First Monday' sessions offer free start-up information
July 24, 2008

YORK, PA -When HACC rolled out its Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies (IES) on the college’s York Campus earlier this year, entrepreneurs immediately had access to a support system developed specifically to help them launch their businesses.

Representatives from the IES, which also resides on HACC’s campuses in Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lebanon, focus efforts on one-on-one counseling and educational programs that serve entrepreneurs from the initial idea stage through the first three years of operation.

The easiest and most productive way for entrepreneurs to take advantage of the institute’s services is to participate in "First Monday," a free, two-hour workshop offered the beginning of each month, said Fran Verotsky, IES executive director.

Counselors review basic start-up information, such as state and federal regulations, the pros and cons of structuring a business, as well as the outline of a business plan.

"First Mondays are like a springboard into our one-on-one counseling services," said Lisa Steffen, IES business counselor. "We share general information in a small group setting. We pique interest, and then (would-be business owners) can go forward on their own the assistance of our business counselors."

Key to the workshop is the value of team building to share ideas that includes an accountant, attorney and business consultant. "It’s a valuable way to share ideas and get ideas and input from varying disciplines," Steffen said.

HACC can provide an ongoing business consultant relationship with the payment of a $25 registration fee. The one-on-one counseling is free.

"The business plan is typically where most of our one-on-one counseling begins," Steffen said. "We focus on planning the business and refining the concept," including state and local resources and looking at the general character traits of the entrepreneur. "In our counseling sessions, we focus on the strengths of the entrepreneur, refining the business concept then building the business plan."

During these sessions, Steffen continued, the business counselor and client discuss what open questions the client may have and what needs to be done to prove the business idea is feasible.

"Another service our counseling offers is gathering research. We consider primary and secondary research as ways to test the feasibility of the business idea," she added.

Chris Robins, owner of Sweet Escapes Cupcake Bar & More, is one of York IES’ success stories. He was unemployed and interested in starting a business of his own when he attended a First Monday session at the York Campus earlier this year.

"First Monday turned out to be the most positive and enlightening experience I could have asked for," said Robins, adding he was especially impressed with the subsequent one-on-one counseling services.

"This service has provided me with an excellent support and guidance system enabling me to better understand the ins and outs of the small business market. I was coached on all aspects of marketing, research and business plan development, which are key points in today’s business market."

Also important, stressed Steffen, are the educational workshops the institute offers as additional support. Fall workshops include the "3-Hour Business Plan," "Financial Projections for Entrepreneurs" and "Make It, Take It," developing a PR campaign.

In addition, Women’s Talkabouts, which began in May in York, have provided more than 40 women a free, relaxed opportunity to network and make connections to help grow their businesses, Steffen said. The next program will be held from noon-1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, at the campus.

Whether it is the educational programming, First Monday or networking that brings entrepreneurs to the IES, it is the one-on-one consulting that will really make the difference, she said. "By providing that relationship, that support system, we become part of a team, and we help them launch their business."

For more information about the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies or the next First Monday, scheduled for 9:30-11:30 a.m. Aug. 4, call 1-888-222-4222, ext. 1311.

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