THE GROWTH PHASE

After you’ve been in business for awhile, you will hopefully be prospering and may even enter what experts call the high-growth phase. At this point, your business is growing rapidly and your biggest challenge becomes simply managing growth. At this phase, three big problems seem to crop up:

1. Accessing money
2. Linking to fellow entrepreneurs
3. Finding good employees


ACCESSING MONEY
Firms that grow fast need funding to finance that growth. If you have a good business track record, many funding options are available. Most entrepreneurs move ahead thanks to traditional bank loans, sometimes with support of the U.S. Small Business Administration. For example, the SBA 7(a) loan guarantee program is used by thousands of Illinoians each year through banks all over the state.

Some fast-growing firms need more than a bank loan—they need an infusion of equity investment that normally comes from a venture capital firm or from individual angel investors. You can locate Illinois-based venture capitals firms through the Illinois Venture Capital Association, which enhances the growth of Illinois' $77 billion venture capital/private equity community by advocating on behalf of the industry. Talk with your SBDC counselor about angel investor networks around the state.


LINKING TO FELLOW ENTREPRENEURS
If you’re looking for money, you can’t simply send in an application and expect a check to arrive. You will need to build a personal relationship with your lenders and investors. The best way to do this is to get out and network. There are several active regional entrepreneurial networks in western Illinois, both small and large, and they cater to the needs of entrepreneurs.  “Business to Business” networks are where you can best learn about which banks are most aggressive about doing business with new firms, or where you can find good employees. You can’t find this timely but essential information in books or on websites.

To find organizations in your community matched to your  type of business, you can attend local Chamber of Commerce meetings, Rotary, Lions Club, professional organizations or anywhere that other business owners gather.


FINDING GOOD EMPLOYEES
Finding good people is the other big challenge facing growing businesses. Word of mouth and networking is one way many business owners find employees. The Workforce Investment Board and the Illinois WorkNet Center may be able to provide assistance in locating new employees. Temp agencies and independent contractors can be helpful for short term needs. If you need to train new workers, Spoon River College’s Community Outreach Department may be able to offer training opportunities that match your business’ needs.

Trying to do business with the government/military?
Procurement Centers in Illinois match businesses to government contracts, government purchasers to Illinois suppliers and job seekers to Illinois jobs. Businesses, contracting officers, cardholders and job seekers can register, post, search and receive opportunities.

The Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center of Central Illinois is another helpful resource to companies wanting to procure work from the Department of Defense or other government agencies.

 

Illinois Small Business
Development Center at WIU


Dan Voorhis
309-836-2640
www.wiusbdc.org