For the past year, it’s been clear that business and entrepreneurship have evolved to becoming more digital and accessible. With that has come new ways and resources to access information for business growth and scale. From funding to software, the tools are at our fingertips to reach new levels of success in the expansion. Not sure where to start? We’ve compiled some of the top resources in 2021 to help grow your business.
An incredibly valuable benefit of any resource in today’s business environment is virtual, personalized coaching. SCORE, a nonprofit resource founded in 1964 by the U.S. Small Business Administration has more than 10,000 business experts and funding from the government. SCORE provides free mentoring programs and workshops at more than 250 locations across the country. Whether your preference is in person or online, you can request a business mentor to help start growing your business: www.score.org/find-mentor. You can also ask score to match you with a mentor.
The Starting Idea
Startup Growth Magazine’s blog, The Starting Idea, has an extensive library of free, online resources to help you skyrocket your startup or blog. As seen in Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, Influencive, and more, this blog offers actionable info for personal branding, a “growth toolbox”, and marketing and productivity guides. If you need more apps and software than advice, they’ve combined over 450 free business tools to help you in a wide range of areas.
Startup Grind Global Conference
Passionate entrepreneurs everywhere need to add this premier, now 100% virtual conference to their agendas. Startup Grind will be held February 22-25, 2021, joining tech startups around the world in conversation, thought leadership, workshops, and collaboration. The “choose-what-you-pay” model for attendance (with a pay $0 option) now makes the conference more accessible than ever. The iconic lineup of speakers is the icing on the cake.
Small Business Development Centers
America’s SBDC is the most comprehensive resource for small businesses in the U.S. and surrounding territories. Like SCORE, SBDCs are in part funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, along with leading universities, state development agencies and private partners. Small and aspiring business owners can receive free business training to start and grow your business.
Is your business women-owned? SMB Compass provides a comprehensive guide to grants for women in business. According to the site, studies show that female entrepreneurs find it more challenging to secure funding compared to male business owners. These grants help women reach their business goals and minimize any debt they may incur. Conveniently, SMB Compass combined a list of grant resources encompassing both private and government-funded grants. They’ve also provided in-depth information on each grant and info on how to start your searching process.
Ready to hit the books and learn more about your craft? Coursera is a free, online platform with access to courses, certificates and degrees from universities and companies around the world. Founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, the platform partners with universities and companies globally, including Google, Duke University, and IBM to deliver over 3,800 courses in a variety of topics.
The right resource is out there for you
Your secret to success is just that – yours. While this list is very helpful, it’s not the end-all-be-all, and you should be continually seeking what works for your success. If you add to your resources, make sure to share them with other entrepreneurs like yourself.
Budding startups and entrepreneurs in Ohio: this one’s for you. If you’re a business owner or founder with a brilliant idea that has sustainability, now’s the time to consider your business’ funding for the future. There are many ways to go about funding options–crowdfunding, angel investors, venture capital firms, and more. In this article, we’ll explore Venture Growth Valley as a micro venture capital firm, and how such firms are star choices for business funding.
Founded in 2017 by five Mahoning Valley organizations, Valley Growth Ventures targets high growth, new startups across Ohio–primarily Mahoning Valley. Our double bottom-line mission is simple: generate positive ROI for investors while driving local wealth and job creation. We seek to assist local companies with expansion, creating and building value, and to bring businesses outside of our region to the Mahoning Valley area.
Our team consists of experts in the technology space, including IT, B2B software, energy, healthcare, additive manufacturing, and advanced materials, working with tech companies across Ohio. Outside of tech, we also invest and partner with high growth startups in other areas. We aim to help businesses grow faster while staying in the local Mahoning Valley area. To get a better glimpse of the companies we partner with, reference our portfolio.
Why a micro venture capital firm over other funding sources? Micro firms can often be underestimated. Going “small” brings a much more intimate partnership and gives startup entrepreneurs the ability to focus on their craft while the micro-VC focuses on outbound growth. Micro VC fund managers tend to lead by experience having backgrounds in business, and are more willing to “get their hands dirty”, getting into the trenches of growing the business. Simply put, nobody wins unless the startup wins, and partnering with a micro-VC generates equal interest in the performance and success of the company.
Micro VCs fill a necessary gap some startups see when seeking funding from traditional VC firms. According to Small Biz Trends, startups now require less capital to achieve product market fit – as compared to what traditional VCs can offer in order to see mutual success between company and funding firm. Micro VCs can offer smaller investment rounds to startups for mutual benefit – something that larger firms and other sourcing options can’t easily do.
Interested in learning more about how our firm can help your company grow? If you’re a tech startup or small organization in Ohio, and particularly northeast Ohio, reach out to us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about creating scalable growth with Valley Growth Ventures.
When venturing out on your own business path, it’s important to bring the right people along – not only for the sake of the business’ success, but also for investment purposes. Investors want to know how well your business is run, and if the right people are in the right positions to keep the success of the business trending upward year over year.
But what positions should you hire, and who should you look for? Let’s take a deep-dive into the four key positions for a startup, and the characteristics needed to fill these roles.
You need an operations pioneer.
It’s not uncommon for founders to take on the operations role. But whoever does it needs to be great at wearing many hats to keep the foundational components of business in check. From finances and employee management, to inventory and business relationships, the operations lead should understand all components in business as they will be tied up in many aspects. Someone who is a go-getter, comfortable with getting their hands dirty, and has a can-do attitude is great for this role. This person should be strongly invested in the success of your business.
A marketing guru.
Your marketing person will help bring your brand to life. Just like the operations lead, the marketing guru should have a firm understanding of all things marketing – we’re talking communications, PR, design, budget management, events, branding, and more. This person will be responsible for publicly executing on the company’s mission, values, and goals, and capturing your target audience. This person should be well-rounded in business management, marketing tactics, have a can-do attitude, and be very creative – aka, they should know how to make a dollar out of 15 cents.
The salesperson that can get things done.
Your salesperson or team is who will help monetize the hard work your company has generated. This person should know how to generate interest in your products or services, especially if you’re still in the stages of targeting your audience. If your business is more B2B, your sales lead needs to know how to generate and nurture business relationships. This person thrives off of smashing goals – like quarterly targets, doesn’t need much direction to get their work done, and is a people person – they need to be able to speak and capture the interest of different audiences and most importantly, be able to close deals!
A product manager.
This lead will own and perfect your product. Product managers also speak on behalf of your customers – they listen well to what the customers want and work back with business partners to conceptualize those desires. Product people tend to be very passionate and are customer advocates. They should demonstrate a strong understanding of the product (aka, own its functionality and abilities) and be able to perfect it through identifying areas of opportunity.
Who you hire in the initial stages of your company will set the tone for culture and pace in terms of reaching the company’s goals. Your team’s performance and capabilities will also capture the attention of your potential investors. Hit the ground running with these key roles filled on your team, and you’ll certainly be able to see strong returns on your investment. Good luck!