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DACC hosts small business workshop

A group of new and prospective business owners on Thursday attended a program in Demopolis designed to help them get their start-up businesses on the fast track to success.

The Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce organized the meeting, which was led by representatives of the Alabama Small Business Development Center at the University of West Alabama. The SBDC team spoke on topics like developing a business plan and acquiring financing as a new business.

The University of West Alabama’s SBDC primary goal is to grow the economy across the Black Belt by providing entrepreneurs with the education, information and tools necessary to build successful businesses. The center services are targeted to Choctaw, Clarke, Marengo, Sumter, and Wilcox counties.

Three members of the SMDC team attended the workshop, including Donald Mills, a business director; Yvette Zheng, business advisor; and Sheena Turner, project coordinator.

“We hope to share information (with the business owners) that will help them to start or expand their small businesses. There are a lot of resources available through the SBDC network that can help new businesses to grow and succeed. We are here to turn their business dreams into reality,” Mills said.

Mills told the group that starting a business is full of challenges and rewards.

“As a business owner, there are certain risks you have to take. It’s not for the faint of heart. Those decisions will make or break your business,” he said.

To help these business owners make the best decisions possible, Mills encouraged them to use all the resources they can find, including those at the SBDC and through the Small Business Administration, of which SBDC is a partner member.

The group also stressed the importance of having a strong business plan, not only to help new business owners clarify their goals, but also to help in securing loans that may be needed to grow.

“A business plan is the road map for your business,” Zheng told the group. “It provides the big picture of where you want to go, how you will get there, and how long it will take. It is also an important document for lenders and business partners.”

According to the presentation, starting a business is often an uphill battle. While 78 percent of those start-ups will survive the first year, the odds of surviving beyond that are smaller with only half making it to five years and one-third surviving to 10 years.

DACC Executive Director Candace Dorriety, the workshop was organized based on inquiries to her office.

“We’ve seen many people who have questions about developing business plans and how to fund a new business. We decided to reach out (to the SBDC) to tell them there was a need in our area for additional education on small business development. We are always looking for new opportunities to help businesses grow and succeed. We often gage what we do based on the questions and concerns expressed to the chamber, so this was a perfect opportunity to help. We want our community to know we are here to help and if we can’t help we will find the people who can,” Dorriety said.

For more information about UWA’s SBDC, call 205-652-3665 or email to outreachservices@uwa.edu.

For more information about DACC services call 289-0270.