Business Posts

Coming in 2022: The New NaperLaunch Academy

Since 2016, NaperLaunch Academy, offered in conjunction with SCORE Fox Valley, has helped more than 100 entrepreneurs and small business owners develop fundamental business knowledge and learn the “lean startup process” to build a foundation for business success.

Today, we are excited to announce the newest iteration of the Academy. Beginning in January, the Academy curriculum will be presented in two separate workshop series: Starting a Business and Growing a Business.

These series will offer the same in-person, cohort-based format but with a shorter time commitment. Participants will be expected to attend all four 2-hour sessions in the series and complete 1-2 hours of weekly homework assignments that will be reviewed by their instructors and peers.

Designed for new entrepreneurs still developing their business idea, the Starting a Business series will cover business ideation, financial essentials for new startups, and key operational concerns for starting a business in Illinois. You’ll learn how to use a lean business model canvas to develop your business concept; determine funding strategies and sources, pricing models, and break-even analysis; and address key operational concerns including bookkeeping and accounting concepts, sales and income tax requirements, state and federal employment regulations, and insurance and risk management issues. Registration is now open for the series that begins Wednesday, January 19th.

For business owners who have completed the Starting a Business series or those who are looking to take their business to the next level, the Growing a Business series will cover the basics of writing both a business plan and a strategic marketing plan, as well as fundamental professional selling skills and how to use them in sales transactions. Registration opens February 1st for the series that begins Wednesday, February 23rd.

If you’re considering whether to start a business and want to learn more about the services provided by NaperLaunch and SCORE Fox Valley, we invite you to join us on Wednesday, January 5th at 6:30 pm at the Nichols branch of the Naperville Public Library for So, You Want to Start a Business?

In this introductory session, you’ll engage in a self-assessment of your entrepreneurial skills and consider some basic questions that are critical for every entrepreneur to answer at the start of their business journey. You’ll also learn more about NaperLaunch Academy from instructors and past participants. Registration is now open for this in-person workshop.

No matter where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, NaperLaunch can help you further your business goals. Visit our website or contact us to learn more.

Friday, December 10, 2021 - 09:15

3 Essential Financial Reports Small Business Owners Should Understand

Successful business owners use their financial statements to guide the management of their business. These statements show the flow of money into and out of the business, provide a snapshot of the business’s financial health, and guide the identification of trends within the operating activities. Without understanding them, it’s impossible for business owners to know if they are earning a profit or have the funds to keep up with their business expenses, as well as to plan for any future growth or opportunity.

No matter how big or small a business is, whether bookkeeping is done in-house or by an outside accountant, all entrepreneurs should be able to read and understand three main financial reports. Each one of these statements serves a different purpose, but taken together, they provide a clear view into a company’s operating activities.

  1. Balance Sheet

    The balance sheet is a snapshot of the financial position of the company at a given point in time. This includes assets (what the business owns), liabilities (what the business owes), and owner’s equity (the owner’s stake in the business). The balance sheet reveals the current status of the business as of that date. While a single balance sheet won’t necessarily aid in the discovery of trends, comparing balance sheets from equal points in time (eg, quarter to quarter or year to year) can show how the business is faring.

  2. Income Statement

    The income statement is the best view into a business’s bottom line, or net income, which is why it’s typically used to show lenders and investors whether the company has made or lost money during a given period. Income statements are also beneficial for the business owner because they show whether the company is generating a profit.

  3. Cash Flow Statement

    The cash flow statement shows each of the company’s incoming and outgoing transactions over a period of time to provide a picture of exactly what happened to the company’s cash during that period. It provides an overview of what cash has been going in and out of the business that didn’t make it to the income statement. This statement shows potential stakeholders how well a business manages its cash flow and pays off its debt obligations. A periodic cash flow statement also helps a business anticipate borrowing needs.

Together, these three financial statements provide a view of how money flows in and out of the business and the context needed to ask the right questions. Understanding them is an important step in becoming a smarter, more data-driven business owner.

To learn more about using your company’s financial statements to identify relevant and significant financial measures requiring management action, consider registering for our upcoming workshop on Reading & Understanding Your Financial Statements or scheduling a one-on-one appointment with a business librarian or NaperLaunch coach.

Monday, November 29, 2021 - 12:30

Market Research Tips for Startups

Market research is an essential step for any new startup. Identifying and understanding your customers and competitors will help you to determine your competitive advantage and help your business stand out.

In this blog post, we will discuss strategies for researching your customers and competitors using resources offered by the Naperville Public Library. These resources can be accessed by visiting one of the library’s three locations or from the NPL website with your library card number and PIN.

Customer Segments

It’s important to understand your customer base before you start up. To help you better understand opportunities and limitations for gaining customers, use library resources such as Reference Solutions and Gale Business: DemographicsNow to locate demographic data for your target market, including age, interests, income, and spending habits. In addition, interviewing potential customers is crucial for understanding the needs and pain points of your target market; this blog post includes some best practices.

In order to get a good sense of your market, the Small Business Administration suggests using the information you gather to answer the following questions:

  • Is there a desire for your product or service?
  • How many people would be interested in your offering?
  • What is the income range and employment rate?
  • Where do your customers live and where can your business reach?
  • How many similar options are already available to consumers?
  • What do potential customers pay for these alternatives?


In addition to understanding your customers, it’s important to know what your competitors are doing. Use library resources such as Reference Solutions, Gale Business Insights: Global, and Market Share Reporter (available via the Gale Directory Library database) to identify your competitors and learn about the market landscape. According to the SBA, your competitive analysis should assess the following characteristics:

  • Market share
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Your window of opportunity to enter the market
  • The importance of your target market to your competitors
  • Any barriers that may hinder you as you enter the market
  • Indirect or secondary competitors who may impact your success

For more information about this and other topics, consider registering for the NaperLaunch Academy workshop series or scheduling a one-on-one appointment with a business librarian or NaperLaunch coach.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - 09:00