Community Corner: Sparkletone Dry Cleaning

sparkletoneThis month’s community corner feature is Sparkletone Dry Cleaning.   A staple in our community for many years, Sparkletone offers dependable service and affordable prices.

Sparkletone knows how to take the time and extra care needed to assure that you receive the highest quality in dry cleaning. Their technicians are experienced in stain removal and servicing a wide array of garment types; such as clothing, household items, wedding gown preservation and more.  They also offer same day services!

Don’t let a little construction on State street keep you from using their wonderful services!

Sparkletone Dry Cleaning
238 E State St,
West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 743-2007

Community Corner: Cat Hospital

cat hospitalGreater Lafayette Cat Hospital is a well-established, full-service, feline veterinary hospital providing comprehensive medical, surgical and dental care. Our community is lucky to have a Board Certified Feline Specialist, one of only two such specialists in the state of Indiana. They provide a broad spectrum of diagnostic procedures offering both in-house testing and the use of outside laboratories.

Got a furry feline friend?  Check out the Cat Hospital, where their goal is to not only provide the ultimate in medical and surgical care, but also to provide an atmosphere that is soothing and friendly to cats and their owners. Typical veterinary hospitals can be stressful for cats because of the presence of barking dogs.   Lafayette Community Bank is a proud business partner with Dr. Janine Siebert and her staff.

Cat Hospital
995 S. Creasy Lane
Lafayette, IN 47905
Phone: (765) 449-4195

Community Corner: Buckles Feed Depot and Pet Supply

Buckles
Community Corner allows all of us at Lafayette Community Bank to shine a spotlight on many of our business partners in the community.  Since 1977, Buckles Feed Depot and Pet Supply has provided Lafayette pet owners with quality products. From exotic lizards and snakes, to fuzzy rabbits and hamsters, Buckles has a wide variety of animals to choose from. Visit Buckles and bring home a new furry friend, or one that slithers, today!

220 S 4th St, Lafayette, IN 47901

Community Corner : Thompson Brothers Auto Sales

Thompson Brothers.pngThompson Brothers Auto Sales is a used car dealership run by Dave and John Thompson off of 52 in Lafayette. Thompson Brothers is a business partner with Lafayette Community Bank and they have been in business for 25 years, since they opened in 1990. They serve our community by offering quality, used vehicles with easy payment plans.

We are happy to partner with a company that believes “in treating others in a way that you would like to be treated.” Their mission for serving the community and offering affordable vehicles are just a few reasons you should stop by Thompson Brothers the next time you are in the market for a new vehicle.

Thompson Brothers
2207 Concord Rd.
Lafayette, IN 47909
765.474.7530

How do I improve my credit score?

credit-scoreThis little three digit number can really affect your budget. Lenders use this score to determine the terms of credit they may extend to you. Auto and homeowner’s insurance companies, and phone companies use credit scores to decide to do business with you.   The higher the credit score the lower your costs may be. The credit score is also called the FICO score after the company, Fair Isaacs Corporation, which developed the system of analyzing the information contained in your credit report.   The information analyzed includes your payment history, the number of delinquent debts you may have, your total existing debt, and the length of time you may have had the accounts opened.

If you want to improve your score, your journey begins with obtaining a copy of your credit report. Review the report for accuracy and immediately dispute the errors. Get current on all of your accounts and stay current on all your accounts. Past due amounts and late payments negatively affect your score. Pay down revolving accounts such as credit cards so that the balance of the account is no more than 30% of the credit limit. Do not close inactive accounts. Do not pay for your credit report (you are entitled to one free each year) and do not pay someone else to improve your credit score for you. Do visit www.consumer.ftc.gov and click on the “Money and Credit” tab. You will find instructions on how to obtain your free report and how to dispute any errors you find.   There is a wealth of information on this consumer protection site that can help you improve your credit score.

Community Corner: Wintek Corporation

Wintek & Fiber Hotel 05 15 14-crop

In business since 1973, Wintek Corporation is the only locally owned and operated fiber optic service provider in Tippecanoe County. They deliver high-speed, dedicated fiber optic Internet and data services to businesses in Lafayette, West Lafayette, and surrounding areas. Owners Travis Bailey, Oliver Beers, and their 12 employees are proud of their customer-focused, local support that allows them to deliver cutting-edge services and a no gimmicks approach to sales.

Lafayette Community Bank has worked with Wintek for the last several years to finance many of their large fiber optic investments that bring high-speed connectivity to our area. We can thank them for providing free Internet service for the downtown public Wi-Fi network that is managed by the City of Lafayette, and for supporting many other non-profits and events with their discounted rates, creativity and innovation. We are proud of this company’s commitment to making our community a great place to live, work and play.

