Category Archives: News

Washington State Biz Fair — October 12

It’s a free, virtual event!
Tuesday, October 12, 7am to 5pm

The 25th annual virtual Biz Fair is free to attend and the goal is to help current and aspiring small business owners learn from experts on how to start or grow their business.

Gain access to valuable small business resources by visiting the Small Business Resource Center staffed by representatives from federal, state and local government agencies, and business and trade associations.

More more information, please visit the BizFair website.

Ask SCORE: How can you make writing a business plan less intimidating? 

by Ken Sethney, Kitsap SCORE 

Writing a business plan is one of the important steps an entrepreneur needs to take before launching a new business. There is no shortage of people who feel that writing a business plan is an intimidating task. However, many business owners are likely to agree that their plan played a major role in their ability to launch and grow a profitable business.

A business plan isn’t about the document itself, it’s about the discovery process you use to create it. 

Business plans can be tackled in a number of different ways, but all should go after the same result – to clearly demonstrate the viability of your business to generate revenue and turn a profit. Your plan needs to state the business case for the business itself, discuss marketplace, financials, SWOT analysis, and much more. It’s a lot to think about. 

Too often owners decide to jump right in rather than take the time to properly plan. The benefits of planning – and the investment in the time it takes to write the plan – are invaluable in the end. Thinking through your start-up costs and revenue projections ahead of time, for example, will help you make the types of decisions that could be the difference between your business losing money or generating a profit.

When you’re ready to start your business plan, create manageable goals and hold yourself accountable for meeting deadlines.

The easiest way to get started is to create a task list with manageable goals and deadlines. Here are some tips to make writing a business plan less intimidating and easier to accomplish.

1. Don’t Attempt to Write Your Plan All at Once

Break up your plan into smaller sections and tackle each section one at a time. A great way to work through a business plan is to first create an outline. This will naturally create a guide for you to build from and keep your plan well-organized so you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

2. Schedule Time to Write

Schedule time to work on your plan. Get out your calendar and block out time each week to write. When you create a schedule and stick with it, you’ll complete your plan faster and be ready to launch sooner.

3. Use Technology and Other Resources to Your Advantage

There are plenty of online tools and templates available you can use as you start your business plan. Many are free. Using a template is a great way to create your plan’s outline and get started. SCORE offers a range of business planning templates that can give you a head start.

4. Get Feedback Along the Way

Ask trusted mentors and other partners to read through your plan as you go. They may offer suggestions on how to improve or clarify sections of the plan.

Writing a business plan can be an intimidating task. But, with the right approach and support, your plan will give you more clarity into and validation of your business concept than just about any other tool. 

Developing a business plan takes consistent effort and dedication. You can make the writing and planning process easier and far less intimidating with a SCORE mentor by your side. A SCORE mentor will support you throughout the entire writing and planning process, provide you with actionable feedback along the way, and help you create a strong plan for your business. Contact a SCORE mentor today and get started.

Ask SCORE: What basic financial documents does my business need?

When you own a small business, you have deadlines to meet, customers to serve, orders to fill, and a million other things to do. Finding time to work on your business and manage your financials can feel overwhelming when you are knee-deep in day-to-day operations.

Managing your finances doesn’t mean drowning in spreadsheets.

Taking time to manage your finances is an important part of what it takes to run a profitable business. At a minimum, there are three basic financial documents that you can’t ignore — your balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and cash flow statement. By keeping these three documents up-to-date and within reach, you will always have a strong sense of the financial health of your company.

According to SCORE mentor and retired CPA Frank Curtis, “These financial statements are the keys to understanding any business. In a very precise way, you can determine if your business is growing and succeeding or failing.”

Balance Sheet: Your balance sheet is a snapshot of your business’ financials at any given moment and shows you if you’re in the red or the black. This financial statement lists your business’ assets, liabilities and equity. These elements together give you your company’s net worth.

Profit and Loss Statement: Your profit and loss statement, or P&L, is your income statement. A P&L summarizes your income and expenses during a period of time — usually by fiscal quarter and year. This is the financial statement you will use to understand how your revenues and costs impact your profitability.

