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Center encourages dreams, discovery at conference

Community learns about small-business growth, opportunities at event

Posted: May 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Jason Price speaks at the fifth annual Dream & Discover Conference, which was held in the University Center at College of the Canyons on Thursday.

Jill Phillips Cox has run Jill’s Cake Creations on Bouquet Canyon Road for 35 years — but there’s still plenty for her to learn about running a business, she said.

So Phillips Cox decided to join the other 175 entrepreneurs and students at the Dream & Discover Conference, presented Thursday by the Small Business Development Center at the College of the Canyons.

The fifth annual conference was funded through grants from the Business & Entrepreneurship Center at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, the Economic & Workforce Development Program and the Small Business Jobs Act.

Participants attended breakout sessions on branding, restaurants, entertainment, business plans and pitching to investors.

Attendees also listened to two main speakers — Jorge Lopez, president of J & M Entertainment Event Production and Jason
Price, training specialist for Yahoo!/Microsoft Search Alliance.

Lopez spoke about his journey in the entrepreneur realm and told the group that particularly in this economy, it’s important to be willing to adapt. Entrepreneurs must know their target customers’ needs.

“Business has never been as tough as it’s been in the last two years,” Phillips Cox said at the conference.
Lopez “told us that business will always be up and down; it’s just about being prepared for it,” she said.

Before a final set of breakout sessions, Price presented three courses of action that entrepreneurs need to take within the next year to capitalize on the explosive mobile-phone market in terms of marketing and customer experience.

First, he explained the importance of optimizing your company’s website for mobile use, which entails designing a version of your website specifically for mobile.

Forty-four percent of all internet users have a smartphone, Price said, and it’s important that when a customer visits your website on their smartphone that the website allows them to easily browse and potentially buy or use your product right on their phone.

Otherwise, you can lose them as a potential customer.

Second, he outlined newer, more affordable avenues online to target certain demographics, such as the TV and movie streaming website Hulu, online sports streaming and Spotify, an online music player.

Social media is a huge asset to entrepreneurs, Price said, as long as they find ways to measure the success of their social media presence.

Finally,  all entrepreneurs must develop content for their websites as a form of marketing and customer service — videos, blogs, ebooks and emails are all ways to create informative and useful content for customers while selling yourself, Price said.

What Phillips Cox took from the sessions was the need for her to sit down and set new, specific, measurable goals for the bakery.

The conference showed the importance of “reinventing” yourself and really questioning why you are running the business a certain way. 

“Set your mind to it and do it,” she said. “No excuses.”


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