SCORE · Small Business · Toledo, OH

Helpful Business Resources for Entrepreneurs in Northwest Ohio

I have started my own design business, and over the last year I have learned of some local resources for entrepreneurs. Here are some organizations and websites that have helped me in my journey.

SCORE

northwestohio.score.org

SCORE offers free one-on-one mentoring. I have been meeting with a mentor from SCORE for a year now, and he has been incredibly helpful in teaching me about basic business operations and marketing. He has also referred me to other resources.

SBA.gov

The website of the US Small Business Administration is extremely helpful. I have completed many of their online trainings.

Women’s Business Center of Ohio

wbcohio.org

I just recently attended a writing class with the Women’s Business Center, and I was really impressed. Although their offices are in Cleveland and Columbus, they do hold events in Toledo. They are having a resource fair at the main library on September 20th from 2-7pm.

Toledo Lucas County Library

The library has been an amazing resource for me. At the suggestion of my SCORE mentor, I met with their business technology specialist to learn about the research databases accessible through the library’s website. These databases contain a lot of information, but I have used it primarily to learn about potential customers and competitors. The library also has a great selection of business books.

Assets

assetstoledo.com

Assets offers a 13-week 50-hour training course for new entrepreneurs that meets Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I have not taken this training myself, but I have heard from a friend that it’s very good.

Fitsmallbusiness.com

I have just learned of this website. It offers lots of articles, guides, and courses. I plan on spending more time there later.

Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Development Center

toledochamber.com

This website offers a ton of local information and even some video trainings. The SBDC also offers free one-on-one counseling.

Toledoregion.com

Check out the Entrepreneurial and Business Network section of this website. They have a list of lots of local resources for businesses.

Google Primer

This is a free app that provides quick little business trainings. I think it’s fun to go through if you have a couple free minutes.

I hope you find this list helpful. Do you know of any other Northwest Ohio resources? Please mention them in the comments.

 

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graphic design · graphics for shirts · Heat Press · Onesies · SCORE · Small Business

Rahm Designs, LLC August 2017 Update

I was not feeling well this past weekend, and didn’t get anything done for a couple days. I’m juggling several different projects right now, so it was discouraging to fall behind schedule. However, I’m feeling better now. I’m back at work and slowly tackling projects one-by-one. Here’s an update on Rahm Designs, LLC.

For the past 12 months the Rahm Designs, LLC Etsy shop has seen a 279 percent increase in revenue. From month-to-month it doesn’t usually feel like there’s that big of a change, so it was nice to see the stats over a larger period of time. Most of our orders come from Etsy and I feel it’s the best fit for our items as far as ecommerce sites go, but we still get frustrated with Etsy’s seller’s fees. We also get sales from eBay, but no where near the traffic and sales we get on Etsy.

We will meet with our SCORE mentor as well as the marketing mentor on the 23rd. I have been gathering all of our marketing materials and I’m eager to hear their feedback. It’s been several weeks since we’ve seen our mentor and a lot has happened in the mean time, so we’ll have a lot of catching up to do.

I’m still thinking about the organization of the business. I have many different interests, and I’m not sure what to focus on. Can Rahm Designs, LLC cover several different areas?

I’m excited to be working on some new designs, all of which were ideas from my family. My drawing skills feel a little rusty, but I’m antsy to put out a finished product. It’s been a while since I’ve put out new designs, and I’m excited to show everyone.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now. My husband has a new job, and my job at the mental health agency might be coming to an end in a few months. While it’s a little nerve wracking at the moment, I believe these changes will ultimately be better for my career and my life. Let’s see what the next chapter holds.

SCORE · Small Business

July 2017: Update on Rahm Designs, LLC

I still spend a good amount of time working on Rahm Designs, LLC everyday, but I’ve slowed down a little to concentrate on some other creative opportunities.

My focus is still on marketing. I am reading some helpful books in my free time, and promoting the business on social media daily. I’ve also been sending flyers to local daycare centers. I’m so excited to be meeting with Northwest Ohio SCORE’s marketing mentor in August, that I’ve already been preparing questions for him.

Sales have been up and down, and seem pretty unpredictable. I received a large custom order last week that gave our revenue a boost. Gamer Kids and Baby Pride Wear are still our two most popular Etsy shop sections. In a post last week I shared a coupon code for our Etsy shop to celebrate Gen Con, which will be here in a little less than a month!

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty creative, and I’ve been spending a lot of time writing and drawing. Carrying a journal and sketchbook everywhere I go really comes in handy!

When I started this blog, its sole purpose was to promote Rahm Designs, LLC, but posting every week has shown me a newfound love for writing. I am having fun exploring this interest, and checking out new opportunities. As I mentioned in a blog post last week, I am a new blogger for healthyplace.com. I am co-author of the Recovering From Mental Illness blog, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this resourceful website.

I’m hoping this will be a good month for Rahm Designs, LLC, and I want to thank everyone for your support.

