The Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) at Lorain County Community College has partnered with the Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI) to bring the Scratch Made Incubator program to service local small businesses that create handmade products. The ECDI is an organization that is committed to providing loans and services to small businesses.
Beginning on April 5, Scratch Made is a six-week program that meets once a week and was developed based on the need of local small businesses to learn how to get their products from their home or workshop to a store shelf. Each week, a business-guidance lesson covers different aspects of running a business. Information as to how to package, label, market, and pitch their products are at the core of the program. Additionally, bringing these different businesses into one place provides them an opportunity to share ideas with each other.
“People want to support local, so while we’re developing local businesses, they can market themselves as making a product that was made in Northeast Ohio,” said Beth Gantz, a business advisor for the SBDC.
Finances and understanding their target markets are two of the main areas in which small businesses need instruction, Gantz said. Managing finances properly was the topic of the second-week lesson on April 12.
Linda Kanner, the lecturer during the program’s second week, was an entrepreneur and is now volunteering her time to coach business management. During the session, Kanner stressed the importance of hiring an accountant, advised participants to research the competition’s prices, and learn how to use Microsoft Excel.
On May 10, the final week of the program, the participants are expected to release the pitch for their product. Using the knowledge acquired from the earlier sessions, business owners must be able to display an understanding of how to operate a business.
“They will be expected to explain their product, what their sales projections will be, the prices of their ingredients, how to market their product, and how they’re going to get started,” said Gantz.
Those who complete the pitch will have the opportunity to secure small business loans and shelf-space at Ben Franklin stores, a small chain of five-and-dime craft stores located in Amherst and Oberlin.
In the past, the ECDI has offered similar programs. With so many big retailers closing their stores, there was an opportunity to take advantage and make money, which has opened the doors for small businesses, said Gantz.
Lauren Smith, the manager of entrepreneurial education at ECDI, was contacted by Gantz, and the two discussed the need for such a program and acted on it together.
“We thought it would be a great fit not only to work together on the programming but then to be able to have a place for our small businesses to go for lending,” said Gantz.