Is Training Really Worth It?

(Written by Mick Whit, Business Development Specialist, OSU South Centers)

Different manufacturing companies and different philosophies when it comes to the importance of employee and workforce training. Some see it as a headache and only address training needs when there is a problem or when they are required to provide training to receive safety credit or are mandated in some way. Other companies are much more proactive. They are actively looking for ways to improve, inspire, increase productivity, and raise the overall level of knowledge and capability of their workers.

What kind of company are you? What kind of manger or supervisor are you?

If you are in doubt about the importance of training and improving the skill of you workforce take a look this article from Dan Wibbenmeyer at Swoosh Technologies and maybe you will see things differently.

6 Reasons Why Manufacturing Companies Train Their Employees

Ohio EPA Resource Guide for Businesses and Communities

(Shared by Kelly O’Bryant, Business Development Specialist, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance (DEFA) provides several compliance, technical and financial assistance programs available to help Ohio communities and businesses with their environmental needs.  These services and relevant contact information are summarized in their “Resource Guide” which is available to view and download at:

http://epa.ohio.gov/Portals/29/documents/ocs/ResourceGuide.pdf

For questions about the guide, please contact Pejmaan Fallah at Pejmaan.Fallah@epa.ohio.gov or (614) 644-3666.

New Manufacturing Resource Available at the South Centers

(Shared by Ryan Mapes, Program Leader, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

The Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) was recently awarded a contract from the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) to support the growth of small and medium sized manufacturing companies in the southeast region of Ohio. The contract establishes CDME as a Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate for the State of Ohio in support of Ohio companies. CDME will partner with the Ohio State University South Centers Business Development team to implement services in the Southeast Ohio region.

The MEP at Ohio State will focus on providing value added CDME has a full-time engineering staff and is led by a team of former entrepreneurs and business owners who have successfully grown manufacturing and product innovation companies. The MEP program has access to CDME’s 40,000 square foot manufacturing space on the main Columbus campus, as well as most of the equipment in the broader Ohio State University landscape.

CDME MEP is primarily focused on new product development, product improvement, innovation, business development, lean manufacturing, and supply chain management.  The program assists companies in the central and southeast Ohio regions in the following manner:

  • Providing value-added engineering support for product development and innovation with an emphasis on design for manufacturing.
  • Commercialization support and partner opportunities with commercial OEMs.
  • Professional program management and industry-friendly contracts.
  • Proposal identification and development support for federal, state and commercial funding programs.
  • Access to the research capabilities and facilities of The Ohio State University and other State of Ohio research universities and federal laboratories.
  • Introduction to support partners in the CDME network (incubators, venture capital, supply chain partners, fortune 100 OEMS, etc).
  • Prototyping and small scale manufacturing of new products.
  • Access to highly motivated students with experiential learning looking to join innovative manufacturing companies upon graduation.

For more information, log onto https://cdme.osu.edu/

USDA Rural Development Business & Cooperative Programs

(Shared by Kelly O’Bryant, Business Development Specialist, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Rural Development is pleased to announce important changes to the Business & Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantee Program. These changes will better serve rural communities by helping lenders provide loans to businesses and helping to increase employment opportunities for rural residents. These changes include but are not limited to:

  • Removal of the U.S. Citizenship requirement for companies wanting to use the B&I loan guarantee to increase employment in rural areas.  The applicant company will need to demonstrate the loan funds will remain in the United States and will be invested in the rural community to create and retain employment opportunities.
  • Owner subordinated debt may be included as equity provided the debt was established in exchange for cash and the debt remains in the company for the life of the guaranteed loan. This change can help applicants meet the minimum tangible balance sheet equity requirements of the program. Minimum tangible balance sheet equity for an existing business is 10% while a startup business is 20%.  All financial statements must be prepared according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
  • New Market Tax Credit projects are now be eligible for assistance through the B&I program.  Subordinated debt made by the Community Development Entity can be considered as equity into a project.  This is another means of helping the business meet the minimum tangible balance sheet equity requirements.
  • The guarantee fee can be reduced to 1% of the guaranteed portion for businesses that support value added agriculture; promotes access to healthy foods; or is a high impact business development investment.
  • Loan guarantees can for agricultural production can be 50% or $5MM, whichever is less, of vertically integrated businesses. This is a substantial increase from the previous agricultural production maximum amount of $1,000,000.

Should you have any questions regarding these changes or if you would like additional information on the B&I Loan Guarantee Program, please contact one the Business Programs Staff listed below. We are willing to provide training or outreach on these new regulations should that be necessary to effectively implement this program within your organization.

Christie Hooks                   Christie.Hooks@oh.usda.gov       614-255-2397

Cindy Musshel                   Cindy.Musshel@oh.usda.gov       614-255-2427

Debbie Rausch                  Deborah.Rausch@oh.usda.gov    614-255-2425

Jennifer Brown                 Jennifer.Brown@oh.usda.gov      614-255-2423

Randy Monhemius           Randy.Monhemius@oh.usda.gov      614-255-2424

2018 Social Media Trends

(Written by Melissa Carter, Business Development Specialist, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Last year I wrote a post about the trends and tips we would probably see for 2017.  Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year already!  Now’s time to update that list for 2018!

