Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. -

Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comSmall Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comPosted: 30 May 2020 05:22 AM PDT More than 40 Lehigh Valley small business owners Saturday will be offering virtual deals on what they say will be one of their biggest shopping sales annually.Small Business Saturday typically is timed for following Black Friday in November. The nationwide effort for the past decade encourages communities to shop local as it kicks off the busiest shopping season of the year.The chamber is moving this year to hold the event twice -- this time with social distancing -- as many businesses struggle to survive financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their doors on March 19. Restaurants were then forced to offer menu items by takeout only with curbside pickup or delivery.Lehigh Val…

Six Key Resources for Women-Led Small Businesses in Pennsylvania | PA Business Central | Marcellus Business Central | Women in Business - Pennsylvania Business Central

Six Key Resources for Women-Led Small Businesses in Pennsylvania | PA Business Central | Marcellus Business Central | Women in Business - Pennsylvania Business Central

Six Key Resources for Women-Led Small Businesses in Pennsylvania | PA Business Central | Marcellus Business Central | Women in Business - Pennsylvania Business Central

Posted: 14 Jun 2019 06:04 AM PDT



When it comes to supporting women- owned businesses, Pennsylvania has a lot to offer and for good reason; at last count, there were more than 300,000 women- owned businesses contributing to the state economy. Their numbers may still pale in comparison to male-led enterprises, but they're making inroads across the state.

These businesses are employing Penn­sylvanians and contributing to the local economy. Their success is vital to the fi­nancial health of the state, and this is the reason several resources have been made available to support them and their unique needs. Some are offered on the local level. Others come by the way of the Federal government. But they all share a common goal: supporting the state's female busi­ness owners.

There are so many programs women business owners can choose from, so we did the work, narrowing it down to the top six.

Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers

Operating for nearly 40 years, the Penn­sylvania Small Business Development Centers is a nationally accredited pro­gram that provides business owners with consulting, training and information to support their enterprises. A public/pri­vate partnership with the U.S. Small Busi­ness Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and 18 universities and col­leges across the state, its goal is to provide business owners with the knowledge nec­essary to grow. It's open to all small busi­nesses in the state, but it does go to great lengths to reach the underrepresented and underserved, which includes women. And it appears to be working. According to the Pennsylvania Small Business De­velopment Centers, women and jointly- owned businesses represent more than half of its clients.



The centers are staffed with experts who help women create and fund their busi­nesses, take advantage of programs that put them on equal footing with their male counterparts and get them in contact with other business owners through roundta­bles, networking events and forums.

Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop

Funded by the state, Pennsylvania Busi­ness

One-Stop Shop is available to resi­dents who are thinking about launching a business or are already operating one. A great resource for businesses in all stages of development, it provides entrepre­neurs with assistance in drafting business plans, registering with the state and han­dling operations.

The agency offers a search tool to ensure a business name is available and provides access to advice, such as how to find local business mentors. Pennsylvania One-Stop Shop also steers business owners in the right direction to get information on regis­trations, permits and taxes.

The state agency assists existing busi­ness owners by operating programs that connect small businesses and government agencies in Pennsylvania. Its Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance sup­ports the needs of entrepreneurs while the Industrial Resource Center Network helps manufacturers respond to the technologi­cal advances and competitive pressures of an increasingly global economy.

Women's Business Enterprise Center East

This nonprofit advocacy group, which teams up with local corporations, provides certification and training to women-led businesses in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Southern New Jersey. WBEC East has an expansive list of support services aimed to help women start and grow businesses in the region.

Funding for many of its programs comes from the U.S. Small Business Administra­tion's Office of Women's Business Owner­ship. The group administers the Women's Business Enterprise National Council cer­tification, which is awarded to companies that are at least 51% female owned and operated. The certification is accepted by more than 1,000 companies and govern­ment agencies across the country. The nonprofit also offers training, networking and programs to help women-led busi­nesses grow.

Along with certifying women-led busi­nesses, WBEC East works with companies to develop supplier diversity programs, connecting them to the female-owned businesses in the state. It boasts a roster of 50 council members and 58 council repre­sentatives from corporations and govern­ment agencies that support female busi­nesses.

Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority

Serving minority-owned businesses, the Pennsylvania Minority Business Develop­ment Authority provides business loans of up to $250,000 to go toward land and building acquisitions, costs for building construction and renovations, and machin­ery and equipment costs.

The loans are low cost and fixed rate, currently carrying an interest rate of just 2%. Minority-owned women-led busi­nesses have 15 years to pay back the land and building loans and up to 10 years for loans to cover machinery and equipment. Low-interest rate working capital loans have to be paid within three years. Busi­ness owners can apply online at www.esa. Borrowers are required to provide supplemental information, including financial documents and a de­scription of the business, marketing and operations plan.

Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion & Small Business

Open to minorities, women, veterans, LGBTQ and other underserved business owners, the Bureau of Diversity, Inclu­sion & Small Business is tasked with ensuring a fair environment when con­tractors are soliciting business from a small diverse business. In order to take advantage of the services the agency of­fers, a business can't employ more than 100 employees and has to earn less than $38.5 million in annual gross revenue.

In addition to making sure women- owned businesses are treated fairly in submitting requests for proposals, the group offers a mentor-protege program to help these businesses compete for non-highway capital construction and supplies and services procurement op­portunities in the state. It encourages contractors and suppliers to provide as­sistance to verified small diverse busi­nesses, helping them get the contracts and keep them. The idea is to help wom­en led businesses grow by improving their offering, allowing them to better compete for these vital contracts.

Women's Opportunities Resource Center

Headquartered in Philadelphia, the Women's Opportunities Resource Cent­er's mission is to help economically dis­advantaged women gain self-sufficiency through business ownership, job train­ing and savings programs. On the busi­ness front, the nonprofit provides female small business owners or those looking to start an enterprise with microloans. As a microloan intermediary for the U.S. Small Business Administration, it offers loans to underserved populations that want to start or expand a business. The loans range from as small as $1,000 to as large as $50,000.

The nonprofit also provides assistance with developing a business plan, making financial projections and provides access to legal and accounting services. Its self- employment training programs provide women with business ideas and own­ers of existing part-time businesses and enterprises that have been in operations for less than a year with valuable training, so they can take their businesses to the next level. .

Donna Fuscaldo is veteran reporter covering technology, the environment and policy for national publications in­cluding Forbes,, Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal.

10 Small Business Ideas for the Passionate Entrepreneur - Thrive Global

Posted: 14 Jun 2019 09:15 AM PDT

you could start, manage and grow yourself, something you could run from home, an entrepreneurial adventure that could profit you immensely… And yet, you're dry on ideas.

But any idea to kick off business require start-up funding is really challenging.  Here, we list ten most interesting, likely successful business ideas for your start-up:

1.    Cleaning Services:

This is a universal, always-in-demand business. Reliable, affordable quality cleaning services are needed almost everywhere. In fact, there are quite a number of directions you can take your cleaning business. Would you like to cater homes, or offices, restaurants or shops? Some places, such as restaurants, require more thorough cleaning than others. A lot of times, businesses require cleaners at late timings, once they've closed for the day. Mostly, for services like these, you hardly need to spend on marketing because your customers come as word spreads in your neighborhood.

2.    Household Organizer:

In too many homes, clutter and disorder is a serious enough problem for family members, especially moms, to seek outside help. You could choose to act as a consultant who helps the family organize by giving suggestions, or you could come into the house and do the organizing for them.

You'd have to understand how the family uses the different rooms in the house, and what work each family member does, to give useful advice on how to organize. You could use questionnaires and organizers, and a horde of organizing ideas to help make their home a more comfortable, manageable place to live.

3.    Interior Designer:

If you have the talent in making indoor scenes look alive and welcoming, you could get paid for it. Although many interior designers are trained and certified, what the art requires is insight. It requires an understanding of the people who live in the house, their lifestyle and preferences, and then using that knowledge to tailor their home's interior appropriately.

Interior Designers can use their creativity to make dark, narrow places look vibrant, colorful and spacious. They can make ordinary rooms look more attractive with simple, low-cost solutions.

4.    Used Book Sales:

Most avid readers own great quality originals they are unwilling to part with. In fact, almost everyone has a stash of unused books they don't know what to do with. Book sellers can acquire these books for almost free, clean and sort them and sell them for a lot less than their market price. For you to gain customers, especially repeat customers, you'll need regular shop hours. If you focus on a particular category of books, you could create a baseline of customers who regularly shop for books from you.

5.    Wedding Planner

This is the kind of help most brides need. You'll need to know the trending fashions and fads, the colors of the season and the hottest dress styles. You can advise your client on the best and most affordable options in the market, helping them choose flowers, wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, beauty parlors, venues, invitation cards, caterers and the one million other things you need for a wedding. For you to become the go-to wedding planner in town, you must know every intricacy of the business. This gives your client the comfort that they have someone they can rely on during this stressful time.

6.    Event Planner

This idea is quite similar to the last, although these events may usually be smaller in scale than weddings. Event planning requires insight into the possibilities across town, you may have to visit all the possible nearby venues and find all relevant details. You could then easily advise your clientele of the venue that suits them best considering the kind and scale of their event. Is it a grand birthday party, an anniversary, or an engagement? What kind of d├ęcor would be appropriate; would you need a cake? All these would be questions the event planner would be left to decide.

7.    Freelance Graphic Designer

Owing to the involvement of graphics in almost all visuals, graphic designers are very much in demand. Freelancers with the expertise and the name, can be hired by websites, start-ups and businesses that require anything from fliers and newsletters to magazines and advertisements. Even if you're only good at designing, you can offer potential clients more, including editorial creation and the printing and distribution of the work. You can also employ other freelancers for the work you cannot do yourself.

8.    Graffiti Removal

Equip yourself with an arsenal of products that could clean spray paint, chalk or markers from all kinds of surfaces, and get to work cleaning your neighborhood. Some spots are famous among late-night graffiti artists, and many public buildings and private properties require this kind of maintenance. You can even arrange an interval deal, wherein you clean their property every month or quarter, and charge accordingly.

9.    Landscaper

Most houses need regular yard maintenance, and many house-owners don't have the time. Yards need different kinds of service throughout the year. They need leaves to be cleared out during fall, snow shoveled from the driveways in winter; seeds need to be sowed in the spring, and regular mowing is needed in the summer. You can offer your client a variety of annuals and perennials, kitchen gardens for home-grown vegetables, trimming and pruning, and pest control.

10.  Flea Market

Almost everyone has highly useful, interesting things they own that they never get the chance to use. It's your job to find those things, convince them to part with them, and name a good price. Once you have an inventory of small, use-able things, you'll almost certainly have a ton of customers spending their weekend rummaging your collection for stuff they like. You'll get a larger profit margin because used things may even be obtained for free.


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