KNIGHTDALE — Sandy Purcell started her nonprofit in Miami, Fla. and had no intention of expanding to Knightdale.
Her hands were full, she said, but at the insistence of her hairstylist, Purcell began working to launch a branch of her nonprofit benefitting women in December 2012.
Even though Purcell currently runs her nonprofit, she needed some help with fine-tuning a business plan, understanding different financing options and seeing how best to market her organization.
She was referred to the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Summit, held last week with a panel of chamber members who were picked as experts in their fields to present information for small and local businesses.
Mary Yount, the Chamber’s executive director, said the Small Business Summit is not a new event, but it’s the first time the Chamber has organized it to focus on key topics small business owners were looking for.
This time, the event was geared toward beginning and start-up business ventures.
It featured presentations about alternative funding options, insurance options for businesses and how to get licensed with the town.
“Businesses have a hard time in start-up mode,” Yount said. “I want businesses to understand, especially if they’re in start-up modes, that there’s other financial options.”
Often, Yount said, traditional banks won’t give out business loans unless it’s for about $300,000 or more. Small businesses don’t always need that much money which can make it difficult for a business to find start-up capital, she said.
The summit featured Ed Timerlake of The Support Center, a nonprofit organization that funds start-up and existing businesses. The summit also included a presentation about SCORE, a regional organization that provides business information and mentorship. Yount said the Chamber often uses SCORE as a resource and wanted to introduce it to business owners.
Not just money matters
In addition to financial support, the summit gave Knightdale’s business owners practical advice.
Purcell said she received advice on how to market her nonprofit and the best way to revise her business plan.
“It was a lot of new information,” she said. “I come from the old school.”
Panelists advised Purcell to have a concise business plan, how to use SCORE and how to get help presenting her nonprofit’s product – a complicated topic since her organization does not always deal with material products.
Even though Purcell has branches established in other states, she just finalized a board of directors. The nonprofit, currently unnamed, will help women and Purcell said she has plans for a project to help rural, low-income students prepare for school.
Supporting new mission
The summit supports the Chamber’s revised mission statement, which focuses on responding to members’ needs and becoming and providing resources to businesses.
The new emphasis will translate into more opportunities to listen to business owners and new events that will give business owners what they ask for, not what the chamber assumes they need, Yount said.
After interviewing and gathering opinions from 159 businesses, Yount said the chamber revised its mission statement to better reflect what business owners said they wanted and felt like they needed.
Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews