Start up Downtown Franklin

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

by Amanda Jarratt & Dan Howe

If you have ever thought about owning and operating your own business, but never quite had the motivation or impulse to pull the trigger… NOW is the time!  START UP Downtown Franklin is the ideal program to get you started on the pathway to becoming your own boss, and the opportunity to win up to $40,000 in prize money never hurt anyone either. Our very own Shark Tank type business plan competition is kicking off in just a few short weeks on Jan. 11, 2017 at 5 p.m. at the Franklin Business Center. Over the course of several months, at no cost to you we will be providing six training courses to participants taught by faculty from Old Dominion University.  These courses cover topics key to successfully launching your own business venture and include:

• Simple Steps for Starting a Business Overview – (2 hours): This overview will lay the foundation to help participants understand the basic step-by-step process of how to start a business and provide them with the tools and templates to turn their business idea into reality.  Areas of focus include: creating a business concept outline; how to write an effective business plan; creating a successful marketing and sales strategy, including website design and market research; and financial projections and funding sources, including business loans.

• Innovation, Branding, Competition and Leadership – (2 hours): This training program is designed to help participants to create and develop focused, clear and persuasive business ideas and concepts that can be turned into successful small businesses that will generate greater sales with less effort. The participants will also learn how to identify and further define their brand differentiators.  They will learn how to research, assess and benchmark their competition. The participants will receive training on the fundamental leadership knowledge and skills necessary to successfully execute their business strategy and grow their business. Business success depends on five key elements: (1) idea, (2) passion, (3) branding/differentiation from competition, (4) leadership and (5) business plan execution.  Passion flows from the business leaders and his/her idea and when the idea is focused, clear, distinct, and dramatically different, then developing a business plan for successful execution will follow.

• Accounting – (2 hours): This training covers basic accounting and finance principles for responsible money management, including record keeping, tax issues, financial statement analysis, cash budgeting, investments and financial management tools such as QuickBooks.

• Finance and Credit – (2 hours): This training covers financing options available to entrepreneurs and helps participants to understand how a positive credit score and building credit can impact financing necessary to start a business.

• Sales and Marketing – (2 hours): Through a combination of classroom training and monthly group workshops, participants learn to creatively sell their goods or services, effectively market their business, and develop a marketing plan. Interactive group workshops will help participants to master their marketing message and create a brief elevator speech that can be tested on one another that captures the essence of what their business does.

• Business Planning – (2 hours): This is a broad training provided through a combination of a classroom training workshop and an individual consultation that will enable the participants to create an operational business plan, including selecting a legal structure, tax obligations, cash flow planning, and operational planning. We will provide you with all of the training and tools that you need to develop your business plan then you pitch your business idea for Downtown Franklin to a panel of judges.  Up to $40,000 in prize money is available for distribution to the top and most successful pitches as determined by the judges.

A few items to take note of: attendance at all six courses is mandatory to be eligible to pitch your idea to the panel of judges and be eligible to win any prize money.  The successful individuals must agree to be in business and open a storefront in Downtown Franklin by Sept. 30, 2017 with all award monies spent by Dec. 31, 2017. If you are interested in participating or just learning more about the potential opportunities available from the STARTUP Downtown Franklin program please plan to attend the Kick Off event Jan. 11 at 5 p.m. Come to network, learn about the program and guidelines and have your questions answered.. We hope you will join us in the exciting opportunity to reignite Downtown Franklin.

Amanda Jarratt is the CEO and president of Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. She can be reached at or 562-1958.

Dan Howe is the executive director of the Downtown Franklin Association. He can be reached at 562-6900.