Co-Starters to educate and encourage small business owners

Starting a business can be just as daunting as maintaining one, if not harder, and many potential business owners might feel overwhelmed at all the things they need to consider before opening the doors for their first customer.

Elizabethton has a chance to look at how to grow and expand their local businesses Monday, Feb. 4, with a Small Business Workshop taking place at the Chamber of Commerce.

City Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman said the workshop is a condensed version of a nine-week program called Co-Starters that will begin the following week.

“The program will take students through the process of creating a small business,” Hartman said.

The program is in partnership with the Tennessee Driving Innovation and the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. Classes will gather at a bus stationed at the Chamber of Commerce every Tuesday starting February 12.

“This program will help people who have a business idea to turn it into an actual business,” Hartman said. “It is also a great way for businesses to enhance their current business model.”

He said taking people’s business models to the next level is vital in order to stay in business.

“Your business model is your frame, it makes the business move forward,” he said. “You do not build a house without a frame.”

He said while not having a strong business model does not immediately spell doom for a business, he said having one makes the odds of financial success much higher.

He also said the workshop and subsequent program can showcase ways for businesses to expand owners might not have realized before.

“Maybe a business realizes they can expand online or change how they manufacture their products,” Hartman said. “This is a chance to learn something you might not have learned elsewhere.”

He said the classes are not just sitting in a room and listening to a lecture; instructors will provide hands-on opportunities to learn the material in the weekly classes.

“They are very intense,” Hartman said. “There is going to be homework.”

Despite this, he said the classes will be more than worth it for those who are looking to start or expand on their business idea.

“There has not been anyone who said this was a waste of time,” Hartman said.

The Co-Starter classes are $90 per person for the entire program, and those interested need to register beforehand at elizabethon.org/costarters. The workshop on February 4 is free and open to the public and will take place between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Both events will meet at 500 Highway 19E Bypass, at the Elizabethton Chamber of Commerce.

Hartman said there will be a brief presentation period at the end of the course to showcase your business idea and model to the class, but there will be no written final exam.

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