Cash Flow Statement: Your cash flow statement shows your sources of incoming and outgoing cash over a period of time. Cash flow documents are helpful when assessing performance trends and other aspects of your business that wouldn’t be as evident if you were evaluating your business only on the basis of the balance sheet or P&L.

Ask SCORE: What’s the best way to communicate with my customers?

by Ken Sethney, Kitsap SCORE

You’ve seen people so absorbed with their smartphones that they appear oblivious to what’s going on around them. True, everyone is entitled to a bit of privacy, and perhaps that message or video is really, really important. However, spending too much time in a “heads-down” mode can be off-putting and, sometimes dangerous.

Many entrepreneurs, particularly those who work from home, operate their small businesses much the same way when they rely too heavily on email to communicate with clients. Email is convenient, particularly for work related issues and updates, but numerous studies have come to the same conclusion — customers want to be treated as people, not as return email addresses. 

When you take a technology-centric approach to communication, you’re missing an opportunity to build a relationship with your customers. Don’t you think they would rather do business with someone they know? Wouldn’t you? 

PPP Loan Forgiveness

Borrowers may be eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness

If you received the Payroll Protection Loan (PPP) make sure you are taking the necessary steps to apply for loan forgiveness. 

A borrower can apply for forgiveness once all loan proceeds for which the borrower is requesting forgiveness have been used. Borrowers can apply for forgiveness any time up to the maturity date of the loan. If borrowers do not apply for forgiveness within 10 months after the last day of the covered period, then PPP loan payments are no longer deferred, and borrowers will begin making loan payments to their PPP lender.

You can find more information on the SBA Website.

Ask SCORE: What is the best way to market a niche product?

by Ken Sethney, Kitsap SCORE

Marketing a niche product means that you’re not selling to everyone. You are focused on a group of people who are most likely to buy your products or services. 

Having a narrow pool of potential customers comes with challenges and ultimately means more work on your part to find those people who fall within your niche. However, marketing a niche product also has advantages once you identify your customers. 

Successfully marketing a niche product starts with an in-depth understanding of your potential customer’s wants and needs.

When you are targeting a small group of buyers, you need to understand who is most likely to buy your product and how your product can provide solutions to their needs.

Start with a bit of market research. Google can help you find lots of useful information. You can also visit the Kitsap Regional Library and speak to an adult services librarian. The library website can give you access to valuable information. 

COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers

from the office of WA Govenor, Jay Inslee

On June 30 Washington state reopened under the Washington Ready plan. All industry sectors previously covered by the Roadmap to Recovery or the Safe Start plan (with the limited exceptions noted below) may return to usual capacity and operations.
Important Reference Documents
Healthy Washington Requirements
For governing bodies of public agencies opting to host in-person public meetings under the Open Public Meetings Act, as permitted under Emergency Proclamation 20-28, et seq., the miscellaneous venues guidance remains in effect.

New Flex Fund loan program to aid recovery for small businesses.

Small business owners and nonprofits across Washington can start applying today for low interest loans of up to $150,000 through the newly-launched Small Business Flex Fund. The Fund is a public-private partnership aimed at helping small businesses and nonprofits – particularly those in low-income communities – recover and grow as communities across the state reopen for business.
Learn more now.

Washington State Financial Support for Businesses

Newly-opened Small Business Flex Fund program offers low-interest loans to small businesses and nonprofits

The Washington State Department of Commerce this week launched a new Small Business Flex Fund. The Fund is a public-private partnership aimed at helping small businesses and nonprofits – particularly those in low-income communities – recover and grow as communities reopen for business. Gov. Jay Inslee in November 2020 approved a foundational investment of $30 million for Commerce to create a recovery loan program. Commerce is partnering with several financial institutions and community-based organizations to lend $100 million or more to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees and annual revenues of less than $3 million.

Qualifying businesses and nonprofits can apply for loans up to $150,000. Loans are available in 60- or 72-month loan terms at interest rates between 3-4.5%. The Fund works with and through local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which serve under resourced communities and underbanked businesses the Small Business Flex Fund aims to help. Interested applicants pre-apply on the Flex Fund’s online portal and, if they qualify, will be matched with a lender. Once matched, the participating lender will assist the business owner throughout the application process and provide additional advisory support. If a business doesn’t qualify, they will be connected to a trusted community organization that can assist with finding other resources. For more information and to apply, visit smallbusinessflexfund.org.  

