How can Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs best serve established Bluffton businesses and start-up Bluffton businesses?
BCE posed the question to Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce members during the first chamber breakfast of the 2016-17 season on Friday morning, Sept. 9, 2016.
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The question launched small group discussions from chamber members, who offered several suggestions.
“The idea behind Friday’s program is that BCE offers think tanks to any business – established or start-up – to assist the business in problem solving,” said Brendon Matthews, BCE board president. “We wanted chamber members to see how our think tanks work. Only this time, BCE was the client. Chamber members were our problem solvers.”
BCE offers a think when a business identifies a “problem.” BCE assembles six or more professionals to help solve it.
BCE gathers Bluffton businesspersons to help in a 90-minute roundtable discussion. The discussion is confidential. Notes, offering business solutions and ideas, are taken and provided to the business owner. Think tanks cost $200.
Some of BCE’s past think tanks tackled local business problems such as:
• My business needs a marketing plan. What do I do?
• My business wants to attract more customers. Here’s what I’m doing now. What can do to increase traffic?
• My business is very busy in the spring and summer, but business slows in the winter. Help me!
• My start-up business needs to form an LLC and get some accounting help. What do I do?
• How do I reach Bluffton University students with my business? I have products and services that could attract them, but I’ve not succeeded.
Depending upon the needs of the business owner, BCE think tanks have include persons with backgrounds in law, accounting, marketing, retail, public relations, banking and village government. Bluffton University students also participate, depending upon the discussion topic.
Although notes are not yet compiled from Friday’s BCE session, some of the ideas floated by chamber members to help BCE included:
“Create testimonies from businesses that BCE has helped. Make a video of these testimonies and post it on your website.”
“Offer a workshop on business plans and explain why these are necessary.”
“Create a small-town, small-business one-day conference that focuses on small business.”
“See if you can assist businesses in Bluffton to collaborate with one another to increase customer traffic.”
The think tank is one of BCE’s services to small businesses. Additional programs BCE offers will be featured in future Icon articles.