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Small business owners get support at Covation Center
May 2, 2018

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MUNCY - Last month the Muncy Professional Business Association (MPBA) introduced guest speaker, Stephan P. Brady director of the Covation Center in downtown Williamsport.

The Covation Center is a 501 c.3 organization designed by Brady to create an attractive working space for freelancers and start-up small businesses. The center is located in downtown Williamsport to accommodate events, workshops, meetings and "a platform for local businesses to grow."

Two years ago Brady was introduced to SBA's ScaleUP America program whose mission was to deliver targeted assistance to the small business owner and entrepreneur. Through his 15 year background and training in Air Force Administration, he was able to provide entrepreneurial workshops and training to Lycoming County. Brady was a teacher and researcher for Penn State at the campus in Harrisburg.

Two Muncy businesses who used his services include White Horse Graphics and Blessings by Design. The companies' objectives were tailored for growth potential and from a total of 48 start-ups in the region, Brady said, "Many are now doing great." As a mentor and collaborator, Brady has led them through the small business management series that included a business plan and finance plan for averaging annual revenues.

Assisting with funding sources and making connections with the Small Business Development Centers and Chamber of Commerce are some of the resources provided. "We offer cubicles, small desk areas and a community among small business owners," Brady informed the Muncy Professional Business Association (MPBA) members during their monthly meeting.

The co-working space has high speed internet with additional open work spaces and a safe working environment.

Brady stated an example of a freelance videographer who makes a frequent stop at the Covation Center while traveling through central Pennsylvania. It is conveniently located at 152 W. 4th Street.

Workshops also are offered to "help sell your business." Brady cited one previously held on marketing with Instagram and how a local business, Alabaster Coffee, became successful with this venue.

Another workshop offered is EXCEL training. A monthly membership fee will include all workshops. However, there are daily and weekly rates as well, and semi-annual participation rates. The next workshop will be on creating business websites to show features and characteristics that can make or break an online presence. It is scheduled for Tuesday, May 8 from 6-8 p.m.

Brady led the MPBA members through a process to help them understand the value of their business in order to sell it to the public. "Start with a one page worksheet," he recommended. "This will get you to start thinking." He pointed out three main problem areas for businesses to focus on. "Number one is to know the value of your customers. Understand them and know who they are." Next is to know the value of the product or service being provided for the various customers, and finally be able to manage cash flow. "Do not merge with personal funds," he advised. Having an emergency fund of about $1,000 is recommended along with paying off debt, starting from smallest to largest. "Debt is the biggest wealth stealer." Fifteen percent of income should go towards retirement. "Do a budget every month. This will help you grow."

Living in Trout Run Brady feels strongly about broadband service to rural areas. "It is my social mission to get fiber-optics and high speed internet to rural communities." With online education programs now available online, there are still many who cannot obtain the service. "There are single parents who want to go back to school," Brady said. "Health care is another challenging issueTele-medicine cares deeply about that." There are too many under-served areas, and more accountability is needed in rural areas. Sullivan County was given as an example. "In Williamsport, 27 percent of the population is below poverty. With poverty, we lose integrity and self-worth."

Brady said he has a "tremendous passion for working with people in the community, especially the underserved." His strong academic environment, seminars, mentoring, training and coaching has helped 150 businesses so far. "I want small businesses to grow and do well and take over the mall."

Live like you're dying," he said. "We want to make things happen now."

This week is National Small Business Week, celebrated from April 29 through May 5 of 2018.

The Covation Center is currently seeking a part time employees for the front desk staffing in the evening. If interested, contact Stephan Brady sbrady@covationcenter.org.

The next business meeting for the MBPA will be held Thursday, May 3rd at Orlando's in Muncy.

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