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Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI)

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 Ryan Moyes

Friday, Feb. 28, 2014

What defines a small business? Is it the products/services they sell? The people who work there? The advertisements? The operations? The look or feel of the building? Maybe even the creative logo? These were all questions our NPI class asked 3 weeks ago just before we selected our businesses. Our challenge at this point was to develop a method of initially assessing our businesses and to eventually create a business plan that reflected their future growth. This exercise pushed all of us to draw upon our academic knowledge/major expertise so we could construct a useful assessment checklist and business plan guide for our businesses.

After arriving at our business sites, observing the business, getting to know Yacanex, and meeting the owner, we all agreed that each team should start by asking, “Where is the business now? Why did the owner(s) apply for the Wells Fargo competition? What do they think will improve their business? What, exactly, are they looking to do? Who runs the business – is it family owned?” Once this information was gathered, we decided that it would then be prudent to learn about the history of the company and make a quick SWOT analysis (assessing the strengths and weaknesses within the company and the opportunities and threats in the outside industry). This, we believed, would give us insight on where the business stands both independently and relative to its competitors.

For example, when my team asked our small business owner, Carmena, about the history of her business (Emit Mini Mart), my team learned that the store has only been open for 6 months and that the building space was previously occupied by a general store selling Asian products. So, when thinking about our SWOT analysis, we discovered that Emit is in a great location for attracting customers next door in the Laundromat (strength), sells inventory left over by the previous owner that don’t relate to Emit’s main products (weakness), could potentially sell more fresh meals to customers who are passing through in a hurry (opportunity), and there are many mini markets (including Yolanda’s) in the nearby area (threats/competition). This gave us a firm grasp of where our business stands.

Once we came up with this basic assessment strategy, our class started specifying other essential information and business plan segments. Topics such as supply chains, online presence, seasonality of businesses, monthly budgets, energy audits, and in-store inventory arrangements came up. In terms of designing our business plans, the categories of finance, operations, and marketing were especially highlighted. Plus, thanks to Kat Usavage, our sole marketing expert, we also learned some clever marketing abbreviations, like the 3 C’s (customers, competition, and company), the 4 P’s (product, price, promotions, and place/presentation), and the 5 M’s (minutes, (wo)men, money, machinery, and materials). By the end of the meeting, we all had a good idea of how to first approach our businesses in the coming weeks. And as you can see from the previous posts written by my peers, our first contact with the Wells Fargo participants did, indeed, go well.

 
 
 
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