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New Research: Maine SBDC Clients Are More Likely to Succeed

Maine SBDC recently conducted an internal study to analyze the survivability of businesses that started with the assistance of an SBDC business advisor. The study included clients who started their businesses in 2016 and assessed whether these businesses were still in operation after three years.

graphic with still open sign and text "a recent study found that more than 72% of Maine SBDC client businesses were still in operation after three years, higher than national averages"The study found that more than 72% of Maine SBDC client businesses were still in operation after three years. This is higher than the national average of 61.3% from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.Read More

Contractor or Employee?

Is your worker a contractor or employee?

By: Diana Grandoni, Maine SBDC Graduate Assistant

 

The important differences between these two roles might surprise you.

Specific standards determine if your worker is legally an independent contractor or an employee of your business, and it’s up to the business owner to make sure these relationships are classified correctly.Read More

Hiring & Managing Your First Employees

Hiring and Managing Your First Employees

By: Diana Grandoni, Maine SBDC Graduate Assistant

Making the first new additions to your team is an exciting milestone and a sign that your hard work is paying off! For many small business owners, hiring can also be overwhelming and stressful.

business owner talking to employees

These four tips will help you make the most out of this important process:

1. Identify the role you need to fill.

What made you decide you need to hire a new employee? Outline the specific tasks and responsibilities you need support for and what aspects of the business you envision this person taking on in the future. Develop a clear picture of what skills this person should have to be a good addition to your team. Use this to create a job description which you can share in the job posting and with candidates in interviews. Refer to your budget to determine the pay including the cost of benefits. Offering a competitive wage can make you stand out among job seekers and could land you a more motivated applicant, but payroll shouldn’t be so costly that it leads to financial problems. In other words, don’t pay more than what the job is worth to you

2. Find the right person for the job.

Finding the right candidate is critical for minimizing turnover. Develop a comprehensive job description, post it online, and share it with your connections. Vet your applicants carefully and schedule interviews to further screen candidates. In addition to ensuring they have the required professional skills for the job, it is equally important that their personality is a good cultural fit. Especially on a small team, every employee has a distinct and formidable impact on the culture of the business.

3. Onboarding is your first impression.

The onboarding process is the foundation of your relationship with your new employee, and you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Put thought into how you want this person to understand their role and the culture of the workplace. Relay your expectations from the beginning. Provide an updated employee handbook that clearly states your company policies. Show your new team members that they made the right choice to accept the position by making them feel welcome.

employees having fun at work4. Keeping Good Employees

There are ways to retain good employees beyond salary that offer a worthwhile return on investment. Whenever possible, provide professional development opportunities and mentorship for your team members. Including health care benefits, vacation, and sick time if possible make the job more appealing and show your employee that you value them, which makes them much more likely to stay. Create a fair and transparent evaluation system to set goals, assess employee growth, and recognize achievements. Offering positive feedback when warranted never hurts! The best workers want to be challenged and feel that they are developing professional skills.

Strategic management of your human resources as your most important asset will put you on a path for long term success. For individualized guidance on how to sustainably grow your business and manage your team, contact the Maine SBDC to schedule a free meeting with a business advisor.

 

Maine SBDC’s Business Plan Guide

Writing a business plan is an important step in starting or expanding any business. A business plan provides an essential roadmap for your business that outlines goals and provides details on how you plan to achieve these goals. It is also a great tool in communicating your business’ potential to investors and financial institutions.

We’ve developed a step by step guide to help you write your business plan. 

Maine SBDC’s Peter Harriman walks you through each section of a business plan. He highlights the important parts and provides helpful tips & tricks.

Access the Writing a Business Plan Guide:

VIEW IN FLIPBOOK

DOWNLOAD GUIDE

 

This tool is best used in conjunction with a Maine SBDC business advisor or other professional. The Maine SBDC has been providing free business advising to Maine’s small businesses and entrepreneurs since 1977.  We have experienced, knowledgeable, certified business advisors who can help businesses at all stages to provide confidential, individualized business development assistance – at no cost. Our centers are located around the state.  Call us at 800-679-7232  or visit our website to find out how we can help you.

True North Beauty – Milo, Maine

True North Beauty LogoHeather Lux was disappointed with the skincare products on the market. She wanted a natural, effective, and luxurious product that would help her skin look its best. This is why she created True North Beauty.

