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Small Biz Training

Business Basics Series

The Soul District Business Association Business Basics Series is an ongoing business navigation and education series designed to help small business owners with the challenges of operating successful and profitable businesses. The Business Basic Series is sponsored by the Soul District Business Association, Sussman Shank LLP and is produced by Flossin Media.

Learn more here.

Overview of Soul District Business Association: Founded in 1977, The Soul District Business Association (SDBA, formerly known as North/Northeast Business Association, or SDBA) is one of the largest and most diverse business districts in the city. SDBA has devoted 40 years of service, advocating for economic opportunities for our business district with emphasis upon client engagement with historically marginalized/ Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Notable founders of our organization include the late Neil Kelly, founder of the prestigious remodeling company Neil Kelly, Sam Brooks, an award-winning Black entrepreneur and founder of theOregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME), plus a host of predominantly Black business stakeholders from inner-North and Northeast Portland. Together they sought to create a culture of unity and equity with regards to economic opportunities and outcomes for all businesses within the N/NE boundaries. They initiated networking events, business training sessions and gathered to navigate City and State governing systems in order to create better outcomes for the Soul District business community.

As City planners missed opportunities to invest in culturally responsive business district leadership, while green lighting development decisions that led to the severe displacement of thousands of Black businesses and residents, the SDBA has maintained a presence. The Soul District remained at the table as advocates for our community, so much so, that in 2010, in response to the district’s rapid development, the SBDA experienced resurgence in business engagement, with the bulk of that engagement coming from Black businesses. With the help of community impact partners, SDBA began to once again hold their historic “Red Beans & Rice Networking events”, a forum where experts and professionals were brought in to present business impacting subject matters such as zoning, financing, etc. We initiated advertising and marketing campaigns for the district such as the MLK Dream Run event in order to create opportunities for businesses to share in a collective promotion while learning how to create marketing messaging for their businesses, meet key deadlines for inclusion and build relationships with their business cohorts. We ignited training programs like the Soul Fellows Youth Entrepreneur Career Training program (YECT) that engaged real time professionals in their field of expertise, in advising, mentoring and training the next generation of entrepreneurs. This created a culture of collaboration to break down the barriers of business isolation as more entrepreneurs, many who are Black, began to once again see themselves as capable, significant and influential.

Program Overview: This Is B.I.G. —- Business Impact Group (BIG) was founded by the SDBA and our community partners to deliver culturally specific technical assistance services that yield multigenerational wealth creation opportunities and outcomes for businesses, with a particular emphasis on minority/Black businesses, who operate or who want to return and operate businesses within the Soul District geographical boundaries (inner N/NE). Over the last 10 years, N/NE Portland has grown exponentially, experiencing robust and vibrant economic gains as a byproduct of rapid gentrification and population expansion.  However, not everyone within its geographical boundaries are benefitting equally from the boon of economic progress.

Grave socioeconomic disparities continue to persist for communities of color within these boundaries. The NNECDI 2017 action plan outlined a severe 32% decline in Black population and 31% decline in income, while white population and income continues to steadily rise in N/NE Portland. Our approach to achieving success will center on delivering technical assistance through the following focuses.  1) Navigating The System-equipping business owners with the skills necessary to successfully navigate the compliance systems required to effectively operate and maximize economic benefits. 2) Effective Business Networking-Training job seekers and business owners skills that teach them how getting together with focus can get them ahead. 3) Too Legit (and Legal) To Quit – increase the sophistication of business owners with regard to important legal practices and concepts that significantly impact the strength of their businesses. 4) Business Checkup – A reality check to help businesses assess, analyze and interpret the fundamental factors that impact healthy business outcomes  5) Building Business Confidence- Using psychological training methodologies to support our clients in developing essential skills necessary to operate with the essential confidence techniques needed to sell products/services, lead staff, connect with customers/collaborators, break negative cultural barriers and stereotypes and feel more capable, significant and influential among their business peers. Training will be held throughout the year in 5-6 small group training events and monthly one on one counseling.

Small business Training Programs

Navigating the System: We equip business owners with the skills necessary to successfully navigate the compliance systems required to effectively operate with maximum economic benefits. Our professional coaches work in real-time with our small business clients to serve as support advocates as they walk through processes that often feel too daunting or frustrating to tackle alone. This can include registering on City, County and State procurement sites in order to bid on contracting opportunities, applying for small business grants and loans, or simply checking to see if they are in compliance with basic business operational requirements.

Effective Business Networking: We connect small business owners with influencers and decision-makers and help them refine the business relationship skills necessary to compete at higher income and economic brackets. That includes making referrals and hosting introductory conversations to technical support partners and procurement managers in various private industries and government agencies. We also train them on how to participate on boards and commissions which help the small business owner grow their network to broader audiences while gaining valuable professional skills.

Business Check-Up: We work to increase the sophistication of our small business owners’ understanding of business basics by conducting one-on-one and small-group assessments. This includes helping business owners analyze and interpret the fundamental factors that they need in order to generate healthy business outcomes. We also produce and host free online Business Basic education training led by professional experts who have the foundational knowledge to keep small businesses up to code. This includes subject matters on managing employees, partnerships and contracts, lease negotiations, estate planning, finance organizing and funding and more. Our experts include attorneys, accountants, insurance providers, healthcare professionals and government representatives.

Convene Cohorts: We regularly host small business support groups where business owners can share and grow from each other’s experiences and the experiences of visiting industry experts. In the safety and security of trusted cohorts, business owners will build accountability and credibility by setting and reporting on monthly goals and sharing their challenges and lived solutions to overcoming everyday business barriers.

Build Business Confidence: For too long, small business owners have been plagued by questions surrounding our abilities and intrinsic worth.. Using skills training methodologies that address psychological impasse from historical mistreatment, we support our clients in developing the essential skills necessary to operate with the confidence needed to sell products/services, lead staff, connect with customers/collaborators, break negative cultural barriers and stereotypes and reinforce the perceptions of capability, significance and influence within themselves and those around them.