August 16, 2019 | Community Spotlight: Mesquite Small Business Workshops ‘Power Up’ Odds for Entrepreneurial Success |
E4 workshop attendees are briefed on banking products at the second of four Entrepreneurship to the Fourth Power workshops. Photo credit: City of Mesquite
We’ve all been there – a downtown business prospect has a great idea, a location all picked out, and a lot of enthusiasm. Then there’s this: the prospect doesn’t have a business plan. The marketing plan consists of one social media platform managed casually. Cash flow? What’s that? You mean I have to have a permit for signs?
That lack of planning doesn’t bode well for the future of a business, and it certainly isn’t a boost for a downtown that could gain a reputation for failure if a series of poorly planned businesses go under.
How do you increase the odds for your entrepreneurs and your downtown? You provide your entrepreneurs – emerging and existing – with information and a plan of action. And how do you do that? In a variety of ways.
In Mesquite, that small business development mantel has been picked up by the local Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) task force, a partnership of five community partners who seek to bolster local businesses with a wide range of services and programming.
It was recognized that one of the biggest issues in Mesquite was connecting entrepreneurs to the myriad of resources available in the area. From small business counseling at the Small Business Development Center to classes at the local community college, the resources were found to exist, but the connection to entrepreneurs was missing.
So, how to make that connection? The first answer to that question came in the form of Entrepreneurs Day. The first priority was to hold the event during a time frame convenient for the target market: people who still had a day job but wanted to take steps toward becoming an entrepreneur. Therefore, the event stretched from late afternoon to early evening.
Second, multiple resources and subjects were available to attendees in one setting. Short introductory sessions were held at four different tables in a large open space downtown. Experts in planning, opening, running and expanding a business were at four different tables in the space. The experts would speak briefly on their area of expertise and then converse with attendees, who had the option of attending only one roundtable or eventually going to three of the four since the roundtables repeated throughout the evening.
There were two short keynote addresses by successful property and business developers. A marketing roundtable continued throughout the event as well as a private room that served as a one-on-one consulting space manned by a very successful restaurant entrepreneur. In addition, there was an available property tour conducted downtown.
Entrepreneurs gathered at E4 – Entrepreneurship to the Fourth Power – pay close attention to featured speakers such as bankers, SBDC, SBA and marketing experts at this series of four small business workshops. Photo credit: City of Mesquite#Blogs
Entrepreneurs Day was a rousing success and awakened the BRE partners to the demand for small business development services. The result was the partnership’s current small business development workshop series: Entrepreneurship to the Fourth Power (or E4), a four-part workshop series.
As with Entrepreneurs Day, the series focuses on critical elements of small business development and management. The workshops were set for evenings (again, the best timing for those who are still in the planning stage) in June, July, August and October. The cost of each class is $10, or $35 for all four.
E1, Planning for Success, was held in mid-June with around 20 students who learned about eight essential steps in starting and operating a small business. The session lasted more than an hour, yet not one participant left early due to the great speaker and vital information. Reviews have been extremely positive.
The remaining three workshops are: Money: Where It Is and How to Get It; Marketing and Sales Strategies, and Budgeting and Financials.
As would be expected, the prospective entrepreneurs have enthusiastically responded to the program content. The interesting thing is that entrepreneurs who currently own a small business are just as excited about using the information to improve their business. An unexpected benefit occurred during the pre-workshop period, and that was interaction between those in attendance, which of course is a great benefit in developing one’s network outside of the workshops.
E4 is part of a well-rounded retention and expansion program developed by the BRE partners, represented by the City of Mesquite and its Economic Development Department (including the downtown development program), Eastfield College (where the SBDC is housed), Mesquite Chamber of Commerce, Mesquite ISD and Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas.
The BRE partners also have a business visitation program and work to provide training and workforce development services to larger employers in the area. There are also multiple networking and educational opportunities for all segments of the business community that focus on everything from assistance for HR managers to showcasing outstanding examples of innovative business spaces.
“E4 is a natural result of Mesquite’s focus on strengthening and supporting its small business community,” said Kim Buttram, City of Mesquite Assistant Director of Economic Development. “By paying attention to the needs of our small business audience, we feel we have put together a growing set of resources that will contribute to the success of our businesses and community.”
Submitted by The City of Mesquite, Texas