Small Business Development
Starting a business is one of the noblest, and most American, of dreams. It is also one of the most complicated and challenging. That first spark, the inspiration, was the easy part. Long-term success requires perseverance, hardwork, and a little help from your friends. In life and business, it never hurts to have a guide, a friend or mentor who can help you through the challenges that lie ahead.
The Columbus Chamber of Commerce takes great pride in our Small Business Development Initiatives, because we know how many tools we have to help small business build successful enterprises. Put us to work building your future.
1. Marketing Partner, Sherree Mitchell @ Growing Room
In addition to networking with over 800 member businesses, membership gives you access to Chamber meetings, committee assignments, participation in promotional events and ribbon-cuttings, listings on the Chamber web with a free link to your website, and business seminars that offer solutions to common problems. Your partnership benefits help you plan for and market your business.
There was a time when marketing simply meant bundling up your wares and setting off for the central market to buy, sell and trade. Now, we live in an age where all the markets of the world can be accessed from a laptop or by a device in your front pocket the size of a calculator. It has never been easier to put your business out there for the public to find. Problem is, it’s never been harder to be found amongst the clutter.
As a Marketing Partner the Columbus Chamber of Commerce helps small businesses develop a thorough and thoughtful process for branding, communicating, delivering, and exchanging their goods and services throughout the community. Your business will not only benefit from the creative aspects of traditional marketing, such as advertising and sales, but will also learn how to take advantage of emerging media alternatives like the internet, social networking and SMS technology.
2. Health Insurance Discount, Bob Kidd @ Hecht Burdeshaw Architects
We’ve been doing business here in Columbus since 1960 and have been enhanced members of the Chamber for years. We recently took advantage of one of the many benefits of being a Chamber member when we received a 5% discount on our health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield. As a member of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, we are building a better future for our business.
Every business is concerned with the health of their employees, and with the cost of health care steadily on the uptick, the need for comprehensive and affordable health care plans is essential to talent retention. Controlling healthcare costs can ultimately be one of the biggest barriers to financial viability for companies both large and small.
We understand that employees are investments that must be nurtured. But we also know that deciding whether to provide healthcare coverage and at what level of costs has become one of the single most important decisions on attracting, hiring, and retaining quality employees. We help businesses through the maze of choices and help members supply their family of workers with the right level of prescription, dental, life, disability, and third party administrator services. As a member, you are eligible for a discounted health care product that could be almost impossible to obtain at a reasonable price.
3. Workers’ Comp Discount, Mac Cantrell @ Action Buildings
When we became a drug-free workplace, we realized a significant savings in our workers’ compensation insurance costs. Productivity and pride in workmanship increased while job site incidents decreased. However, we recognized an even greater benefit. As a locally owned family business, we not only care about the quality of our work, but we also care deeply about the quality of life for our employees and their families. The drug-free workplace program through the Chamber greatly benefits businesses like Action Buildings and the entire community.
No matter how strictly precautions are adhered to, how closely procedures are followed, accidents will happen. The likelihood of substance abuse being associated with the accident is alarming, as over 77% of all illicit drug users are employed. In fact, small and medium-sized firms employ 80% of the U.S. workforce where drug testing policies and programs are not in place. Absenteeism, increased healthcare costs, and decreased productivity due to alcohol and other substance abuse costs your company $1,000 per employee per year.
The Columbus Chamber of Commerce has saved Chamber members thousands of dollars while ensuring that your company’s customers, vendors, and employees know they are dealing with a safe, drug-free workplace.
4. “Drugs Don’t Work” Program, Judge Tasca Hagler @ Georgia State Board of Worker’s Compensation
Work place accidents can increase your workers’ compensation premiums and can result in lost productivity for your business. As a workers’ compensation judge, I have seen many cases where on the job accidents are the result of drugs and alcohol. The Chamber offers valuable assistance for small business owners in helping to create a drug free work environment through the Chamber’s ‘Drugs Don’t Work’ program. Every small business should strive to be a drug free work place to keep their workers’ compensation insurance premiums low and productivity high.
When interviewing a prospective employee, an employer’s questions often boil down to this: “Can I trust this person to have my business’s best interest in mind?” Illegal drug use is a betrayal of that employer-employee trust, but it is often impossible to deduce whether or not a candidate for a post is a risk. After all, trust takes longer than an interview to foster, and you need a workforce at the ready right now.
The Chamber’s “Drugs Don’t Work” Program helps businesses drug test their prospective applicants before the position is filled, and if the State Board of Workers’ Compensation certifies your business as being a drug-free workplace, you could receive a 7.5% discount on your workers’ comp premiums.
