by Justin Aufdermauer
Fostering business growth is an often unnoticed or unseen part of what the Chamber does, but recently more businesses have been seeking out that benefit. So I wanted to take some time to explain what exactly that process looks like.
A lot of people think the Chamber helps businesses grow only through training. As owners and operators learn more about running a business and reinvest that knowledge into their own shop, their businesses expand. While that is true, there is more to the story. Helping with business growth also includes providing “practical advising” on topics like property acquisition, relocation and renovation, operational efficiencies and hiring – and that’s the side that the Chamber focuses on.
I’ll add quickly that we are fortunate to have the training side covered by the Tillamook Small Business Development Center. Their work on academic and technical advising frees up time for the Chamber to direct its attention to helping with the other side of the business growth equation. Plus, the SBDC plays a vital role in educating businesses on the nitty gritty details and requirements of entrepreneurship, so business owners are more prepared to have practical advising conversations with us later down the road.
What do I mean when I say the Chamber provides practical advising for businesses growth? It can take a few different forms.
When an aspiring entrepreneur first hatches the idea to open a business, the Chamber helps grow that idea by talking through the potential pitfalls they might face. These conversations cover more than what kinds of licenses a business owner needs to open legally. We talk about challenges and opportunities within the industry, sustainability of their business model, how to avoid burnout and how to prepare for future growth now.
We also advise businesses throughout the property acquisition process, whether for a new shop or a relocation. We help business owners navigate general land use and zoning requirements or conditions. (Just because there is a piece of property for sale doesn’t always mean it can be used for business right away). We also talk through how a certain property they are considering best fits their business model.
You’ve seen our work helping with business growth in the form of storefront renovations. (Think Dutch Mill, Madeline’s Vintage Marketplace and Flavors on First Street, for example). The businesses apply for urban renewal grants and complete the renovation work, but we love to help them formulate the best pitch and design renderings to secure the award.
We’ve even helped businesses grow by providing our shared workspace at Chamber headquarters as a location for hiring interviews. This is especially beneficial for businesses that are just getting started, because they can begin the hiring process well before opening, even if their own location is not quite ready for visitors yet. Really, it’s a major leg up for forming a staff.
After the long year businesses have endured during the pandemic, you might be surprised to hear that business growth advising is taking up a large portion of our time at the Chamber. Our business community is resilient and strong. Many local business owners are working hard to enrich the community with new services, new products and new opportunities, pandemic or not. I am proud of their work – and more than happy to help them along in the process.
And while I can’t talk specifically about some of the ideas brewing in our business community, I can tell you this: There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon. So keep your eyes open to see how our local businesses grow!