Running a business is a lost art. So many try, but so many fail. So, what’s the secret to success? Well, although we can’t be 100% sure, most successful people are known to take control of their own destiny. Whether you’re reading a Stephen Covey business book or the latest issue of Inc. Magazine, spotlighted professionals often point to a moment in their past where they realized that they could only control their own behavior. This is actually something I preach to my children every chance that I get. You see, many of us get caught up in how the unpredictable nature of the universe and the people and circumstances in it. Who is doing what to hold me back? How is this new rule/policy going to affect my results? But the truth of the matter is that we will never be able to control someone else’s behavior, (I mean, this isn’t a sci-fi movie, after all).

So, how do we take that fact and translate that into our business? Well, the key is seizing the day, seeking opportunity wherever you can. Please note that “seize” and “seek” are both proactive verbs. They require us to do something, rather than having something done to us. Taking control of the opportunities that are available to us may seem like common sense, but I’m always surprised to hear of the silver platter of contacts, connections, programs and cheap help that goes untouched. There are several organizations that care about businesses. In fact, there are more than thirty in this region alone that have “assisting business…” as part of their mission, even though they may do completely different things.

It’s important to know the roles and programs available at such organizations to really take advantage of what they offer. For instance, you may be a chamber member, but not aware that many of these organizations offer low cost and free marketing opportunities like business spotlights and ribbon cuttings, and can help you reach a broader audience via sponsorships and on-site events. Local municipalities often have procurement officers that maintain a pre-approved list of vendors and service providers that their departments can use – do you know how to get on that list in your community? What about other registration opportunities? Do you know that the state just launched a new online tool to connect with Louisiana businesses, their products and services? Sometimes, you may be forced to dig for this information, and other times you can receive it passively through a newsletter. Taking the time to identify these prospects may seem like a chore, but the return on your time investment can be huge. One government contract could mean a multi-year boost to your bottom line. Pre-approval for a program like Enterprise Zone can mean reduced tax liability and sales tax rebates for new hires. And the list goes on and on.

I’ve assembled some of my favorite tools and resources that I stumbled upon by paying attention, signing up for e-blasts, and searching on the Internet. What will you find by doing your own homework? Perhaps you’ll find the next big idea, or chance at success.

  1. Small & Emerging Business Development Program – This is one of my favorite programs offered to local businesses. Administered for the region locally in Lafayette, the SEBD Program provides cost-savings to Louisiana entrepreneurs who plan to utilize other Louisiana businesses to fulfill their need(s) for professional services. This can range from legal advice to accounting expertise, to more technical services like Search Engine Optimization, website development, and even app design. Companies that qualify are paired with small business consultants that will assist in identifying establishments that provide expert assistance. Application guidelines, eligibility standards and benefits can all be found here: ledsmallbiz.com.
  1. Louisiana Business Connection – Louisiana Economic Development has seized the opportunity to connect important Louisiana stakeholders – large corporations, industrial contractors and small businesses – together though an online portal. The goal is to have large companies with contract opportunities register, and small businesses that can supply those services register. On this website, they’ll find each other and hopefully explore opportunities to work together. The site also has special designations for disadvantaged, minority-owned, woman-owned, and veteran-owned businesses. The site is newly-launched, so register today to receive the perks of being an early adopter. Sign up is simple: https://louisianajobconnection.com/b2bemployer/.
  1. Vermilion Parish Job Fair – The inaugural fair held in 2016 welcomed nearly 50 employers throughout Acadiana to Vermilion to meet our highly-skilled jobseekers. Businesses can participate in a variety of ways. If you’re looking for 20 employees, or just one, this event can meet your needs. Registration is a nominal $25 and comes with lunch, a booth to meet candidates, and connections to other employers and contacts that may be potential clients or customers. Those who aren’t hiring still can participate by sponsoring one of the fair’s features, areas, or associated events (like the Jobseeker Workshop). The big day is Wednesday, April 19th so visit the website soon. Don’t miss your chance at participation: developvermilion.org/jobfair.

Do you want to be first to hear about opportunities for your business? Visit our website to sign up for our newsletter at www.developvermilion.org or call our office at (337) 740-0433 to set up a visitation. We look forward to helping you seize the day, your market share, and deserved success here in Vermilion!

Published in the Abbeville Meridional, 3.29.17