Collaboration can breed efficiency, and five area business organizations hope small business owners reap the benefits of the partners' new educational program.
Sterling and Dixon Main Streets and the chambers in Sterling, Dixon and Rock Falls are setting up the Small Business Boot Camp to offer training and educational resources to that segment of the business community for a nominal fee.
With limited resources, it can be difficult for small businesses to stay on top of issues that can have a significant impact on their operations.
"Small business owners often do not have ready access to attorneys, accountants, or other professionals the way a larger corporation does," said Janna Groharing, executive director of Sterling Main Street.
Keeping the events affordable was an important consideration for the organizers, Groharing said.
"Whether a business has just one or 100 employees, there are a wide variety of issues of which a small business owner should be aware, and we want to bring that information to them."
Camp will break June 5 with what organizers hope is the first in a series of events. An "Ask the Experts" session at Sauk Valley Community College will bring together representatives from the Illinois Attorney General's office, the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the Illinois Department of Revenue, and Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. The Gallagher rep will focus on the Affordable Health Care Act.
The session will begin with check-in and continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m. The experts will give brief presentations from 8 to 9 a.m., and business owners will jump in for a round-table discussion and questions from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
"Enlistment" is required by May 30; the fee is $5. Registration forms are available at the offices of any of the five event sponsors.
Groharing said she has drawn on her involvement with Sauk Valley Shop Small to get a better handle on the concerns of small business owners.
"We've talked quite a bit about proposed minimum wage increases, the Affordable Health Care Act, taxes, retirement and succession plans, and insurance," Groharing said. "There are lost business days with things like fires and water main breaks. They want to know if they have enough protection."
The events are not exclusively for business owners or chamber members.
"They could be very beneficial for people who are just thinking about starting a business," Groharing said. "They are open to anyone who is interested."
Organizers hope that the boot camps will become quarterly events. They plan to get creative and add some fun to the educational experience.
"This fall we would like to host an after-hours reception where we do speed networking," said Josh Albrecht, executive director of Dixon Main Street. "It's kind of like speed dating, only you get 2 minutes at a table, exchange some information, then go to the next table."
"Ask the Experts", June 5 at Sauk Valley Community College
Representatives from Illinois Attorney General's office, Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois Department of Revenue, and Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Check-in and continental breakfast – 7:30 to 8 a.m.
Experts' presentations – 8 to 9 a.m.
Business owners/experts round-table discussion – 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Cost: $5; register by May 30 at one of the five partnering organizations.