Local Resources: A Key Part of Your Startup Growth Strategy

Local Resources: A Key Part of Your Startup Growth Strategy

Every founder experiences business growing pains, but you don’t have to soldier on alone. Your local startup ecosystem can help you get through these challenges and execute your startup growth strategy. Small-business centers, incubators and accelerators can offer valuable assistance with developing a business plan, finding funding, marketing and more. 

You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to successfully scale a startup. You have access to dozens of resources to support your growth right here in the southern U.S. — and a strong partner in Nexus Louisiana, which connects small business owners with the organizations and resources you need to fuel your startup’s growth. 

During Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW), we rounded up top resources and experts to share their secrets to a successful startup growth strategy. Check out highlights from the conversations and some of the resources available to Louisiana businesses.

Understanding the Challenge of Growth for Startups

Growing a startup isn’t easy. Resources and expertise might be scarce, or you might take the right steps out of order, such as investing in marketing before properly testing your products or services. Make yourself aware of some of the challenges you may encounter along your growth journey.

The city of Baton Rouge, for instance, passed an ordinance providing opportunities to contract with disadvantaged businesses, said Leslie Ricard-Chambers, assistant chief administrative officer to the Baton Rouge mayor’s office. But to win bids on city projects, you have to make sure you have the day-to-day resources and cash flow you need to do the work.

Say a small business wins a contract for a long-term project with 60- to 90-day payment terms. “You’re excited to win it, but you have expenses that accrue; you have payroll you have to cover to get to that ending point,” said Chris Spalatin, senior manager of small business and entrepreneurship at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, which provides programs to help counter these small-business growing pains.

“The No. 1 thing you have to do to be an entrepreneur is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said Adam McCloskey, center director at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at LSU. Once you realize that having a small business means being open to constant pivots to better serve existing customers or reach a new target audience, you can take a more fluid approach to growth.

Exploring Federal and Local Government Resources

When creating a growth plan for your startup, leveraging local resources is essential for success while minimizing the risks associated with expansion efforts. Doing your research to understand what’s available locally will ensure you have access to the right guidance and support when you need it most during this crucial stage in any business journey.

The federal and local government is a great place to start. Agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration often provide grants and incentives that can help solve some of the challenges of business growth.

Fortunately, Louisiana startups and small businesses have incoming programs that could support their growth plans. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) is receiving up to $113 million for five new programs to help small businesses in the aftermath of the pandemic, said Kelly Raney, business development manager and lead of LED’s business incentives services division. These programs fall into two buckets:

  • Equity funding: “The seed capital program and the venture capital program offer equity financing to startups and early-stage businesses,” Raney said. “And we currently have 29 equity firms in this state that have been approved to offer these equity programs.”
  • Loan programs: These programs focus on microlending, collateral support and small-business loan guarantees, respectively.

“The U.S. Treasury office has stated that there must be an eligible business purpose in order for the businesses to use the funds under any one of the five programs,” Raney continued. “An eligible business purpose includes startup costs, working capital inventory, payroll equipment, even franchise fees.”

In addition to financial resources, LED also provides other types of support through its Small and Emerging Business Development (SEBD) Program, said Stephanie Hartman, LED’s director of small business services. The SEBD hosts roundtables where curated groups of small business owners come together to learn more about topics related to startup growing pains, such as adding team members or marketing to ideal customers.

Finding the resources available to you through federal and local governments can help you achieve the next level of startup growth.

Making Connections Within the Local Ecosystem

By leveraging all the resources available within your local startup scene, you have a much higher chance of achieving success. But applying to use these benefits can be overwhelming, since dozens of government, university and nonprofit programs are out there. Don’t forget that there are people behind each of these programs who want to help you grow.

Even getting help with some of the smaller tasks associated with startup growth can make a big difference — and reinforce the sense of community and support. “When you’re completing your procurement application, if it gets a little bit too onerous, and if it feels too demanding, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or send an email to say, ‘I need help,’” Ricard-Chambers said of the city of Baton Rouge contract bidding process. 

One of the secrets of a successful startup growth strategy is finding the right support networks within your community. “You have to continue to stay engaged in your community. You have to continue to receive the information that you need,” said April Hawthorne, executive director of the Baton Rouge North Economic Development District. “We’re all creators in some shape or form. So we have it in us — all of us — to be entrepreneurs.”

Make it a point to get out there and attend as many events as you can so you can meet other small business owners and network with representatives from helpful resources, such as Nexus Louisiana. “You have to keep going back; you have to go through the process,” said Krsytle Allen, PhD, program leader and community economic development specialist at Southern University Ag Center. “But so many people fall off the process because they either don’t have the dedication or the discipline to remain committed.”

Nexus Louisiana is committed to bringing you the best programs and resources available to accelerate your startup growth strategy. Do yourself a favor by participating in the community and discovering the connections that can help pave your way to long-term success.

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