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Will Your Business Survive the Ever-Changing Digital Economy?

April 26, 2017

Did you know… in a decade, our U.S. economy has grown barely 2%?

  • 25% of businesses are doing great
  • 50% are doing ok
  • 25% are dying

Take the eBusiness checkup now and find out where  your business/organization fits in this picture.

What do you get if you participate in the eBusiness checkup???

  • Potential revenue surge of 24%
  • Potential cost savings of 7%
  • A better understanding of what you should be doing online to grow your business
  • Specific steps to maximize your online presence
  • How you compare to thousands of other businesses in your industry sector

The eBusiness checkup  is online and takes around 20-30  minutes to complete.  It is arranged in segments to allow you to complete at your convenience.

The checkup is great for all companies–whether you have 1 employee or 1,000 employees and REMEMBER–Your participation can lead to rapid positive returns!

Take the eBusiness checkup now and see what you could be doing online to grow your business!

 

This project is made possible through a partnership among the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, the University of North Alabama, Shoals Chamber of Commerce and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
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The 7 Things Science Says You Must do Daily to Build a Billion-Dollar Company

April 26, 2017

When I started Taco, I knew I wanted to grow it into a billion-dollar company. But realistically, I knew that creating a billion-dollar company meant I had to impact billions of people and not just focus on metrics, like the bottom line.

To build a billion-dollar company, a founder must have a billion-dollar mindset and practice certain daily habits that science has found to be the common denominators among the world’s wealthiest business people. Scientific research has confirmed specific actions are more amenable for generating wealth.

Check out these seven actions you will want to work on — and achieve daily — if you want to hit the billion-dollar mark:

1. Read.

Today’s billionaires have a voracious appetite for reading. They consume many pages and books in a short amount of time. Billionaires like Warren Buffet actually spend the majority of every day reading books, articles and online content to better understand the business environment and the factors that impact investing and strategic decisions.

Reading provides critical knowledge that can help a businessperson move their company to the next level of revenue. It also opens their eyes to new possibilities from patterns they discover that can also benefit their organization in terms of direction and new revenue streams.

Get the rest of the story at Entrepreneur.com

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Compete Against Major Competitors

April 19, 2017

For a small business to strive and win competitors in an industry, use these strategies.

Moving into a new city or job can be daunting, the hassle of finding accommodation, the stress of moving personal items and most especially the people or city accepting someone new might not be pleasing.

The same applies to small businesses that are launching into an industry ridden with bigger competitors. For an SMB, finding a niche can be time-consuming but rewarding on the long-term.

In a recent article published in Entrepreneur.com, the writer shares 4 effective marketing strategies for SMB’s against bigger competitors.

Related: Stand Toe to Toe With Legacy Giants by Investing in a Data Strategy

1. Niche down

Small businesses need to go laser focused on a chosen market segment. I am talking hyper focused, zeroed down to the barest minimum then expand from there as they grow.

To compete and beat bigger rivals in the industry, SMB’s need to focus on their basic consumers. Basic consumers can range from college students to a particular demographic. Recognizing and marketing to the basic consumers allow for quick sales, more revenue for marketing and the ability to grow a following.

A perfect example can be found in Red Bull. Co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz started his little-canned drink with no specific market in mind, and even with no competition in the energy drink industry, sales were slow. Consumers could not decide if Red Bull was a sports stimulant or a soft drink. So, Mateschitz went back to the drawing board and laser-targeted a market segment (students) and marketed to them relentlessly by sponsoring events, throwing campaigns, devotional social media challenges.

By targeting a specific market, Red Bull was able to build a following, sales skyrocketed and growth exploded. Right now, Red Bull can be found in almost every athletic or sports events holding a market share of 50 percent in Canada and 46 percent in the US as at 2011.

Key Takeaway: If you’re starting a business in a market that has established competitors, you need to niche down to strive then win it. Dig deeper and find untapped subcategories in your market, sell to that core customer then expand.

Visit Entrepreneur.com for the rest of the story.

Innovations in ER Physician Staffing

April 18, 2017

Check out Sycamore Physician Contracting (one of the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center’s newest clients) to learn more about innovations in emergency room physician staffing.

 

SycPhysNew

 

 

Florence Culinary Incubator Stirs Entrepreneurship Dreams

February 21, 2017

The Florence-based Shoals Entrepreneurial Center is home to a culinary incubator that offers a fully equipped, FDA-approved commercial kitchen for fledgling startups to rent at reasonable rates.

Beyond that, the center’s staff provides coaching for their culinary clients, with advice on everything from marketing and packaging to volume production and distribution networks.

“We ask them, ‘Who in the grocery store are you going to knock off the shelf?’” said Giles McDaniel, the SEC’s executive director. “We try to encourage them to find a special niche first, and we’ve got local grocers and farmers markets where they can try it out and get their feet wet.

