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The Chamber is a portal for the local resources available to help businesses succeed. We connect people with the experts by partnering with organizations that have the expertise in different areas related to running a successful business. These partners have expertise in areas such as one-on-one business counseling, financing, minority and women business procurement, importing and exporting, and technology commercialization among others. These resources and tools are available to businesses no matter what stage they are in.
Click here to see a list of the partner organizations and their areas of expertise.
For more information or to contact one of these partners, please contact the Chamber at 610.376.6766.
Business EducationBeing good at what your trade or profession is does not mean you will have a successful business. You need to know how to run a business, from A to Z. To be successful, you cannot only work in your business, you need to work on your business as well.
We are committed to help existing small businesses grow. We help take your business to the next level by offering extensive educational programs geared just for the small business.
Our Free One-Hour Consultation Service is a peer-to-peer consultation program designed to offer solutions to various challenges business owners face. A business owner is matched with a Chamber volunteer professional who has expertise in the business owner's area of need for a free, one-hour confidential consultation. You will receive expert advice on topics including legal, human resources, marketing, accounting or any other business concern you may have.
Our staff member from the Business Resource Center will coordinate the consultation for you.
Ways of Expanding Your BusinessThere are different ways to expand your business. You can expand in your existing market, or you can go into an entirely new market. You can expand in the same line of business or you can go into an unrelated one. No matter what you choose to do, you need to have a plan and the growth must be controlled and systematic. Uncontrolled growth can have a negative impact on your business rather than a positive one. Before you start to expand, make sure you do your homework and look at all the options.
Here are some ways to expand your business:
Establish an internet presenceA website has many benefits. It allows you to reach potential customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it does not have geographical boundaries. Depending on what your product or service is, it gives you the potential of having clients from across the globe. A well designed website can give your business a professional image that can give you an advantage over your competitors. A website is also a powerful marketing tool and can help you gather important information on potential clients and help you generate valuable leads.
Open a new locationOpening a new location of your business can help you reach new markets, and therefore, new customers. Proper research should be done to make sure the market you want to expand into is a viable option. You also need to consider the financial and personnel requirements this will entail as well as logistical considerations based on your type of business.
Buy out a competitorBuying out a competitor can help you gain market share and possibly allow you gain a new product or service you did not offer before, and it has an added benefit- less competition. As when you buy any business, you need to do your homework to make sure you are buying the right business, at the right price. Please see below for more information on purchasing an existing business.
Diversify your product/service offeringIs there a product or service that can add value to what you offer? Is there a product or service that has a different seasonality cycle than what yours does? Consider adding a product or service that can add value to what you already do, that can benefit your current customers or bring new ones in, or that has a different seasonality cycle than your current ones. This will help bring more benefit to your current customers, bring you new customers and help with seasonality cash flow issues, as well as generate more sales.
Consider franchising your businessYou, as franchise owner, are paid a fee and royalties to have someone open a satellite location modeling your existing business. Franchisees commit their own capital and resources; therefore share in the risk of expanding market share. Franchising is usually an option if you cannot, or do not want to, finance internal growth.
Sell your product through a Dealer or DistributorSell your product to a third-party dealer or distributor at wholesale prices, who in turn resells it to a retailer or the end consumer at a higher price and makes a profit. You have the potential to generate more sales without having to worry about someone on payroll. But on the other hand, dealers and distributors are generally independent third-party people over which you have minimal control.
Gain large contracts through partnershipsJoin forces with another small business which offers the same product or service you do to go after a large contract which you could not do on your own due to a lack of resources; or join forces with another small business that offers a similar or related product or service to go after contracts neither one could do on your own due to a lack of expertise, equipment and or qualified personnel. When entering into partnership agreements make sure everything is clear and in writing. It is advisable to get legal counsel.
Business with the GovernmentPartnering can be used to do business with larger corporations or the government, be it federal, state or local. Local government can include agencies such as school districts, municipal governments and county government.
For more information on doing business with the state of Pennsylvania, visit the Department of General Services website or call them at 717.787.6708.
For more information on doing business with the government, contact the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center at 484.646.4003 or visit their website.
Doing Business InternationallyNow more than ever doing business around the globe is more accessible to small and medium sized companies.
For more information on doing business internationally or for assistance contact the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center at 717.232.3475 or visit their website.
When considering any of the above-mentioned ideas, make sure you do your homework and seek professional advice. Before entering into any business venture or signing any contract, it is wise to speak with a business advisor or seek legal advice.
For more information or if you have questions, please call the Chamber at 610.376.6766 or send us an email with your specific question to info@GreaterReadingChamber.org
Purchase an existing businessPrefer not to start from scratch? There are certain benefits that can come with buying an existing business, but this requires important research and due diligence.
To be sure you are making the right decision; here is a checklist of some important considerations:
- Why- Why does the owner really want to sell the business?
- Sales - What can they tell you? Look at patterns, trends, customer base. Speak with current suppliers.
- Costs - What are the business' fixed and variable costs, staff costs?
- Profits - Is the owner willing to share financial information? If so, analyze financial records, future cash flow projections and profitability. If not, be very careful. You should get the three prior years of the business' tax returns or accountant prepared financial statements and the current year-to-date financials.
- Assets - Identify and check all assets, including intellectual property and leasing arrangements.
- Liabilities - What outstanding debts, refunds and warranties does the business have? You may be liable for these as the new owner.
- Purchase agreement - Review it carefully
- Tax - GST, Capital Gains Tax, stamp duty implications.
- Legal issues - Look into leases, business structure and if the business or owners have been involved in bankruptcies or lawsuits.
- Inventory- How much inventory is there; is it excessive (which could be a warning sign); is it obsolete?
- Some questions to ask the seller- Will the seller help in the financing? Will the seller sign a non-compete agreement? And is the seller willing to assist you with consulting for a certain period of time.
Carefully check the business for a good business history. What is the business' reputation? How is it perceived by its customers? A caution can be overestimating the goodwill figure and a poor public image inherited from the previous owner.
For more information on purchasing an existing business, visit the Small Business Administration's website.
Before entering into any business venture or signing any contract, it is wise to speak with a business advisor or seek legal advice. When considering any of the above-mentioned ideas, make sure you do your homework and seek professional advice. The Chamber and its partners can help you with this.
For more information or if you have questions, please call the Chamber at 610.376.6766 or send us an email with your specific question to info@GreaterReadingChamber.org.
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