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SELF UPDATE / November 1999




SCORE Workshops by SBA to Stress Business Basics

The Small Business Administration's volunteer counseling arm, SCORE, will conduct half-day workshops that offer instruction on some of the business skills important to banks when they are considering a loan. Those who have completed four workshops will receive a Certificate of Achievement that can be included in the business plan required for submission by a bank when you apply for a loan. The schedule is: November 4: How to Start a Successful Business; November 9: Marketing/Selling; November 16: Talking to the Banker; and November 23: Taxes, Licenses, and Record Keeping. For more information, call (312) 353-7724, or visit SCORE's Internet site at www.score.org.

Tip of the Month: Read the Fine Print

Almost everyone has seen the commercials or received the offers in the mail: credit cards that offer "cash back on every purchase." But these offers are not all they appear. Often, if you read the details of the agreement, you'll find that there are conditions attached to the offer, namely:

  • A maximum amount you can receive per year
  • A requirement that you carry a balance each month, i.e. go in debt.
  • A high interest-rate, often close to 18% or more.
  • No grace period unless you pay your previous balance in full.
  • A high cash advance fee.

Offers that sound too good to be true usually are. Always read the fine print! For more tips about credit issues, visit www.nfcc.org.

Web Site Review: www.sba.gov

Being the nation's largest small business provider, you'd probably expect the Small Business Administration's Web site to be chock full of resources, and fortunately, www.sba.gov doesn't disappoint. Contained in the extensive site are sections including:

  • a financing page that allows users to get loan info, download forms, and search for lenders in their area
  • information on how to expand your business through marketing
  • SBA office info and service descriptions
  • procurement information detailing ways to grow your business by selling to state and federal government agencies
  • hundreds of links to other helpful web sites

Browsing such an exhaustive site takes patience, but the rewards are well worth the time invested.

Keeping a Clean Credit History

One of the biggest obstacles that entrepreneurs face when trying to start a new business or expand an existing one is a poor credit history. There are a few simple things you can do to ensure that your credit history doesn't stand in your way. First, get a copy of your credit report, which costs $8 (numbers listed to the left). Then make sure you can read the report. It will list all payments on any credit card account (checking or savings accounts aren't tracked) you've ever had. The number codes represent various levels of delinquency in payments (01 being the best and 09 being the worst). Make sure the information listed is correct. For example, if a payment you made on time is listed as late, call the credit bureau and report it immediately. Make all your current payments on time. If you know you won't be able to pay a bill, contact the organization you're due to pay and explain the situation. Most will work with you to set up a new payment schedule, avoiding the need for them to report a late payment to the credit bureau.

Upcoming Classes

Women's Business Development Center - The WBDC offers a five part entrepreneurial training program called JumpStart Your Business for both startup and existing business owners, as well as workshops on marketing and access to capital. 8 S. Michigan. Call (312) 853-3477 for fee and time information. All are welcome:

  • JumpStart Your Business Workshops:
  • Before You Start- November 9
    • Market Research- November 17
    • Financial Analysis I- December 1
    • Business Plan- November 3 & December 8
    • Financial Analysis II - November 10 and December 15
  • Expanding Your Market - Corporate & Gov' t Buyers - Nov. 23
  • Loan Workshop - November 29

Community Media Workshop - CMW offers workshops on improving your media exposure and communications. Located 600 S. Michigan. Call (312) 344-6400 for information on fees:

  • Becoming a Better Spokesperson - December 3, 8:45 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Creating a Strategic Communications Plan - December 15, 8:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

The Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce - The CCC's School of Business Management offers quarterly weekend courses to help business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs stay ahead of the competition. Located at 1326 S. Michigan. Call (312) 786-0212 for registration and fee information:

  • Basic Marketing & Advertising Promotions- November 13, 8:30-5 p.m. - discusses advertising options, marketing on the Internet, and promotions and public relations.
  • Basic Bookkeeping & Finance- December 11, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. - discusses preparation of balance sheets, profit and loss statements, cash flow statements, and business taxes.

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