 

Library · SCORE · Small Business

Small Business Marketing Kit for Dummies: My Introduction to Marketing

Small Business Marketing Kit for Dummies by Barbara Findlay Schenck is easy to read with simple explanations and practical advice. I picked up this book at the library after my SCORE mentor suggested I concentrate on marketing for my business. Go over to the Dummies website to check out this book’s cheat sheet at www.dummies.com/cheatsheet/smallbusinessmarketingkit and see a small preview of all the great information available in this book.

book

In chapter 1, Schenck gives a simple definition of marketing: the process through which you win and keep customers. Marketing is such a broad topic, so as a person with no formal business training, this straightforward definition helped me understand what it’s really all about. I had assumed marketing was the same thing as advertising, but I now know it’s so much more than that. Also in Chapter 1, the “marketing wheel” explains how marketing affects every aspect of your business and the entire process of making sales. Schenck says in marketing the whole is greater than the parts, and it’s a never-ending process.

This very thorough book gives lots of advice on research including product, market, competitor, and customer research, as well as covering all the details of developing your brand.

My favorite quote from Schenck has to be, “Your product is what Google says it is.”

The book goes on to explain how to develop goals and strategies, and how to set a marketing budget outlining to use of your time and money. I never really considered budgeting my time before, but as Schenck points out, most businesses use social media as part of their marketing efforts. Social media can be very effective, and while it doesn’t cost money, it does take a lot of time.

Schenck gives good advice for getting your message out both online and offline. This book is actually the reason I started my blog. Schenck suggests blogging on a regular basis as a way to create engaging content for your social media outlets. I’ve learned from this book that it’s important to interact with customers instead of just trying to sell.

This book is full of resources providing the names and websites of helpful organizations and services. It even comes with a CD packed with useful forms and checklists to accompany each chapter. I printed them out and put them in a binder, and I continue to work on them as I develop my marketing plan.

Over the past couple months I’ve read several marketing books, and I’m always at the library looking for more. This was the first book I picked up, and I’m really glad it was. It gives an excellent overview of marketing, especially for someone like me who is new to running a business. I highly recommend it!

Library · SCORE · Small Business · Toledo, OH

10 Things I Learned at the SCORE Marketing Training

Placeholder ImageOn May 4th I attended SCORE’s marketing training at the Kent Branch Library. Lately I have been reading just about any marketing book I can get my hands on. It’s now very clear to me that marketing is crucial to success as a small business owner. Marketing is everything! Here are 10 things I took away from the training.

  1. Marketing is such a broad topic. There’s so much to it and my hand hurt from taking so many notes!
  2. You must have the courage to ASK for the sale.
  3. Have an elevator speech prepared, and remember KISS.
  4. If your prices are too low you’ll disturb the market. New businesses suffer the most in price wars.
  5. Remember, “Who’s going to write the check?” That’s whom you are really selling to.
  6. Don’t coast. Once you are making sales, you have to stay on top of your game.
  7. Know your strengths.
  8. Know your competitor’s strengths.
  9. Engagement is important for keeping customers and gaining new ones.
  10. And finally, SCORE is popular! The training was well attended!

 

SCORE · Small Business · Toledo, OH

Top 5 Reasons to Check Out Northwest Ohio SCORE

I am in the process of developing my graphic design business, Rahm Designs, LLC, and I have been meeting with mentors from Northwest Ohio SCORE since last July. I graduated college in 2014 with a degree in commercial art, so I can do the design part, but SCORE has taught me so much about operating a business. Really it’s just the beginning, and I still have so much to learn. I just have to share how amazing SCORE is because they have helped me so much.

From their website, northwestohio.score.org:

“SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and has been mentoring small business owners since 1964.”

So here are my top 5 reasons to check out Northwest Ohio SCORE:

1. Through one-on-one mentoring you receive invaluable advice.

SCORE mentors are experts in business and represent many different industries. Here are a few ways my mentors have helped me. They’ve kept me grounded and realistic by always looking at the numbers. At each meeting I receive “homework assignments” for the next meeting, which has really helped me progress as well as stay organized and motivated. It’s like my mentors know how to push me and praise me just enough to keep me going in the right direction. I am not a very patient person, so it really helps me when my mentors have reassured me that I’m making progress. I always look forward to our meetings, and to learning what the next steps are.

2. They utilize the Toledo Lucas County Public Library.

I have to admit I didn’t know much about the libraries in Toledo when I first reached out to SCORE. Not only do I meet my mentors at the library, Northwest Ohio SCORE utilizes all the amazing resources available to small businesses there as well. At the suggestion of my SCORE mentors, I met with one of the library’s business technology specialists one evening to learn about the research databases available on the library’s website, toledolibrary.org. I was blown away and overwhelmed by all of the information available right at my fingertips. Legal documents, customer demographics, interests, and spending habits, business competitors’ information…it’s all there. The library offers so much more, but that was the most eye-opening experience I’ve had so far.

3. They offer trainings.

At our last meeting, my SCORE mentor told me about a series of trainings offered by SCORE, which are also hosted by the library. I am attending a marketing training on May 4th. I will let you know how it goes. I’m excited to experience SCORE in a group setting since I am so used to my one-on-one meetings with my mentors.

4. Their website is overflowing with information and resources.

Check out northwestohio.score.org and click “Browse The Library”. There’s hundreds of blogs, articles, podcasts, templates, checklists, videos, you name it… it’s there and easily accessible!

5. Their services are FREE!

With all that I’ve learned from SCORE and the one-on-one attention I receive, I still can’t believe their services are free! SCORE mentors are VOLUNTEERS and obviously very passionate about helping others succeed in business.

I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there thanks to my SCORE mentors!