Business News for January 7, 2021
Today's message includes the following news, best practices, and online courses:

News and Best Practices:
  • $4M Proposed for Dane County Grant Program
  • Winter Storm Preparedness for Your Business
  • Free Wisconsin Resource Helps you Navigate Health Insurance
  • Understanding More About Commercial Property Insurance
  • SBA Ascent Learning Platform Announced
  • Reminder: Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest
Upcoming Learning Opportunities:
  • Spring 2021 SBDC Class Catalog Now Available
  • Biz Smart Sprint
  • Free Webinar: Online Retail Marketing for Small Businesses
Business News & Best Practices
$4M Proposed for Dane County Grant Program
Grant funding would support small businesses hit by the pandemic
Dane Buy Local has proposed to provide $4 million in unallocated CARES Act funding to small businesses in Dane County through the county's Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program. This program is operated in partnership with Dane Buy Local. 

Applications will be available as early as Friday, although funds will not be released until the County Board votes to approve the allocation within the next few weeks - after the resolution works through the county’s Health and Human Needs Committee and the Personnel and Finance Committee.

To apply for the new round of grants, a business must be for-profit, independently owned, headquartered in Dane County and have no more than 50 employees. The program currently projects an average grant amount of $10,000.

Winter Storm Preparedness for Your Business
Excerpted from the SBA blog
Winter weather can provide unique challenges for small businesses. As with everything, the best step to take is to be prepared. Here are a few tips:

  • Check your insurance coverage for protection against winter hazards
  • Add to your business’ disaster supply kit, including items like rock salt to melt ice on driveways, sand to improve traction, and snow shovels or other snow removal equipment.
  • Establish an emergency communications plan. Make sure your staff knows how everyone will communicate before, during, and after a weather disaster. Keep an updated list of employee, vendor, and client contact information off-site for easy access during an emergency. Names and phone numbers of your heating contractor, plumber, fire department, insurance agent, and building owner should also be easily accessible.
  • Sign up for real-time weather alerts through the FEMA App, which provides National Weather Service alerts, emergency safety tips for more than 20 types of disasters, and locations for open emergency shelters and disaster recovery centers in your area.

Read the full article on the SBA blog
Covering Wisconsin Provides Free Health Insurance Information
If you are self-employed or a small business owner, understanding insurance options can be confusing or intimidating. That's why nonprofit Covering Wisconsin helps helps people find affordable health insurance based on their budget and health needs.

Commercial Property Insurance
from the ASBDC blog
Early in the pandemic, many business owners raised questions about how their commercial property insurance might cover COVID-19 and, later, property damage during political protest or winter storms.

Commercial property insurance works similarly to home insurance in order to protect any business property you may own from events like theft, fire, vandalism, and storms. Want to learn more about commercial property insurance? Read the full ASBDC post.
Ascent Learning Platform Announced
New SBA online resource designed for women entrepreneurs
The SBA has introduced Ascent, a digital learning platform for women small business owners. The content is targeted to help female entrepreneurs scale their existing business. All content is backed by research on the needs of empowering women business owners and female entrepreneurs.

Ascent is divided into major topics called Journeys, which cover: disaster & economic recovery, strategic marketing, employees, financial strategy, and access to capital. Each Journey includes Excursions, which dive more deeply into the topic.

Users can access the platform through registered accounts, which help track progress, or view information more generally with guest access
Reminder: Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest
Accepting Applications through January 31, 2021
The mission of the contest is to encourage entrepreneurs in the startup stage of tech-based businesses in Wisconsin. Participants compete for cash and in-kind prizes and can receive constructive feedback on their business plans.

Who is eligible to participate?
Individuals, teams or companies are eligible if they:
  • Are Wisconsin residents 18 years old or older, and who have a business plan that employs or leverages technology. Examples of technology include an eCommerce platform for a traditional business, a mobile application, a life sciences innovation or an advanced manufacturing process or system.
  • Are based in Wisconsin and/or plan to locate a business in Wisconsin.
  • Have not received private equity funding for an idea in its current form.

Upcoming Virtual Learning Opportunities
Spring 2021 SBDC Class Catalog Now Available
Lots of New Classes!
Our Spring 2021 SBDC Class catalog is here! This semester's curriculum includes a variety of new courses and instructors covering topics like:
  • Series: Learning to Lead
  • HR Basics for non HR Professionals 
  • Hire Badgers: Bring Two Way Value to a Student Work Experience 
  • Connecting the Dots to Align your Business Strategy
  • Series: Cultivate Your Teams’ Productivity in the Time of COVID
  • Understanding Your Investment: Building Value in Your Business 
  • Buy, Build or Sell: Deciding Next steps for Your Business 

View these and all of our upcoming classes to learn more, register, and meet a few of our featured clients!
Biz Smart Sprint Can Help You Work Toward Your Business Goals!
Starts February 11, 2021
Biz Smart Sprint, a 6-week live virtual course that you can complete outside of your workday, will help you explore the basics and build on your business with actionable topics:

  • Learning how to think about your business holistically using the Business Model Canvas
  • Identifying your key customers and market
  • Building awareness of legal and operational considerations to help your business build a successful foundation from the start
  • Developing financial literacy by understanding the building blocks

Whether you are starting a brand-new business or looking to bring structure to the work you have already completed, Biz Smart Sprint is a great resource to set you on the right track. In addition, you will receive client access to GrowthWheel, which provides additional tools and worksheets to capture your thoughts in one place.
Free Webinar: Online Retail Marketing for Small Businesses
hosted by SBDC Client Emily Ruyle of WodBottom
To stay competitive during the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses have had to figure out how to get online and bring visibility to their products. Emily Ruyle, of online retailer WodBottom, will discuss strategies small businesses can use to maximize their online presence, reach their customer segments and promote their products.

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the UW-Madison SBDC office at or 608-263-2221 to request accommodations.

The Wisconsin SBDC Network is a proud part of the Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship in the University of Wisconsin System. It is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.