There’s never been a better time to own a business or be an entrepreneur in Toledo, Ohio. If you are a business owner or entrepreneur in the Toledo area then the resources below should be your first stop when seeking help, guidance, or support with your business: Chamber of Commerce, Business Coaching, SCORE, & SBDC
When it comes to getting the help you need as a Toledo area business owner there are four main options. I’ve personally used all of them and can say from experience that each has its own pro’s and con’s. But before we get into the details of each, lets first discuss why you might be seeking help with your business.
Who Should Seek Business Help?
New Business Owners or Entrepreneurs
When I founded Golden Gate Organics in 2010 I had never owned a business before. At 29 years old I was so optimistic and excited. That soon turned to anxiety and stress when reality set in. For the first time I had to worry about paying vendors, insurance, business licenses, covering payroll, managing cash flow, and getting new customers. All the while I was thinking, “Am I doing this right?” If you are new at business or just starting your own business then you should be reaching out for help with your business. Don’t be scared to ask for help. It can really help you save a lot of time and money in the future to seek business help as soon as possible.
Business Owners Changing Their Business Entity
When my cousin went through a divorce he needed help transitioning his old partnership with his ex-wife into a new LLC owned by him. He didn’t know the first place to turn for help. He just knew that he wanted everything to be legal and he needed help.
If you need business help changing your business structure from a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, or non-profit then the resources below will get you the answers and support to give you the confidence everything will be done correctly and legally.
Business Owners Wanting to Grow Their Business
Sometimes you hear the phrase “grow or get out”. That means that your business either needs to cut expenses or increase revenue, else be forced to close your doors. It can be stressful as a business owner when you are working 80 hour weeks to simply get everything done yet feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. It’s frustrating! When you get to that point it can feel like the only thing left to do is to quit and get a job. When you get to this point don’t give up! Seek out support from the resources below to see how you can begin improving your business and your work-life balance.
Business Owners Ready To Move On
If you’ve been in business for several years and are burned out then you may need help closing down or selling your business. Don’t think you can just say “I quit.” and move on. You need to file a final tax return, officially notify businesses you owe debts too, and more. The decision to close your business isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning of a new process. If you find yourself saying “I want to close my business and don’t know where to start” then the four resources below can be invaluable to help you move on legally and personally.
What To Know When Seeking Business Help In Toledo
When you contact one of the resources below for business help in Toledo you will want to have a good idea of what type of help you need. If you show up and say “I need help with my business but am not sure with what.” then you’ll probably not get much help. This is because there could be a million potential areas you need help with. Unless you are working with a business coach or consultant many of the resources below will not hold your hand through every little detail of your business to help you figure out what is wrong and make it right.
When it comes to asking for business help you will want to be as specific as possible. This is because for some of the resources below they may have specialists they can refer you to. For example, if you need help with getting your business found online then you would not want to talk to a payroll specialist. In this way, the more specific your request for help is, the faster and better assistance you will get. Even if there isn’t a specialist available to assist you then they may be able to refer you out to someone who can.
Also it’s a good idea to make a list of items you need help with. Many of the resources below can provide business help in Toledo for many different aspects of your business. It can also save you a lot of time going back and forth if you can accomplish a few focused tasks at the same time rather than having to wait to make follow up appointments.
Business Help in Toledo: Four Critical Resources
Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce is a membership oriented business community. You will be encouraged to become a chamber member in order to get full access to benefits. However, as with all these resources, you are encouraged to make a free phone call to ask about their services and how they can help your business. Or even better, go down there and introduce yourself. Most chamber employees love talking to business owners. Most chambers have business development resources that can include: free online business plan templates, links to licensing and tax requirements, and an online calendar of events.
It’s been my experience that the main benefit of Chambers of Commerce are really in their networking. That’s because most of their other business resources often are just offsite links to other business resource websites. However, if you are looking for new clients then a Chamber mixer is a fun and easy social you might want to attend. Often you can even find their events for free on their calendar and show up as a guest. Just say you are interested in becoming a member. Additionally, I’ve found that each Chamber of Commerce has its own flavor or personality. Some are vibrant, fun, and super helpful while others are boring and not helpful at all. One way to get a feel for the personality of a Chamber of Commerce in your city is to attend one of their networking events, or mixers.