Employer tax relief

With a goal of supporting businesses, the state legislature is stopping more than $900 million in employment taxes from being charged in 2021 and another $1.8 billion in the future. Learn more on the Employment Security Department’s employer news and updates page. Also new this year, the legislature set aside $500 million in an unemployment insurance relief account, directing assistance to many of the hardest-hit industries. Employers will see these adjustments on their December tax rate notice. Read more about how the Legislature is helping employers with employment taxes for 2021 and beyond.

Trainings and Webinars

State Department of Commerce launches new round of no-cost ScaleUp Business Trainings

ScaleUp: The Rebuild Edition is focused on helping small businesses restart and rebuild by improving their strategic decision-making, creating new operational efficiencies and strengthening the bottom line. Topics include creating efficient business systems, improving product/service alignment, creating a stronger competitive advantage in the marketplace, understanding financial statements and key business drivers, increasing sales leads and improving the sales funnel. A special “study hall” provides additional opportunities for private mentoring and coaching. The cost of this program valued at $1,599 is provided at no cost to Washington state businesses thanks in part to a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. 

Registration information can be found at http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/programs/scaleup/. For further questions, contact James Davis at jdavis@thurstonedc.com or (360) 464-6051. 

Grow Your Business – free July 14 webinar

Grow Your Business is a free, one-hour webinar for established businesses that are actively seeking opportunities to grow their business from beyond its current model – new markets, new products, new locations, new staffing, and new financing. Its focus is on government-supported opportunities and assistance and regulatory impacts of growth to factor in your planning. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. The next webinar is scheduled for July 14 at 2 p.m. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. Click here for more information about the SBRR webinars and to register online

Start Your Business – free August 10 webinar

Start Your Business is a free, one-hour webinar for aspiring entrepreneurs or newly-started businesses to gain valuable information about business registration and licensing, other regulatory requirements, and resources for further assistance. The next webinar is scheduled for August 10 at 2 p.m. The webinar includes brief presentations from several state agency small business liaisons with dedicated time for questions and answers. Click here for more information about the SBRR webinars and to register online

How much is your company worth?

Manage Your Expectations

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting 

Most business owners do not have a realistic idea of what their businesses are worth. Owners almost always think that their business is worth quite a bit more than the market would likely bear. There are several reasons for this.

1. Emotional Ties: Owners are personally and psychologically tied to their business. This is particularly true for long-running family businesses. 

An owner has poured their heart and soul into their business. Where others may see a mundane business, owners – like proud parents, see their business as an apple of their eye. This emotional tie may cause a disconnect with the realities of the market.

2. Lack of Analytics: Most small business owners do not have a grounding in the analytics which determine a company’s value. 

Sadly, I have run across several owners who negotiated a purchase price for their businesses with their gut, and ultimately overpaid. Now, they are hoping this is the baseline for the current valuation. Not surprisingly, this is not a criterion for prospective buyers. Most buyers value a business based on its cash flow. The original purchase price rarely – if ever, is a factor.

3. Needs-Based: Some owners reverse engineer the value of their business based on the amount they want/need. 

This is a bit like the tail wagging the dog. A knowledgeable buyer certainly won’t over-pay for a business in order to fund your retirement.

4. Unproven Success: Early stage or high -growth companies may not have proven their business model yet. 

Remember, in most cases small businesses are bought based on historical performance, not projections. To profit from investments made to grow the business, you should count on three years of sustained performance at the elevated levels.

At the end of the day your business is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. Absent that, a formal valuation not only helps to set expectations, but also educates the owner on the variables which impact value. 

While getting a valuation which is significantly less than one had hoped can be very discouraging. However, recognizing the factors driving value can also be empowering. And, positively influencing those factors can lead to a higher valuation down the road.


Kelly Deis is president of Soundpoint Consulting, based right here in Kitsap County. She earned an MBA at the Wharton School, and offers services as a Certified Valuation Analyst and Certified Exit Planning Analyst. She also helps clients develop a differentiating strategy.