ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Not knowing how to start a small business can be stressful to local entrepreneurs, but some have found help through Rockford’s free BUSINESSFirst program.
Melody Layng is the owner of Petals and Pickins, at 4616 E State Street, and she says business is going well.
“We just celebrated our fifth year,” she said. “I’ve been in the floral industry for a long time, but [have operated] my own shop here five years.”
Layng is just one of BUSINESSFirst’s success stories.
Craig Sockwell, Business Manager at Rockford Transport, says taking the class helps bridge the gap for people who don’t understand every aspect of starting a company.
“Because, if you don’t know, you don’t know. So, to be able to work out all the ins and outs, and understanding it, makes you understand your business and you understand your business plan, and it all matches up,” he said.
Layng said, “I went down to the Small Business Development Center and I had a great plan, and they looked through it and he handed it back to me and he just said, ‘well, where’s the numbers?’ You know, ‘where’s your numbers?’ Well, I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do. I just had this great idea.”
The class is held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Regional Center for Planning & Design, at 315 N. Main.
Hopeful entrepreneurs can get a chance to sit down with city leaders, from zoning to the health department, to review their business plan, allowing them to capitalize on their strengths and reinforce their weaknesses.
“It’s really about making sure a person’s vision is clear and in a plan, and they can walk that plan to success,” said Matt Simpson, Rockford’s Economic Development and Diversity Procurement Coordinator.
The classes are free, and people can attend as many as they’d like.
“It’s all about connections, you know, networks and knowledge, and trying to be a community that really stands up to say, ‘we’re here for you,'” Simpson said.