Published on March 14th, 2014 | by USA Today
To aspiring entrepreneurs: 6 weeks can change your life, livelihood
Where will you be six weeks from now?
Believe it or not, you could have your own small business up and running before the end of April.
That’s right. If you’ve ever dreamed of being your own boss, now’s the time to take the chance because the Six-Week Start-Up campaign is about to launch — the first-ever campaign on social media to help would-be entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.
Starting Monday, follow along as I team up with America’s Small Business Development Center Network to bring you some of the tools, information and advice necessary to get you going in the right direction. Anyone who hopes to start, run or grow a business will get daily guidance, downloadable free worksheets, and links to free resources — all through Twitter and Facebook.
“We hope we’ll have helped created hundreds — if not thousands — of new businesses,” said President Charles “Tee” Rowe of America’s Small Business Development Center Network, a partnership among universities, economic development agencies and the U.S. Small Business Administration. “This is an excellent way to reach more small businesses and start-ups.”
The network, which has about 1,000 centers across the USA offering free counseling and low-cost training, always is looking for ways to serve small businesses, both start-ups and existing companies. Participating in a social-media campaign offered the centers an innovative opportunity.
The recently released third edition and inaugural e-book version of my Six-Week Start-Up book inspired the campaign. This edition includes dozens of free resources to help people launch a small business on a shoestring as well as step-by-step start-up guidance.
“The SBDC chose to partner with Rhonda Abrams because this campaign gives us the opportunity to assist entrepreneurs who might never have come through our doors,” said Ann Johnson-Stromberg of the Northern California Small Business Development Center Network and California network. “Six-Week Start-Up is a quality resource that can be followed from your living room or on an iPad, and that convenience is hard to beat.”
Each week during the campaign, we’ll have:
- A theme that focuses on one critical area of business development.
- Dozens of posts on Twitter — #6wkstartup — and Facebook to provide step-by-step guidance, point to resources and answer questions.
- A free, downloadable, interactive worksheet to help you plan your own business.
- Success stories for inspiration from others who already have started their own small businesses.
- A $50 gift card and autographed copy of Six-Week Start-Up for one person who actively participates in the campaign by sharing his or her story, retweeting and sharing Facebook posts.
The theme for Week 1 is Lay the Foundation to help you clarify your business concept, create your company identity and get organized. To get you started, you’ll find the first week’s worksheet, Creating My Company Identity, at the end of this column.
You can find all the worksheets and more information about the campaign at http://planningshop.com/SixWeekStartUp.
We want to help you achieve your dream of owning your own business, just as the Solano County Small Business Development Center helped Jose and Maria Leyva of Elmira, Calif., start their business, Chepo’s Tamales.
“I’d still be working in the field with no future, driving a harvester, driving a tractor,” Jose Leyva said. “If you work 12 hours one day, next day you can work 14, next day 16. … In your own business, if you have a dream and you do the right thing, your dream can be true.”
You don’t need to be a start-up to participate. If you already run a small business, you’ll find lots of tips and resources that can help you grow. And your participation — by sharing your stories and ideas — will enrich the Six-Week Start-Up campaign for novice entrepreneurs.
Social-media management tool HootSuite also a partner. The company donated hundreds of pro versions of HootSuite to local small business development centers, making it possible to organize and manage the entire six weeks of content.
Without HootSuite, local centers with slim resources never would have been able to participate in an ambitious campaign like this.
But you don’t have to do it all through social media — or even online. Local small business development centers also are standing by ready to help, as they are throughout the year. You can find your nearest center at www.asbdc-us.org.
And six weeks from now, you can be your own boss.