  1. Filters/Augmented Reality – You’ve already seen videos and pictures with filters on them changing your looks and voice.  But how should you incorporate it into your business?  Have your customers promote your business with a specific filter by taking a selfie in your store or with your product. Some individuals may be more willing to post a video about your product if they are behind a filter that changes their voice or face. SnapChat and Instagram are beginning to allow brands to create their own filters (they are costly now).
  2. Live – No it’s not going away! Livestreaming through Facebook or Instagram is no longer just for those cutting edge individuals and businesses. It’s an expectation now. People are more likely to watch a quick live video than to read an article (I know, you’ve just asked yourself, why didn’t she create a video for this article?)
  3. Instagram Stories – While I shared this last year as a new trend, this is another aspect of social media that is growing quickly. But why? It’s a quick video or picture that your brand can share which goes away in 24 hours. Stories are at the top of your Instagram app so users do not have to scroll through lots of pictures until they see your brand. Your business can utilize it to share a special deal, showcase a product, or show off a day in the life of your operation.  Use your Story to create a sense of urgency.
  4. Focus on Generation Z – This population is just starting the workforce and are gaining in purchasing power. According to RetailDive, Generation Z individuals are very influenced by social media and not as much about price. In marketing and communication, Gen Z wants videos, short content, and the ability to interact with businesses through Facebook Messenger or WeChat.
  5. Engagement – Customers want to share their experiences with a product or service. Engaged with your customers by thanking them for a review, create opportunities to interact with them through questions or live video, and offer ways for customer input.

Make time each week for social media marketing. It’s crucial for the growth and success of your business.

Ohio AgritourismReady Conference: Local Food and Local Fun

(Written by Melissa Carter, Business Development Specialist, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Want to learn how to successfully manage and market your Agritourism Operation in Ohio? Come join us on March 10 at the OSU South Centers to hear from the experts and your peers to gain knowledge you can implement as soon you return to your farm.

Learn about:

  • Food & Animals on the Farm: Liability Issues
  • Selling Food at the Farm: Pricing
  • Promotion and Profits

See the flyer for more details:

International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE)

(Shared by Kelly O’Bryant, Export Assistance Network Director, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

The International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE) program helps small businesses increase exports and create jobs in Ohio’s economy. The program reimburses at a 50% rate, capped at $12,500 per eligible approved applicant.  The IMAGE program is funded, in part, through the Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). For more information about the IMAGE program, visit: www.image.development.ohio.gov.

Don’t delay, application deadline is April 1, 2018 and all eligible activities must be completed by September 29, 2018.

The Ohio Export Internship Program

(Written by Kelly O’Bryant, Export Assistance Network Director, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Is your company looking to export for the first time or to improve their current export initiatives? Companies can receive up to $3,600 reimbursement for intern wages and have trained, full-time summer interns that will focus on export development.  Watch the video below for more information.  Companies have until March 1st to apply. Click here for more information.

Half of Millennials Want to Start a Business: Here’s How to Get Going

(Shared by Brad Bapst, Director, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

By Kali Geldis NAV

If you were born between 1977 and 1995, there’s over a 50% chance that you would start your own small business if you knew where to get help to make it happen.

America’s SBDC, the face of a nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), collaborated with the Center for Generational Kinetics to better understand how different generations view entrepreneurship. The findings indicated that millennials were especially eager to start businesses of their own, but there were some things standing in their way.

Millennials stated that they’d like help writing a business plan, and they rate money high on the list of things holding them back from starting a business. In fact, 45% of the study respondents said that finding capital to start a business was their biggest barrier. That’s not a huge shocker — there are more than 44 different types of business financing out there, and they come with unique interest and fee structures.

Here are five tips that can help any millennial, no matter their entrepreneurial dream, get started. 

1. Make Sure You’re Ready to Start a Business of Your Own

Don’t be in too big of a hurry to become your own boss. Make sure you’re ready to take this giant step. Ask yourself these questions:

• Do you want to start a business for the right reasons? Don’t start a business because you’re frustrated with your job search or you’re in a job you hate. Make sure you’re running toward your dream, not searching for a hiding place.

• Do you have financial resources to support the startup period? One of the first things you’ll work on is establishing business credit and obtaining initial financing, but those things probably won’t happen on day one. Make sure you have the resources to support yourself until the business generates a paycheck for you.

2. Create a Plan

You need a written business plan no matter how wonderful your idea is for your new company. Creating this plan will teach you a great deal about how to run your business. Put it in writing so that you can revisit it often and update it as situations change.

You can write the plan yourself. If you’re not an expert at writing business plans, there are free resources to help you. Look up your local SBDC or the closest resource provided by the Small Business Administration. They offer free consulting.

3. Set Up the Best Company Structure

There are a variety of company structures you can use, from LLCs to S-Corps. Seek professional advice from your accountant and lawyer to ensure you make the right choice.

4. Get a Small Business Startup Loan (If Needed)

If your business plan calls for obtaining startup funds to support initial growth, look into your options as soon as possible. Many small business loans are reserved for companies that have a business history because they’ve been in operation for a couple years. Make sure you understand if it’s possible to fund your startupwith outside funds.

5. Establish Credit for Your Business

Even if you don’t need startup funding, the odds are that you will need financing at some point to expand your company and grow. The most common reason for needing funds is to take advantage of growth opportunities that require more cash than you have in reserves. Make sure that you establish credit for your business before you need it. (You can check your personal and business credit scores for free on Nav to get a full picture of your business credit profile.)

If you’re an entrepreneurial millennial, take advantage of all the resources that are available to help you succeed in starting your own business.