Building The Best Sandcastle: Meet UpStart Facilitator Sheri McGuire

Sheri McGuireSheri McGuire is the executive director of Longwood Small Business Development Center. She has helped craft the curriculum for Virginia’s Growth Alliances UpStart Entrepreneur Bootcamp and also is a facilitator during group sessions.

Through the SBDC, she provides follow-up mentoring and guidance to students when the bootcamp is completed.

 

We sat down with Sheri to get her insights on entrepreneurial excellence:

How is UpStart different from other courses designed to help entrepreneurs?

In the past, the course had been taught in the traditional classroom style. The focus was on writing a business plan. There was a textbook and lectures.

I looked at all that with Nick Langlie, and he suggested incorporating the Business Model Canvas, which focuses

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From Doubtful Baker To Confident Businesswoman: UpStart Takes Maria’s Sweet Creations To The Next Level

From Doubtful Baker To Confident Businesswoman: UpStart Takes Maria’s Sweet Creations To The Next Level

Six months ago, former first-grade teacher and baking enthusiast Maria Hamilton wasn’t sure she wanted to be in business. Several years before, she’d left Cumberland Elementary School when she had her first child. Maria went from taking cupcakes to her children’s classrooms to baking wedding cakes. Soon, as friends started asking her to bake sweets for them, Maria’s hobby began supplementing her family’s income. She created a Facebook page and before long she had big clients, like Centra Southside Community Hospital, that used her for special events.

But, she wasn’t sure she could pull off owning her own business. “I was asking myself, ‘Am I really going to do this or should I go back to teaching?’” she says. “I wondered if I could run my own business.”

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Entrepreneurship, Good Ideas, Business Risks and My Little Pony: Meet UpStart Instructor Nicholas Langlie

Entrepreneurship, Good Ideas, Business Risks and My Little Pony: Meet UpStart Instructor Nicholas Langlie

Dr. Nicholas Langlie, known to many as Nick, is the creator and lead instructor for UpStart Entrepreneur Bootcamp offered by Virginia’s Growth Alliance (VGA). The second bootcamp is scheduled to start mid-May and is open to any aspiring business owners living in the VGA region, which includes Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Lunenburg, and Prince Edward counties, and the City of Emporia.

For more information, visit http://www.thinkbiggervga/grow

Nick is currently the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (DIE) at Longwood University. He still chuckles about the acronym.

What’s the biggest thing you hope students learn during UpStart?

I want students to figure out great ideas that people are willing to pay for. And, if they can’t do that, to encourage them to not move forward with whatever idea they have. Because, business ideas

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UpStart Prepares Keysville-Native To Start Local Childcare Center

UpStart Prepares Keysville-Native To Start Local Childcare Center

LaTreasa Early has always had a gift for teaching. Although she currently works for the federal government helping adults earn their GED or high school diploma, her true love has always been early childhood education. “It has always been a passion of mine” says LaTreasa who holds two Master’s degrees, one in Education from Trinity University and one in Educational Leadership from George Mason University.

Now that passion is bringing her home.

Born and raised in Keysville, Virginia, Latreasa is working to open a preschool based in Charlotte County for the area’s youngest learners, from 6 months to four years old.

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Free social media marketing workshops start in May

Free social media marketing workshops start in May

Newly revamped, powerful marketing workshop series!

Each workshop will focus on a different social media topic AND a different marketing concept.

These workshops are sponsored by Virginia's Growth Alliance for businesses in our member communities (counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Lunenburg, & Prince Edward, and the City of Emporia).

One outstanding participant AND their VGA member community will win $750 in free design services - that's $1500 total!

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Free Seminar Planned for Downtown Business Owners

Free Seminar Planned for Downtown Business Owners

A nationally recognized expert in the retail and restaurant industries with a specialization in small towns is coming to region to meet with business owners. Marc Willson is bringing his The Small Town and Merchant Program (STAMP) to Chase City, Clarksville, Lawrenceville and South Hill.
 
Willson, a National Retail Consultant with 40 years of retail experience, has helped more than 1000 retailers, restaurants, artists and tourism-related small businesses in more than 300 towns. Willson works with Longwood University and their Small Business Development Centers to host seminars for business owners and restaurateurs. The Virginia Small Business Development Centers and Willson’s STAMP recently won the Virginia Downtown Development Association’s 2013 Award of Excellence for Organizational Development. According to Jody Keenan, state director of the Virginia SBDC, STAMP has been beneficial for the retailers and restaurateurs who have participated increasing their revenues by as much as 65 percent.

“It is Willson’s use of low-to-no cost options that we find appealing, specifically his focus on developing and expanding the electronic footprint,” said Jeff Reed, executive director of Virginia’s Growth Alliance. “We have found that fewer than 20 percent of all businesses, organizations and attractions within the VGA region have an electronic presence that they manage and maintain. This hurts us in our efforts to attract new business and industry as well as visitors.”
 
Willson has kept in touch with the changing marketplace. “Because of the Internet and the pass of the control to the consumer, a small business owner has become the brand. It’s all about the personal connection and treating your customers like VIPs, learning their names and looking out for product you know they would like.”

