IDEA Food Accelerator is Now Accepting Applications!

Are you a small food manufacturer dreaming of the idea of expanding your operations or venturing into the exporting world?

The Kutztown University Small Business Development Center, Jump Start Incubator and the Latino Business Resource Center are excited to announce the launch of the application contest for a food manufacturing grant for small businesses that are looking to grow one of their signature products. This application contest is open to minority and women-owned businesses in the Greater Reading area with sales of $50,000 or more that operate in any form of food manufacturing and distribution or own a restaurant and would like to market an original signature product from their restaurant.

The Kutztown University Small Business Development Center and its associated Jump Start Incubator and Latino Business Resource Center won a $50,000 grant in early September through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund competition. As a result of the grant, the three organizations have been developing the IDEA Food Accelerator program that allows established food companies to scale more efficiently. Chosen participants of the program will receive customized mentorship and training in innovation and creativity in the food industry, product development, technology trends, packaging and labeling, package design, trade shows, nutrition, international trade and wholesale distribution.  Specialized consultants will also be available to support the growth of the business. The applicant will have the opportunity to intensively work on their product development for a three month period, so all winners must be ready to advance in their product development as soon as they are chosen.

Applications can be filled out visiting: https://www.f6s.com/ideafoodaccelerator2015#/apply. All applications must be received by January 11, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST. Applicant must meet the criteria set forth in the contest rules to be eligible to be considered for the award. 10 winners will be announced at the end of January. If you are interested in knowing more about the program please contact Carolina Martinez at martinez@kutztown.edu

Creating a Mobile-friendly Business Website

Since the turn of the century, the number of tablets and other mobile devices has sky-rocketed, making it increasingly important for business owners to make their websites compliant with devices ranging from smart phones to large flat screen televisions.

If you test your business website on multiple smart phones and tablets you’ll probably notice the need for design changes. Google’s GoMoMeter is a simple and free tool you can use right in your computer browser that allows you to input your web address to see how your business website appears on a smartphone. It also highlights areas that can be adjusted in order to improve your customers’ experience. Smartphones aren’t the only device that small business owners need to worry about, however. Janine Warner, a globally recognized digital design and internet trends consultant, mentions several ways to improve the design of your website as seen on all mobile devices in a recent Entrepreneur article titled: “How to Make Your Website More Mobile-Friendly.”

Simplify your site design: At the least, it’s recommended that your website has a simple page design, large font sizes, and large touchable buttons in order to display well on a mobile device. Putting critical information above the fold (the area you can see without having to scroll) is also a great way to make your website more mobile-friendly.

Create a mobile version of your site: An alternative to the previous suggestion, which involves simplifying your website’s current design, is to simply create a mobile version of your website. This allows you to keep your current website the way it is while also providing a more simplified mobile version of your website. There are several drawbacks to this method, however. First, if your mobile site has a second URL (such as one with a .m subdomain) search engines might not find it. There could also be additional costs that go into creating a mobile version of your website, though more free website builders are now offering mobile templates to design these for free or low cost.

Consider using a responsive design template: Going along with the last statement, many site builders such as WordPress and GoDaddy are now offering responsive designs from which to build your website. Responsive web design means that your website simply adapts and readjusts according to the dimensions of the device it’s being viewed on. The content stays the same but the layout changes – it might be in 3 columns on a desktop and 1 on a smartphone, for example. It will automatically adjust to suit the screen. Using a responsive design does have a few drawbacks, including longer load times.

Depending on your budget and your own knowledge of web design will determine which method will work best for your small business. No matter which method you choose, Janine Warner always recommends giving your audience quick and easy access to important information on your website: “Put your contact information front and center, give them links to maps and directions, and then add video or other amusements to keep them on your site for as long as they want to stay.”

To read the full article visit: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226575#ixzz2VuzZtzGC

Women-Owned Businesses on the Rise: How to Succeed as a Female Entrepreneur

In the past 15 years, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 54% in the United States. Today, women own 30% (8.3 million) of U.S. companies and generate $1.3 trillion a year in sales. The trend toward women-owned businesses has seen a rise in recent years, as the idea presents a significant opportunity for many women looking to create their own work/life balance that is hard to achieve elsewhere.

Female business owners face their own set of hurdles that make establishing and growing a business particularly challenging. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), the majority of women rely on personal savings as their main source of business funding and often don’t apply for business credit because they believe they will be turned down. In addition, many women set themselves up for obstacles simply because they feel they need to handle every aspect of their business by themselves, rather than learning tips on how to more effectively manage their business.

To help female business owners to overcome these obstacles and succeed in starting and running their own business, there are a variety of free and low-cost resources available to women looking to start their own business. Women can view the SBA’s Women-Owned Business Guide for free information about writing business plans, estimating startup costs, selling to the government and more.

In addition to online tools, there are also a variety of organizations that can help women to succeed in their area of business by providing mentoring throughout the challenging stages of business ownership. To see a list of these organizations, visit http://www.sba.gov/content/steps-finding-mentor