Shoals Innovation Week

February 20, 2017

Shoals Innovation Week is officially underway!  The Shoals Chamber of Commerce’ Youth Leadership group provides feedback today  to one of the Shoals Alabama Launchpad finalist, Sycamore Physician Contracting, as they prepare for the finals.  Sycamore Physician Contracting is one of 5 finalist competing for a piece of $100,000 tomorrow, Tuesday, February 21st at 4 p.m. at Gas Design Center in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

Good Luck to All the Finalists—Alchemy Jewelry Spray, Luxe BrandnSideSouthern Swaddle , and Sycamore Physician Contracting!!!!!

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SHOALS INNOVATION WEEK BREAKFAST KICKOFF EVENT

February 16, 2017

SHOALS CHAMBER INNOVATION OVER EASY

INNOVATION WEEK BREAKFAST KICKOFF EVENT AT THE SHOALS ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

See what is new at the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center and how you might use our resources to better your company or learn more to help your clients.  This free breakfast event is open to all business principals, chamber members, and interested community members.

The Jobs Will Change and So Will We

February 13, 2017

Published on February 12, 2017 | Featured in Economy, Technology, Your Career

Dean Barber: President/CEO at Barber Business Advisors, LLC: The Place ProfilersFeatured in: Economy, Technology, Your Career

In this blog and in my talks around the country, I frequently harp on my belief that we are only in the early stages of a new digital machine age that will transform our lives and our entire notion of work.

To communities, to which I provide economic development consulting, I would advise that you embrace and, indeed, become the future. It is the safest bet to relevancy.

To companies, to which I provide site selection/location analysis consulting, I would advise that you look to those communities that are becoming the future. They are the safest bets from which to operate.

And what is this future? To some degree, it is already here — robots and computers performing a range of routine physical work activities better and more cheaply than humans.

But it will not stop there. The machines will become increasingly capable of accomplishing activities once considered too difficult to automate, such as making tacit judgments, sensing emotion, or even driving.

In short, this new digital machine age of robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will change the daily lives of everyone.

Already Here

We know it to be big because it already has been. Automation has enabled manufacturers to make more than ever before, at a much lower cost. U.S. factories now manufacture twice as much as they did in 1984, with one-third fewer workers, according to the Federal Reserve.

I was somewhat amused this past week when I read a professor’s remarks on LinkedIn, apparently lamenting that automation was being employed by companies to “save a few dollars.”

No doubt, the concept of efficiently competing in a world marketplace escapes him. A human welder may earn $25 an hour, a robot welder costs around $8 an hour over a five-year period, according to estimates from the Boston Consulting Group. BCG says the cost could fall to $2 an hour in the next 15 years.

Does that make it morally wrong for a company to use welding robots? Apparently so, according to this professor, who believes it is a primary duty for industry to employ as many people as it can. But that is not reality.

Fewer Jobs Required

The decades-long decline of U.S. manufacturing employment (plunging from 18.9 million jobs in 1980 to 12.3 million today) and the highly automated nature of the manufacturing sector would indicate that the “job intensity” of U.S. manufacturing will continue to decline over the long term as digital technologies advance.

“In 1980 it took 25 jobs to generate $1 million in manufacturing output in the U.S. Today it takes five jobs,” wrote Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Automation improves productivity, reduces errors, and improves quality and speed, all of which is very good if you own the factory. If you are a worker in that plant, well, your job could be at risk.

Visit Linkedin.com for the more on this story.

Shoals Innovation Week Schedule of Events

February 9, 2017

JOIN US FOR THIS INAUGURAL EVENT

SHOALS INNOVATION WEEK

FEBRUARY 2017

TUESDAY 21st

7:00—8:30 AM

SHOALS CHAMBER INNOVATION OVER EASY SHOALS ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER

See what is new at the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center and how you might use their re- sources to better your company or learn more to help your clients. The free breakfast event is open to all business principals, chamber members and interested community members.

4:00—8:00 PM

SHOALS ALABAMA LAUNCHPAD FINALE GAS STUDIOS | 109 W. 6th | TUSCUMBIA

Watch as Shoals Alabama Launchpad participants pitch in front of judges & an audience for a share of $100,000. Anyone interested in being a part of the entrepreneurship community is invited to this free event.

WEDNESDAY 22nd

11:30—1:30 PM

GROW YOUR BUSINESS PANEL DISCUSSION UNA COMMUNITY ED / EAST CAMPUS

Join a discussion with panelists Giles McDaniel, SEC; Carolyn Long, SBDC; Caitlin Holland, SCC; Doug Barrett, UNA Institute; Moderated by Mary Marshall VanSant, UNA CE. Each panelist has up to 7 minutes to introduce them- selves. Then a moderated discussion with the attendees to dig deeper into how to work together to accelerate success for their clients and the entrepreneurs. lunch is available by reservation at contact information below.

$15 per person. Call 256-765-4107 or email innovation@una.edu for lunch reservations.

