Local entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses now have access to cutting-edge online business assistance available to only a select few regions in the country. The newly launched Virtual Business Advisor, a web-based economic development tool located on the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County’s website, is a free assessment and business assistance program for businesses of any size, in any industry. EDC-VC is hosting the pilot program through September, with the goal of making it a permanent offering.
“This program will be a huge asset for our local businesses,” said Ray Bowman, director of the SBDC of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. “VBA delivers immediate feedback with personalized performance improvement programs to help businesses grow and prosper, whether they’re entrepreneurs with an idea to existing small-businesses unable to attain their desired profitability and growth.
Users start with a short self-assessment, which results in a customized profile that can be used as an operational plan. Information includes a measurement of the business person’s perceived capabilities, strength of the business idea and determination of the business model’s stability.
After completing the assessments, a report identifies personal and company strengths and weaknesses,connects users to suggestions and available resources to address their unique needs. It offers strategies and links to relevant organizations, training courses and online materials that could help the business improve, particularly in the areas with identified weaknesses.
Resources are listed in priority order and include topics such as assessing competition, understanding financial management, identifying obstacles, planning for unforeseen circumstances, business planning skills, product research and marketing.
Additional assistance is available through EDC-VC’s Small Business Development Center.
Developed by QLBS in New Zealand, the cloud-based Quimono Virtual Business Advisor is a relatively new tool to the U.S. Currently, the only other U.S. sites are San Jose, Calif., and Ann Arbor, Mich.
Guest post by:
Ray Bowman MS. CGBP
Director, Ventura Santa Barbara
Small Business Development Center
and 805connect Partner