True North Beauty is a blossoming skincare and lifestyle brand that utilizes the unique benefits of Chaga, a wild Maine mushroom. Chaga grows on birch trees in cold weather climates and is especially prominent in Northern New England. It is known for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties and is dense in anti-oxidants. True North utilizes a patent-pending process to extract these diverse properties to create a Chaga Infused Formula™. The formula reduces acne and redness, helps with fine lines, boosts elasticity and collagen, and helps repair sun damage.Read More

Bub ‘n Muthas – Winter Harbor, Maine

Family of John Fuhrman, Owner of Bub N' MuthasEver since he can remember, John Fuhrman’s “mutha” had a real knack for cooking. In DownEast Maine, her kitchen skills were almost legendary. One day, after tinkering around with spices in the kitchen, “mutha” developed a special blend of spices that needed to be shared. The blend combined a Maine attitude with local ingredients such as organic blueberry powder, maple crystals, and even Raye’s Mustard (the oldest mustard company in America made right here in Maine).

Several bottles of rub on a treeThis is how John’s company Bub ‘n Muthas was started and their first product DownEast Dinnah (pronounced dinn-uh) Dust was created. The company later their Honey n’ HEAT flavor which added other varieties with honey crystals and chipotle to the mustard and blueberry. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, John loves every minute of creating, mixing, bottling and sharing his family’s classic Maine gourmet dry rubs.

He is working with Shannon Byers, Business Advisor at Maine SBDC at CEI, to expand his business. They have worked on his business plan and discussed ways to grow his web sales and retail locations.  Bub ‘n Muthas are looking to grow so he can hire other talented Veterans from the area so they can earn a quality living, get training and keep their families in Maine. For every 10,000 bottles they sell, they plan to offer an area veteran a job. More info on this initiative here.

Collage with rubs and food made with themJohn adds: “If you’d like a real taste of Maine, give us a try and I promise not to disappoint you.” 

 

Business Advisor: Shannon Byers 

​For more information on this growing Maine business, visit their website or follow them on FACEBOOK and TWITTER!

Science Dogs of New England – Ellsworth, Maine

Science of Dogs of New England - Logo Lindsay Ware has a passion for wildlife and conservation. That is why she started Science Dogs of New England. This new business creates opportunities and solutions for conservation and environmental research in New England using highly trained dogs for efficient, low-impact data collection and conservation processes.

Lindsay Ware and DogLindsay worked with Shannon Byers, a business advisor at the Maine SBDC hosted by CEI, to help her think through her idea, understand her market and work through the steps of starting a business. They discussed her branding and marketing message including logo design, website, and attire.  They also worked together to review her processes and operations.

Lindsay Ware and Dog workingDog detecting, Science Dogs of New EnglandScience Dogs of New England officially launched in 2019. They supply scent detection teams to conservation and research organizations such as government agencies, private organizations, and educational institutions. Each highly-trained dog is accompanied by a handler that is not only skilled in working with their canine partner but is also an experienced field biologist.

Dog from Science Dogs of New EnglandTheir dogs are trained in scent detection and physically primed for fieldwork. Their science dogs are prepared to tract and detect live animals, animal scat, egg masses, plants, and more. Conservation detection dogs have been repeatedly shown to increase sample size, cover large study areas more efficiently, find small targets, and have a low ecological impact on study areas.

Business Advisor: Shannon Byers 

For more information on this growing Maine business, visit their WEBSITE or follow them on Facebook.

Grasshopper Academy – Houlton, Maine

Business owner Lacey Clark, Grasshopper AcademyLacey Clark had been a co-owner of a successful daycare in Houlton, Maine for a number of years. From her experience, she understood that childcare in Aroostook County is extremely limited with most providers at 100% capacity. When she saw that another existing daycare across town was going to be closing its doors, she understood what this would mean for families and the community.

Happy baby, Grasshopper AcademyLacey made the decision to leave her business partnership and go out solely on her own. She wanted to purchase this existing daycare and keep the doors open. She turned to Josh Nadeau, Maine SBDC business advisor located at Northern Maine Development Commission. Josh helped her craft a business plan and accompanying financial projections. With seller financing and some owner investment, she was able to purchase the Grasshopper Academy. Located on Hillview Ave in Houlton, Grasshopper Academy provides childcare for children ages 6weeks to 12 years of age.

