Missing a piece of the puzzle to growing your business?

Got a small business in Upper Bucks County?  Looking for that edge? Micro-loans can help.

For a small business or sole proprietor just starting out, Micro-loans provide a financial leg up.

Micro-loans, available through The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, provide a way for start-up businesses, small business expansion or other types of small business enterprises to obtain needed capital to grow and prosper.

The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund is a non-profit federally certified Community Development Financial Institute, which provides business funding for a variety of uses.

The Rising Tide has historically arranged $4.3 million of capital to 136 different businesses in Lehigh and Northampton counties and recently added Monroe, Carbon and Upper Bucks counties to its service area, according to Chris Hudock, director of The Rising Tide. Since December 2015, about $1.5 million has already been loaned to 52 different businesses, Hudock said.

From resource acquisition, to improvements in leased spaces, equipment purchases, marketing, working capital, stocking inventory and real estate acquisition, a Micro-loan could be the right fit when a traditional loan isn’t an option.

Up to $35,000 of vital funding per business is available through the Micro-loan program, Robert Mineo said. Mineo is financing assistance program director for the Small business Development Center based at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. Mineo specializes in helping business owners and operators understand their financial options, along with assisting them in creating presentation pitches they can make to investors and lenders.

At a recent presentation and panel discussion hosted by UBCC in Quakertown, participants learned about the benefits of Micro-loan programs, and made important staff contacts with those who can help facilitate the process.

“Having a microloan program in the community is just another way to assist our small businesses, that don’t qualify for traditional financing, access to the capital needed to grow,” said Tara King, Executive Director of Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce.

“Whether that reason is due to having a less than perfect credit rating, not having the right collateral, lack of credit history – all the things that a bank looks at when qualifying an applicant – to still be able to access capital at a rate less than using a credit card,” King explained.

“It can mean the difference between watching a business crash and burn because they couldn’t access the capital needed and watching a business root in a community and thrive,” King said.

Mineo said The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, which was recently extended to cover Upper Bucks met a need. “There was not a program like this that covered Upper Bucks before,” Mineo said.

“Upper Bucks is an opportunity for growth,” Hudock said.

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Member Spotlight-Avery Dennison

Avery Dennison makes products that stick.

The Fortune 500 company, based in Upper Bucks County, Avery Dennison leaders recognize finding creative solutions to business problems is key to the firm’s longevity and enduring success in the self-adhesive products industry.

“We are a world leader in pressure sensitive adhesive technology,” Hochmiller said.

Finding business application solutions and being smart about their implementation are critical to the company’s approach to business, said Matthew Hochmiller, Avery Dennison Quakertown plant manager.

As one of the two top label makers in the United States, Avery Dennison continues a mission of “making every brand more inspiring and the world more intelligent,” Hochmiller said.

Originally founded in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1935 by Ray Stanton Avery as Kum Kleen Adhesive Products Company, Avery Dennison was born in 1990 after a merger with the Dennison Manufacturing Company.

Avery Dennison opened the Quakertown plant in 1971, on 17-acres in Upper Bucks County.

Avery Dennison serves the industry adhesive label needs for advertising and promotion, apparel, electronics and electrical, government, health care and medical along with the consumer goods markets, among others. The firm operates in 50 countries worldwide and employs roughly 25,000 people.

A valued employer in Upper Bucks, the Quakertown plant, located at 35 Penn Am Drive, operates three shifts, five days a week with about 130 full time employees, Hochmiller said.

Hochmiller said the firm excels in innovative thinking, which he credits to the company’s origins.

Chamber membership helps Avery Dennison fulfill its commitment to local engagement as well as connect with other manufacturing and business leaders.

Avery Dennison takes a local stand by respecting its position in the community, and taking its business neighbors seriously.

“Exploring what other companies and plants are doing and networking with them helps us to innovate,” Hochmiller said. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

What’s Your Plan?

From the just-right business entity to setting up a home office, local zoning ordinance references and lease agreements with commercial landlords, about two dozen entrepreneurs learned how to optimize their ideas at a recent Small Business Development Center workshop

How to create a business plan was hosted by Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce and lead by Robert Mineo, financing assistance program director for the Small Business Development Center based on the campus of Lehigh University on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Mineo walked participants through the nuts and bolts of creating a business plan, along with the need for a purpose driven document.

“It shouldn’t be more than 8 to 10 pages long, tops,” Mineo said.

Mineo offered tips for home-based businesses, such as seeking out information on local ordinance compliances and permits, and offered guidance on creating a business plan with punch.

“Start with the strongest section first,” Mineo said.

For those just starting a new business, the business plan might lead with education, background and industry or related accomplishments.

Looking for financing? Think ABC’s “Shark Tank” by building a strong case for why you, and your idea, are an exceptional risk for a bank or investor to take on.

Mineo said a good business plan includes an executive summary, which briefly summarizes the point of the document.

Use strong, clear language, and directly state what the purpose of the document is.

A strong business plan – again 8 to 10 pages long – should include:

*A description of the business proposed.
*Products or services offered.
*The market you’ll serve.
*Location where the business will be based.
*A competitive analysis.
*Management and personnel identified.
*Sources of income and current applications for financing.
*Final summary.

For more information about how to create a business plan, or for small business support, visit the Small Business Development Center website at www.lehigh.edu or the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce website at www.ubcc.org.

Starting a new business? You really need to have a plan.

Do you have a plan?

If you do, congrats! You’re ahead of many of your colleagues who don’t.

If you don’t….

While success may be found by taking a stab in the dark, it’s more often than not a careful and calculated goal.

That means lots of hard work, perseverance, thoughtful consideration, goal setting, assessments and the occasional tweak along the way.

For small businesses in particular, having a business plan can mean the difference between weathering that all important first year, and remaining vibrant well into a second, third or fifth decade of operation, and going belly up.

Any one thinking about starting their own business can take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of professionals from Lehigh University’s Small Business Development Center during a free seminar titled, “Develop Your Business Plan!” from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12, inside the newly renovated chamber offices. In this workshop, attendees will outline their business plan using the Lehigh University SBDC’s Business Planning Workbook. Bring a pen/pencil and expect to write! This workshop is designed to get your plan on paper and to understand what lenders are looking for. Those who have already started a business plan can benefit from advice, tips, and a discussion of common mistakes.

The Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce is located at 21 N. Main St., Quakertown.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has at its mission to help new start ups begin business, and to nurture and sustain them on the road to success, the organization’s website said.

Ongoing consulting and educational opportunities are available through SBDC, the website said.

While the chamber sponsored seminar is free, registration is required.

To register online visit the Small Business Development Center’s website here.