Willson added, “This is my battle cry for small businesses, get found and be open. You have to be consistent with your hours and you have to be open when people are there to spend money.”

Willson began his retail career in 1975 as co-owner of the largest distributor of Earth Shoes in the United States. He later joined Britches of Georgetown as a salesperson and finished his 12-year career there as Vice President of Operations after growing the company from nine stores to 109. Willson then joined Circuit City and opened 83 mall-based Circuit City Express stores. He later joined Crown Books and managed 250 bookstores as Vice President and General Manager. Next he became the President and CEO of the Bicycle Exchange, a chain of bicycle superstores in dire need of a turnaround.
Registration is required to attend. You can use this link to secure your place http://www.VGAgroundswell.com/stamp. The final day to register is Friday, March 13, 2015. The workshops are being conducted March 18-20. Learn more at www.VGAgroundswell.com. The sessions are being sponsored by Virginia’s Growth Alliance, Longwood University SBDC, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and Virginia Tourism.

The program covers topics such as “Competing with the Big Boys”, “Window Signs and Visual Displays: Stewards of Your Brand,” and “Restaurateurs – The Experience is Twice as Important as the Food.”

Virginia’s Growth Alliance is a regional economic development marketing organization serving the city of Emporia, as well as Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties. www.vagrowth.com

THE SESSIONS WILL ANSWER QUESTIONS LIKE:
•    What’s different about running an independently owned business?
•    How do I define my customer and make sure I meet their needs?
•    My customers have changed… how do I deal with that?
•    How can I understand all the numbers?
•    How do I deal with lenders, vendors and landlords?
•    What do I need to remember when merchandising my store?
•    How do I get my financials done let alone understand them?
•    What are the “Top 10” customer tips?
•    How can I keep my customers coming back?
•    What do I need to do to market and promote my business on a limited budget?
•    How should I use online marketing and social networking?

And more…

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Think Bigger - Business Empowerment Initiative

thinkbigger

The VGA is launching a business empowerment initiative we like to call, Think Bigger. The initiative combines a series of bootcamp-style entrepreneurial training courses with social media marketing workshops, and is designed to promote entrepreneurial thinking by providing a wealth of business and marketing resources and training to local entrepreneurs and existing small businesseses.

UpStart, (entrepreneurial training), is offered in partnership with the Longwood Small Business Development Center and Longwood University. With both face-to-face and online components, the series will be designed for students to be able to learn most of the subject matter interactively and online, prior to class time, so that the face-to-face and live experiences will focus on hands-on application with real world experts.

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“Building the Foundation for Your New Business” - Small Business Seminar

open-your-businessEntrepreneurship is the American Dream. Unfortunately, of the 1 million businesses started each year, most of them eventually fail. The one common theme may be a lack of planning. If you are considering the possibility of starting a business, this free seminar will provide information that may help your business be among the 20 percent that survive and thrive.

Prepare to start a successful business by evaluating your entrepreneurial abilities, marketing strategies, financial resources, legal form of organization, and receive tips to prepare and present your business plan.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 9:00am — 12:00noon

Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center 118 E. Danville Street, South Hill, VA

Sponsored by Longwood Small Business Development Center & Mecklenburg County Office of Economic Development

Registration is required by calling (434) 738-6191 Ext. 4261 or email gina.mull@mecklenburgva.com

sponsor-smbiz-workshopFunded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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CONTRACTING 101 – Doing Business with the Federal Government - FREE

The Federal government spends over $500B dollars a year on supplies and services with over $100B in contracts being awarded to small business. This seminar will give an overview of the Federal small business goals and small business programs that give advantages to small business who want to contract with the Federal government. We will also provide instruction on how to register to do business with the Federal government and the processes involved in certifying your company to participate in the various small business programs to include the 8(a) program, HUBZone program, Woman Owned Small Business program and the Veterans/Service Disabled Veteran Owned small business program.

The one on one sessions will be one hour (longer if necessary) appointments with companies who want hands on assistance with their Federal registrations and certifications to include SAM registration, CCR and ORCA registrations, HUBZone applications, 8(a) applications, Woman Owned Small Business certification and Veteran/Service Disabled Veteran Owned certification.

Instructor: Joanne Tompkins, Director, Crater Procurement Assistance Center

Pre-registration for non-credit classes is required by calling Angela McClintock at 434-949-1026 or angela.mcclintock@southside.edu

Thursday, February 6th (Seminar) and Thursday, February 20th ( One on One)
John H. Daniel Campus – Keysville, VA
Cost: FREE
Workshop times: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Southside Virginia Community College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institute.

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Give your business the gift of a free confidential business health checkup

Longwood Small Business Development Center free financial analysisLongwood Small Business Development Center offers a myriad of valuable services for our region's small businesses, and they have the perfect tool to help you start the new year off right.

Take advantage of their FREE, confidential, and personalized financial analysis consulting, offered as a service to support existing small businesses. Each confidential analysis includes a benchmark of your performance against real-time private company industry information. To learn more about this free service, visit their blog.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that it's FREE?

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