Michelle Frith of Biehler & Associates Talks about the City of Austin’s Small Business Development Program’s Getting Connected Business Resource Fair
Where are you from originally?
All over the Midwest. I was born in the Oklahoma Panhandle, but lived in nearly every small town in Kansas and the Oklahoma/Texas Panhandle. The people are really nice there, but it was great to move to Central Texas.
What university did you go to?
The University formerly known as Southwest Texas State University – now known as Texas State University. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communication and a Master of Arts in Communication many years ago.
What brought you to Austin?
I came through Austin on a school field trip in middle school and thought it was so beautiful that I was determined to live here someday. And my dream came true! I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
What is the idea behind the SBDP's Business Resource Fair?
Business owners aren’t always aware of the incredible resources there are in Austin to help them be successful. We want to connect entrepreneurs to those resources, be it from non-profit groups whose mission is to help businesses, from business networking organizations, or from government programs which have ways to assist our small business owners. When Austin small businesses are successful, Austin itself is successful in so many ways.
What need does it fulfill?
These days everyone needs to stretch their imaginations and do research to find out how to be the best they can be. Businesses are no exception and an event like Getting Connected can offer a goldmine of information and assistance and all for free. While some see these times as “trying”, I think of them as an opportunity to be creative, to see things from new and different angles. Entrepreneurs seeking new information will only make themselves and their businesses the better for it. In any other tough economic times, it’s been the true entrepreneurs who turned things around for all of us. You know – necessity is the mother of invention!
Who is it for?
Getting Connected is a free event for anyone thinking of starting a business, who is researching and is about to start a business or anyone who is already in business. We will have resources that anyone can take advantage of. Besides the great exhibit with dozens of booths being conducted on the ground floor of Palmer Events Center, the City’s Small Business Development Program will also be offering three different BizAid Business Start Up Orientations throughout the event. The hour-long classes will be offered at 3:00, at 4:45 and at 6:00 p.m. These classes share the basic considerations every potential entrepreneur should ponder before starting. Many of our BizAid Start Up Orientations are currently business owners and the feedback is always extremely positive.
What was the most challenging aspect of running such a Fair? Coordination of so many different details is definitely a challenge. Venue selection, food, exhibitors, invitations, marketing, RSVP’s, speakers, audio/visual, booth layouts, evaluations, decorations – there is just so much to do! We have a great event coordinator and a team that is unbeatable. You can always tell when an event is well run when it looks easy. SBDP events appear seamless – and we’re really proud of that.
What other events/activities are you running this year?
Our major events each year are Getting Connected, the Ups and Downs of a Second Location slated for May 13 of this year and Meet the Lender offered each August. The Ups and Downs of a Second Location was a real hit last year and we’re really excited to be offering it again. That event will include panelists from three businesses that have successfully expanded their business to more than one location. They share their positive experiences and the challenges they faced in expansion as lessons learned. Meet the Lender on August 6 will once again offer 40+ lenders in one place at one time in a casual setting so that small business owners can shake hands and find out what the lenders’ requirements are and who they might want to do business with. Getting Connected and Meet the Lender are both free events but there is a small investment for Ups and Downs of a Second Location. Major events and recurring classes and events are listed on our website’s Calendar of Events or anyone interested can sign up to be in our database to receive emails about business related events and classes.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Plan, plan, plan and then go back and get a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and Plan F. Being an entrepreneur is fun, scary, hard, thrilling, demanding, complicated, and such a blast! Seek out resources and help, get a mentor and have support and cheerleaders who are on your side. Do your research and don’t forget while you’re working at your business, you have to work on your business. Tell everyone you know what you do – and more than anything be passionate!