6:00 PM

NEXTGEN SHOALS INNOVATION AWARDS FLOBAMA | 311 N. COURT STREET

Be a part of a fast-paced fun evening that recognizes and rewards startups that inspires us to be at the leading edge of tech communities. Led by the Chamber’s Next Gen group, this premier event is certain to be an annual must go. The tech community, chamber members, and interested community members are invited to attend.

THURSDAY 23rd

4:00—5:30 PM

VIDEO GAMING FOR LEO CON

FLORENCE LAUDERDALE PUBLIC LIBRARY

Attend a free gaming demo at a Business Afterhours precursor that includes UNA and Teen Club members competing in selected video games promoting the upcoming May Leo Con. Open to students, parents,

players and the public.

5:30—7:00 PM

CHAMBER BUSINESS AFTERHOURS FLORENCE LAUDERDALE PUBLIC LIBRARY

This after-hours highlights the ways the community is able to use the Collaboratory and get acquainted with the staff who are there to assist. Chamber members are encouraged to attend this free event.

FRIDAY 24th

11:30—1:00

BIZ BUZZ: SINGLE LOCK RECORDS FLORENCE LAUDERDALE PUBLIC LIBRARY

Hear the story of Single Lock Records at Biz Buzz, sponsored by the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, UNA College of Business, and the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center. Biz Buzz is free and open to the public.

 

INFO: INNOVATION@UNA.EDU

256-765-4107

SMART START WEEKEND 24-26

SMART START WEEKEND: 3RD FLOOR OF THE UNA COMMONS: Friday night kicks off Smart Start Weekend, A three-day event for students to ex-change business start up ideas, focusing on 4-6 ideas that cover the course of the weekend to develop a company. This year’s program uses a new format based on the very successful Innovation Engineering tool set. Students will come away with a clear path towards building a company and then present their ideas to a panel of local investors. The public is invited to be part of the finale starting AT 5:00 PM on Sunday, January 26.

 

PARTIALLY FUNDED BY A GRANT FROM THE APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION

A SHOALS SHIFT MOVEMENT

Shoals Entrepreneurial Center Announces Partnership with Strategic Networks Group

January 30, 2017

For Immediate Release: Contact:

Giles McDaniel

Shoals Entrepreneurial Center

(256) 760-9014

Contact: Michael Curri

Strategic Networks Group

(202) 558-2128

SHOALS ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH STRATEGIC NETWORKS GROUP TO CREATE JOBS AND GROW BUSINESSES THROUGH DIGITAL ECONOMY PROGRAMS

Today, the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center in Florence, Alabama announced that Shoals Shift (a grant project funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission) will include business assistance and workforce development programs developed by Strategic Networks Group (SNG). SNG is an economic development partner that specializes in accelerating the understanding and meaningful use of broadband applications. This programming drives numerous economic advancements including increasing local business competitiveness, job creation, and new economic opportunities. Working together, the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center and SNG will gather the necessary intelligence to turn broadband potential into local business growth – measurable in jobs, business retention and expansion, and increased tax base brought to the region.

Focused on economic advancement through broadband utilization, SNG is a group of economists who develop strategies for most effectively leveraging broadband investments. SNG addresses broadband utilization from the individual organization level all the way up to working with more than ten states across the United States. SNG looks to help make the most broad-reaching and transformational impacts that broadband can bring to enable businesses, communities, and regions by delivering the data and analysis decision makers need to maximize broadband’s potential.   SNG’s charter in the region is to help businesses embrace and better use the internet and its applications to compete and grow (learn more about SNG at www.sngroup.com).

Shoals Shift, a partnership of the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, the University of North Alabama, and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, will utilize SNG’s comprehensive and industry-leading eSolutions Benchmarking to help develop digital strategies for the region. Also included in this partnership will be the Small Business Growth Program, a unique approach to show businesses the quantifiable economic impacts that inspire greater utilization of Internet applications.

Central to this exciting initiative will be inviting businesses across nine counties to share their needs and uses of the Internet and applications for developing plans and programs to help businesses grow through technology.

Businesses across the counties of Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Marion, Walker, and Winston in Alabama, as well as Alcorn and Tishomingo in Mississippi, and Lawrence in Tennessee, will be invited to participate in an online analysis that evaluates their needs and issues related to adopting Internet applications.

Giles McDaniel, Executive Director of the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, explained that the SNG component of Shoals Shift will help accelerate the growth of a digital economy, “We encourage as many businesses as possible to share their needs and experiences through our online analysis to ensure that they have the tools to succeed. Business/organization participation is critical so that we can benchmark how we are doing across our region to effectively move forward in today’s digital economy.”

SNG’s Small Business Growth Program, supported by Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, the University of North Alabama, and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce is uniquely suited to assist businesses in taking practical actions to benefit from today’s technologies by providing personalized evaluations, Internet use scorecards, and paths relevant to each business to improve their sales, marketing, and operations performance via online applications and opportunities.

“SNG’s programs are specifically designed to help businesses grow and create job opportunities,” explains Michael Curri, president of SNG. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide the tools to help expand the region’s economic base. Watch for more details once the online analysis is available.”