi-million dollar renovation of this landmark hotel located midway between Salt Lake City International Airport and the many attractions of historic downtown Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake Inn has many new features that families and business travelers alike will enjoy, including upgraded rooms with high-speed internet access and 37-inch flat-screen HD TVs.

The lobby, public areas and the dining room also received a renovation, featuring the most modern technologies and high-end finishes so there’s a perfect meeting space for your needs.

The Salt Lake Inn is located at 1659 West North Temple, just down the street from the heart of Utah’s capital city.

Small businesses are a crucial part of our economy, especially in our state. In fact, 80 percent of Chamber members are small businesses.

The Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center provides small business owners, entrepreneurs and young professionals the critical skills, knowledge, tools and support necessary to increase their success and strengthen the economy. Through consultations, seminars and networking events, small business owners and those seeking to start a business have many resources at the tips of their fingers.

This Saturday is a special day for small businesses. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is our opportunity to support small businesses throughout Utah and the nation. Small business owners can go to SmallBusinessSaturday.com to find special marketing materials.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

I expect a lot of you are spending today shopping at all the big stores to get the best deals for Black Friday. But tomorrow will be your time to Shop Small—small business, that is.

Small Business Saturday is an American Express sponsored day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the county.

Last year, more than $5.5 billion were spent as Americans came together to Shop Small in their communities on Small Business Saturday.

Small businesses are a great resource for state economies. The creation and prosperity of small local businesses is a great way to keep our own economy strong and growing.

For those small business owners out there, you can learn how to be a part of Small Business Saturday by downloading free marketing materials at SmallBusinessSaturday.com.

So get out there and encourage your friends and family to Shop Small tomorrow for Small Business Saturday… you’re not only helping those businesses, but you’re helping our state. Happy holidays.

For the full reports from this week and weeks past, visit KSL NewsRadio online. Remember to tune in between 12:30 and 1 p.m. to KSL NewsRadio every week day on 102.7 FM or 1160 AM. If your business is doing something great, let us know and we may just feature it on the Utah Business Report.

This week on the Utah Business Report

Friday, October 4th, 2013

In case you missed one or more of the Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Business Reports on KSL News Radio, here is a recap of what we talked about this week.

The Utah Office of Tourism says the state’s tourism industry grew this past year, reaching $7.4 billion in traveler spending. That is nearly an eight percent increase from 2011. Visitors also contributed $960 million in state and local taxes.

According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, tourism is a big job creator in the rural parts of Utah, especially in Garfield, Grand and Kane counties. Of course, the Greatest Snow on Earth makes Summit County a big tourism draw, as well. Statewide, the tourism industry supported more than 127,000 jobs last year.

In 2012, 23.5 million visitors from all over the world came to Utah to enjoy our majestic mountains and national parks Utah offers. That’s an all-time high for the Beehive state!

Utah’s five national parks drew more than 6.5 million visits in 2012, while our 14 ski resorts had more than 4 million skier days.

This November, “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times” is coming to Salt Lake City at The Leonardo. This exhibit presents one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient artifacts from Israel ever organized, including 20 scrolls, which are displayed 10 at a time. The exhibit includes the oldest known copies of the Hebrew bible.

The artifacts and scrolls in the exhibit combine to provide an intriguing look at one of the most influential periods in history, including the emergence of ancient Israel and the births of Judaism and Christianity in the Holy Land.

For the Utah showing, The Leonardo will also highlight the contributions of scholars and scientists at Brigham Young University that have led to a deeper understanding of the meaning and significance of these precious artifacts.

The Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative—or USTAR—has been awarded the Expanding Research Capacity award at the 2013 State Science and Technology Institute’s Excellence in Technology-Based Economic Development national award program.

The six organizations named as winners of this award serve as national models for states and regions investing in science, technology and innovation to grow their economies and create high-paying jobs.

Thanks to USTAR, the state has recruited many world-class researchers, increased research and development funding attraction, and spurred economic growth.

One of the new technologies USTAR is working on is Utah State University’s STORM project, which is a Sounding Tracking Observatory for Regional Meteorology sensor set to launch in 2016.

The Utah Film Commission wants you to produce and direct its next promotional commercial. This is a great opportunity for local filmmakers to have their work seen by thousands of people, including film industry professionals, during the Sundance Film Festival.

Contestants can submit a campaign or individual commercials promoting Utah as a great place to make motion pictures. Up to eight 30-second commercials will be chosen to represent the Utah Film Commission during the Sundance Film Festival on local broadcast television.

The winners will receive $1,500 dollars, a Sundance Film Festival package, official Utah Film Commission gear, as well as free entry into a drawing to win a GoPro camera.

The contest is free and open to all Utah residents and students attending school in Utah. You can find more information at film.utah.gov.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Chamber and SelectHealth, most small businesses in Utah are still struggling to understand the significant changes and overwhelming regulations headed their way.

An overwhelming 81 percent of Utah businesses say they are unclear about what the Affordable Care Act requires of them. Three out of four businesses are either opposed to or ambivalent to the act.

Employer-provided health insurance is a top priority for almost all business leaders. However, only one in five think the Affordable Care Act can lead to better coverage for their employees.

The Salt Lake Chamber is working to help businesses of all sizes understand what they can do to counter the ever-increasing cost of health care. The Chamber developed the Employer’s Toolbox, a set of practical steps for business to control health care costs. You can find it at slchamber.com/toolbox.

For the full reports from this week and weeks past, visit KSL Radio online. Remember to tune in between 12:30 and 1 p.m. to KSL NewsRadio every week day on 102.7 FM or 1160 AM. If your business is doing something great, let us know and we may just feature it on the Utah Business Report.

Apply for the next cohort of 10,000 Small Businesses

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Our economy relies on entrepreneurs to maintain a vibrant and prosperous economic environment. It’s only natural that an investment in small businesses and entrepreneurship would be a good decision.

In a $500 million nationwide investment, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses aim to provide regional small business owners with a practical foundation for revenue growth and job creation through specifically tailored no-cost education and training, business support services, networking clinics, and capital acquisition strategies. As a scholarship program, 10,000 Small Businesses is completely free to those companies who are accepted. For Utah specifically, the investment in small businesses is $15 million.

10,000 Small Businesses program is now accepting applications for the next cohort of small business owners. The application deadline is this coming Friday, Oct. 4.* You can apply and learn more by clicking here.

Qualifications for the program are:

·     Verified ownership of a business entity for at least two years
·     Minimum of four employees
·     Gross annual revenue of $150,000 to $4 million (some flexibility to this requirement may be granted)

This Thursday, Oct. 3, a final application workshop will take place at Salt Lake Community College, which is Goldman Sachs’ educational partner for administering the 10,000 Small Businesses program. Learn more at slcc10skb.com.

More than thirty people graduated from the inaugural 10,000 Small Businesses cohort this past spring. Over the five month period of the program, the participating companies created upwards of 100 jobs in our community.

The program is better than an MBA – you study your own businesses, not someone else’s. It is 100% focused on identifying and executing on opportunities for growth.

Small business owners and managers, you won’t want to miss out on applying for the next cohort of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which begins January 2014. You can learn more and apply at slcc10skb.com.

* – Even if you miss the October 4 deadline for the cohort starting Jan. 2014, you can still submit your applications to be considered for future cohorts.