Jumpstart Your Business

The Jumpstart Your Business series offers practical information on starting and growing a business, including the nuts and bolts of developing a business idea, guidance for creating a business plan, group interaction and networking.

Six workshops in six weeks offer skills and techniques essential for a successful business start-up, or to build capacity and expand an existing business. Take one or take all six, but know that the tools you gain in these intensive workshops will help your business at any stage.

1. Starting a Business in Illinois

Are you considering starting a business in Illinois? Put yourself ahead of the curve and gain the knowledge you need to assist with a successful launch. This workshop will address if business ownership is right for you, the transition from being an employee, volunteer, homemaker and/or independent contractor to business owner and more.

2. Identifying the Market Viability of Your Business Concept

Are you stuck with these questions: How will I know if my business idea will work? What is my target market? How do I research my market?

Identifying the Market Viability of Your Business Concept will provide answers to your questions and much more including:

  • How to conduct your own research
  • How to discover industry trends that impact your business
  • How to better define a target market
  • How to detect your competition and your competitive edge

3. Reaching Your Market Strategically

After you know your target market the question becomes: "How do I reach them?" During Reaching Your Market Strategically you will learn to:

  • Distinguish between selling and marketing
  • Identify features and benefits of your products/services
  • Plan a marketing campaign and the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing activities
  • Identify key forms of media that will help you market your business
  • Identify elements of effective website design
  • Outline your plan of action and budget to build the marketing part of your business plan

4. Financial Smarts for Business Starts

Every business owner must be able to analyze costs and revenues for their business. You will become more competitive and confident when you:

  • Understand the importance of decreasing risk by employing monthly record keeping
  • Understand the critical role of the tax professional/accountant
  • Understand the difference between cash flow and profit and loss
  • Apply five types of financial statements and know the purpose of each statement: -- Budget -- Cash Flow Statement -- Profit and Loss Sheet -- Balance Sheet -- Break Even Analysis
  • Understand how financial analysis (record keeping) and marketing work together
  • Determine when to hire employees/contractors
  • Figure out your tax responsibilities

Note: this workshop is a prerequisite for Module 4.

5. Financial Analysis: Building Your Financial Muscle with the Expert

In this workshop you will be build on the knowledge gained in Financial Smarts for Business Starts, which is a prerequisite for this workshop. You will meet with the WBDC financial specialist to dig deeper into understanding the financial pieces of running your business and learn to:

  • Determine cash flow projections
  • Create revenue assumptions and sales projections prior to listing business expenses
  • Develop sales projections utilizing a variety of strategies
  • Utilize financial ratios
  • Learn what is essential in managing business banking relationships

6. Guiding Your Success Through Building a Business Plan

This workshop is designed to be taken by both new business owners and owners of emerging or established businesses. You will write a draft of your executive summary as an outline for creating your full business plan and your planning process. You will learn all the parts of an effective plan and why it’s important that you get it on paper.

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