The City of Milwaukee designated the week of May 20 as Small Business Week. The purpose of the designation was to celebrate the impact that small businesses make to the city and to the entire region. Staff from the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber attended the main event of the week, a Small Business Conference on May 21 hosted by the Office of Small Business Development at the Manpower headquarters in Milwaukee.
The Small Business Conference focused on providing businesses in the area advice on how to be successful and grow. In addition to three breakout sessions, the conference was keynoted by Lincoln Fowler, one of the founders of Alterra Coffee.
The first session Chamber staffed attended was titled “ How to Start a Small Business and Succeed.” During this session, Cynthia Wollersheim of WWBIC stressed the importance of having a business plan. If the creation of a business plan seems daunting, templates and other materials are available online here.
The second session was “Taking Over the World: One Social Media Platform at a Time.” In an age where social media and the internet are so influential and dominant, it is important for a business to utilize all available forms of social media. In 2011, a consumer used 10.4 sources on average before purchasing a product or supporting a business. These sources can be anything from an online review, a Facebook or Twitter page, blogs, or search engines, among other sources.
When creating a social media plan for business, Brandon Lewin of Image Perspective said it is important to establish a strategy. This includes setting goals, understanding the audience, selecting appropriate channels, creating an action plan, and then making sure to track your outlets. He explained that pictures and videos can create a greater reach than just posting words. Finally, as social media becomes a more integral part of the business process, Lewin encouraged businesses to spend the most time and effort on the platforms that generate the most traffic and interaction.
The final session for the day was “The Smart Guide to Streamlining the Business Process and Growth through Technology.” One of the main points the presenter brought up during this session was to make decisions that benefit a business most efficiently. For example, when choosing software and hardware, make sure they complement each other and make the process easier. It was also suggested that businesses wait six months after an operating system or software has been released in order to avoid potential bugs and problems.
The packed conference was a great way for the LGBT Chamber to learn from experts and report back to our members on techniques and tips to grow their business.
In addition to the City of Milwaukee’s celebration of small businesses, we are excited to help celebrate National Small Business Week during the week of June 17. The US Small Business Administration will be traveling around the country and holding events that will be telecast, including seminars, speakers, and other events to help small businesses grow. In addition, every day that week at 4:00 p.m., there will be a Google+ hangout. Each hangout will provide a seminar that can help enhance small business. More details regarding these hangouts will follow. Please check back soon for more information.