WHAT IS A MIXER?
A mixer is a fun event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce where chamber members and other business owners can share their business and learn about other businesses. This is an excellent opportunity to get leads on potential new clients for your businesses services as well as learn about businesses and people that can help you with services or products that could be critical to your business’s success. The best thing to do when attending a mixer is to meet as many people as you can and try to determine a way you can help them out. When you go into a mixer with the attitude of helping others, instead of purely trying to benefit yourself, it will open up many new opportunities to you.
The best way to get started with the Chamber of Commerce is to call, or go in person and have a conversation about how they can help your business. Once you are a member you can even ask about hosting a mixer at your business. Remember, it all starts with a conversation!
Northwest Ohio SCORE
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a non-profit organization which works with entrepreneurs. Whether you’re just starting out, in business, or ready to sell or retire, you can get FREE, confidential, business advice from expert advisors. You can even meet face-to-face at one of their mentoring locations in Northwest Ohio.
I’ve worked briefly with a SCORE in the past and have had mixed results. One thing to keep in mind is that the mentors at SCORE seem to all be retirees. This means they have a lifetime of experience to share with you. However, I’ve found from my past experiences working with a SCORE that sometimes their advice is a bit out of date with modern times and technology. For example, a quick look at the Northwest Ohio SCORE workshop schedule lists a workshop for Quickbooks. However, in my opinion Quickbooks is expensive and overkill for most new and experienced small business owners. Especially when there are free online resources like Wave Accounting that does everything an entrepreneur needs and is very easy to learn and use. In fact, as part of my business coaching landscape I train clients how to use this free software with excellent results.
On the flip side, SCORE also hosts other great workshops such as Digital Marketing for small business, and business plan workshops. These workshops are free and are an excellent resource for entrepreneurs looking to start, grow, or better manage their businesses. I recommend signing up for a local SCORE workshop in Toledo, Sylvania, Archbold, or Bowling Green and experiencing it for yourself. To make an appointment call 419-259-7598 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or simply contact them and ask how they can help your business!
Small Business Development Center
The SBDC is usually where I refer entrepreneurs to first for business help in Toledo. Although the SBDC website for the Toledo region is hosted on the Toledo Chamber of Commerce website, the SBDC receives funding from the Small Business Association or SBA. The SBDC provides free one-on-one counseling centered around the business planning process, including financing, market research, marketing strategies, and management and cash flow analysis. Chamber membership is not required to utilize these services.
When I worked with the SBDC in the past I got the most direct results for my business other than when I worked with a business coach. The SBDC is like the local arm or office of the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA is, in my opinion, the best online resource for businesses and the SBDC is kind of like the local rep for the SBA.
If you are interested in learning more about how the SBDC can help your Toledo region business give them a call at (419) 243-8191 and ask how they can help your business.
Professional Business Coach
A business coach is arguably the best and fastest way to get help with your business and start seeing immediate results. There are many reasons for this. A business coach will learn all they can about your business and personalize their approach to your needs. This may include assessing your business health, marketing efforts, client retention strategy, and much more. A professional business coach will help you develop new successful habits that will help you get more organized, teach you new skills, and give you reassurance that you are on the right path. Best of all, and unlike online resources, business coaching sessions are in person and you can ask questions to further your understanding.
A business coach is familiar with the many free resources available to help entrepreneurs save money and time. However, a business coach is also a mentor, guide, and friend. If you have trouble with your car you can read the owners manual or ask your friend for help. But your best bet is to take your car to the mechanics. If you have trouble with your business there is no manual and often times there are few people available that are dedicated to simply helping you fix your business. A business coach is like a mechanic for your business. They come in an show you the best way to operate your business. Because a business coach works with many different clients the coach learns many more tricks and all the good habits from successful entrepreneurs. A professional business coach is your best option if you need business help in Toledo. Even though they are not free you can still contact a business coach for a free initial conversation to ask them questions and see if working with a business coach is right for you.
If you are are an entrepreneur or business owner in need of business help in the United States please visit my website, contact me, or feel free to give me a call at 989-225-0634 for a conversation on your needs and how I can help you and your business grow and become more successful.