Children built a tower, Grasshopper AcademyA few months later, Lacey reached back out to Josh. She wanted to purchase the building where the daycare was currently operating. Josh helped her through the negotiation process with her landlord.  He again helped her to refine her business plan and create a set of financial projections in order to obtain a loan.

In September 2019, Lacey purchased the building. Since purchasing the business, Lacey has been able to expand and hire two employees and enroll more children into her center.

Child reading, Grasshopper AcademyLacy comments, “I can’t thank Josh enough for all his help. He has a great personality and goes above and beyond that extra step to help with whatever is needed.  While I was still working and trying to purchase a building, Josh and staff would drive to me to get documents and truly made this as easy and non-stressful as this could be. Thank you NMDC for making my dream come true!”

Business Advisor: Josh Nadeau 

Six Last-Minute Ideas for Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday helps promote Maine communities and the businesses that make them special. It’s a great day to highlight your business and show how much you appreciate your customers. It provides a unique opportunity for small businesses throughout Maine to increase holiday sales. Use Small Business Saturday to generate sales, foot traffic and visibility for your small business. 

Here are some last-minute ideas to help make it successful:

1. Get the official materials

Make sure you list your business on the official Small Business Saturday website. Get the official materials and display them proudly. Make sure that it is obvious that your business is open and welcoming for potential customers.

2. Create a special offer:

Provide a discount or a gift with sales that will encourage shoppers to stop in and purchase.

3. Focus on digital outreach:

Social media is a great way to communicate your plans for Small Business Saturday. Use your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to let your followers know that you are participating, will be open and excited about this day focused on community. Don’t forget to use the hashtag: #shopsmall

Don’t forget your email list: Send an email update to your customer list to keep them in the loop!

4. Provide a unique in-store experience:

Provide tired shoppers with treats – coffee or snacks go a long way. Have a fishbowl giveaway. Offer gift-wrapping. Provide something special for shoppers to create a memorable experience. Small Business Saturday is a unique opportunity to provide top-notch customer service and create loyal, repeat customers.

5. Coordinate with other local businesses:

Reach out to your neighboring businesses to create a unique offer or incentive to encourage foot traffic or purchase. You could team up with a local restaurant or café, or give your neighbor’s customers a special incentive to stop in. Get creative!

6. Don’t forget your regulars:

Your regular customers are a valuable asset for your business. Make sure they know that you are participating in Small Business Saturday. Let them know what exciting items and offers you will be featuring. To entice them to come back in, offer them a special deal just for them as a thank you. Let them know you appreciate their business.  

Use the momentum of Small Business Saturday to generate new customers for your business. If done well, these customers could keep coming back! Feel free to reach out to your Maine SBDC business advisor who would be happy to help brainstorm creative ideas to get the most out of this community-focused day.

 

Freckle Salvage Company – Winthrop, Maine

Nicole Stanford is the owner of Freckle Salvage Company, a business located in the Western Maine foothills that features unique vintage mixed with new home goods. Alongside her husband and son, she had been selling her products successfully online and at markets and decided it was time to expand her business. Her goal was to leave her full-time job and open a retail location in Winthrop, Maine.

Freckle Salvage Company, ExteriorNicole and Husband, Freckle Salvage CompanyTo understand her next steps, Nicole reached out to Raynor Large, business advisor at the Maine SBDC at AVCOG. Raynor helped Nicole understand the steps to starting this new venture. He provided information on the different business entities and insurance options. The pair also worked to get a better understanding of the business’ finances. They were able to build out a set of financial projections that helped her understand how much she would need to sell in order to stay profitable and continue moving forward.

Freckle Salvage Company, InteriorFreckle Salvage Company opened its doors in August 2019. Located at 129 Main Street in Winthrop, the business has received rave reviews. Reviewers comment on the amazing products (“treasures”), the affordable pricing and the friendliness of Nicole and her family with phrases like “Incredible shop & lovely owner”, “This is what the downtown needs!”, and “Awesome store with awesome finds!”

Nicole continues to work with Raynor to control costs, discuss new opportunities for growth and work on marketing strategy.

Business Advisor: Raynor Large 

For more information about this new Maine business, follow them on Instagram or Facebook.