5. Member Training/Workshops, Blair Carnahan @ Merrill Lynch
The Chamber’s Access Columbus provides a small group of busy professionals who have recently moved to town a crash course in the key drivers of our Region. Presenters include elected officials, C-Level executives and department heads. Upon completion of the two-and-a-half day workshop, attendees and their spouses gain a sense of our community assets, new friendships and most importantly a greater connection to Columbus.
In the American workplace, there is but one certainty: change. Whether that change comes in the form of talent mobility, new legislation, or the ongoing dance between employee specialization and corporate interconnectivity, our businesses must be prepared to face what tomorrow presents.
The Columbus Chamber of Commerce offers our members a variety of opportunities to take on the issues of tomorrow. Whatever your field or discipline, whatever your position or title, our consultants will equip you with the assistance you need to stay ahead of the curve in your line of work and your business.
6. Small Business Networking Events, Richie Grantham @ Sunshine Banners
The Eye-Opener Breakfast, Business After Hours, Power Lunches, the Chamber offers so many opportunities for companies of every size to build a more powerful, effective network of friends, associates, customers, and prospects. If I could point to one single benefit that I feel more than pays my membership fee, it would be the new business I generate from my Chamber contacts.
It’s been said that with the advent of the Internet the world became a smaller place. That may be true, but the world is still pretty big! And it still takes the strength of numbers to affect prosperity. But, if most of your time and effort is spent simply steering the ship, it becomes hard to look sideways for kindred spirits.
That’s one of the best reasons to join the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. You are immediately part of something bigger than your business, bigger than your building, bigger than your block. You are connected to other companies across the entire valley that share common goals: taking our businesses, and our city, to the next level. A chamber membership puts you in immediate contact with future customers, mentors, and business associates.
7. Business One Stop Shop, Susan Cooper @ Centennial Realty & Mortgage
In planning to open my business, I contacted the Business One Stop Shop at the Chamber in 2007. My BOSS Counselor provided me with a road map of all the steps to opening a business. The Chamber helped me turn my vision into reality. Centennial Realty & Mortgage Company, Inc. will celebrate its second anniversary in November 2010. We could not have put all the pieces together so quickly without the help of the BOSS.
(For start-ups & small businesses) Anyone who has started a business from the ground up has become quite familiar with the interior of the local office supply super-store. And why not? It’s a great place to go for all your tangible office supply needs. But what about the numerous intangibles?
The Columbus Chamber of Commerce has got you covered! Business One Stop Shop for start-ups & small businesses has been an indispensible resource to those hardy souls looking to forge their own path.
If you have questions regarding city requirements for operating your business such as permits, licenses, and fee schedules, information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, or business planning materials from the US Small Business Administration, let the Columbus Chamber of Commerce be your One Stop Shop.
8. Volunteer Opportunities, Terry Wiggins @ Wiggins Insurance
Volunteering with the Chamber not only allows me to recognize other businesses, but also creates opportunities to develop and grow my own business through their many programs. The Small Business Giant, Hometown Hero, and The Visionary Awards are just a few of the programs that honor the essential role small businesses play in our overall economic success. Needless to say, as a small business owner myself, my involvement with the Chamber has been very rewarding.
“Reciprocity” is a word you’ll hear a lot around the halls of the Chamber. The mutual exchange of goods and services for the greater good of the community has been our business model ever since we’ve been in business. And our members know that the more they put into the Chamber, the more they will get out of it. Sometimes, we’ve found the reward is in the giving and is greater than the gift itself, especially in our many volunteer opportunities.
Of course, volunteering is a great way to get added exposure for your business and build top-of-mind awareness in the public eye, as well as establish networking channels between local merchants to promote economic growth on the whole throughout the community, but the most rewarding aspect of volunteering with the Chamber is the reciprocity, the giving back. After all, our city has provided us with the tools of prosperity. We need but use those tools to build a home where we can all live and work happily.
9. Minority Business Development, Daphane Hill @ Bridal Boutique
As a new minority small business owner, the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in providing the direction that I needed for my business. The mentoring and advice that I continue to receive helps me stay on track with my goals while thinking outside of the box. The encouragement is always there to help me realize that all of my dreams can be achieved and greater.
Columbus has come a long way from its roots as a small mill town on the edge of Georgia. Thanks to our international business community, our world-class university, and proximity to one of the greatest military installations in the nation at Ft. Benning, Columbus has grown to be a cosmopolitan city. And the diversity of our population is a point of pride that the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce seeks always to shine a light on.
Our initiatives dealing with minority business development have seen a steady rise in minority-owned businesses not only get a foothold in the local landscape, but also succeed and flourish. Columbus is blessed to have so many varied voices debating the issues of our day. Join the Chamber and make sure the city hears your voice.