Things you need to know when starting a business

open-sign-2 First things first. We talk about our “Gross Domestic Product” or GDP. That is the total dollar value of all the goods and services produced by any country. In the United States our 2013 GDP came in at $16.8 Trillion. Not bad at all, and the good news is its growing. Small businesses contribute about 46% of all non-farm GDP in the United States. So it sounds like small business is the place to be in the United States. The United States is the land of opportunity, but there a few things all prospective business owners should know. Nationally, Bloomberg reports that 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first 18-months.   So, you have a 20% chance of being successful, the question is “What can I do to improve my chances for success?”

  • Know your prospective customer. What do they want, how do they want it, where do they want it. What motivates them to buy? Are they ready, willing and able to pay for what you are selling? The more prospective customers you talk to the better. You can interview friends and family, but you will not always get honest answers because they will not want to disappoint you. Talk to other small business owners, attorneys, and accountants—people you may not even know. Survey them. Collect honest opinions and feedback, you may find that you are trying to sell something or service that people may not be interested in or may already have, and therefore reluctant to change.
  • Understand your market. Is there market demand for my product or service? Is it consumable is the demand constant?   Who is the competition, where is the competition?   How big is the market, what is the opportunity? If you are trying to sell high-efficiency florescent light bulbs delivered to your door, consider what are the options, who else sells them online, or in store? How long does a high-efficiency light bulb last? Can I offer them at a comparable or even better price? Will the market pay what I am asking?
  • Product or Service Differentiation is Key. If your business is just like everybody else’s you are not going to attract attention or customers. More than likely you are going to have competition. If you do something just like everyone else, there is no incentive to try your brand, product or service. Give them a reason to try your business and when you have them give them a compelling reason to stay.

 

  • Know your value proposition. You should know this by heart and be able to tell customers what it is, easily and succinctly. If you have trouble telling customers what this is, take this as a sign. Think about branding campaigns of the past and how well they work. “There’s a lot riding on your tires.” This is a famous Michelin ad featuring a child wrapped by a tire. Michelin tires are really expensive when compared to other brands, but no one puts a price on the safety of their kids. Michelin pulls that emotional cord and it works. The new Subaru ads are the same way. The cars are well known for safety. In their ads today they show the cars being passed down to young drivers who have been protected by that very car. Or they have ads showing the car after an accident and the family is fine. Again they are making an emotional appeal. Subaru’s are not inexpensive cars and they are built really well. People don’t mind paying for quality and safety. The key is knowing what motivates people to buy the product or service you are offering.

 

  • Prepare a business plan. This is imperative. #1., #2., #3., and #4., all need to be included. You must also know exactly how much it’s going to cost to start the business and how you plan to fund it. In banking it’s called Sources and Uses. In other words, what are my sources of funding and what will the funds be used for? You also need to include a projection of revenue and expenses by month for the next 3-to 5-years.   Include all the assumptions you used to construct the projection. Tie the revenue back to: how many will I sell? Identify the market and how much of it you plan to take. Illustrate the number potential customers and how you reached that number. Talk about pricing and how price was set. Tie the cost of goods sold back to vendors and suppliers, and use confirmed bids and prices. Back up all your expenses with data, i.e., how much rent, utilities, insurance, advertising, utilities, legal, wages, etc., all cost and go over your plan with trusted advisors. SCORE is a great place to start and they are a part of our local Chamber of Commerce. You can also talk to bankers, accountants, attorneys or other business owners you may know.
  • Capital: This came up in #5. It’s very difficult to start a business without capital. It’s equally hard to sustain a business with inadequate capital. In most cases, the new business owner must look to their own savings, family or friends for the “seed capital” to start their business. Bankers have a tendency to look for businesses that have a demonstrated track record. Simply put, bankers look for the existence and sustainability of revenue stream that sufficiently covers all expenses plus any required debt payments. The best time to develop a capital plan is before serving notice to your current employer and launching your new business.

There is much to think about and consider! Entrepreneurs with a vision and a plan started all businesses at some point and time—we see them all over our community.   Recently we launched a new business incubator known as “Match Box” to help promote the exchange of ideas and approaches so that a wider audience might benefit.   In summary, new small businesses are a key driver of our local and national economy. We welcome small business owners at Lafayette Community Bank, we strongly believe in investing right here in Tippecanoe County. Come and see us today or give us a call!