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Experts offer guidance to Clayton businesses

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Clayton State University Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Archway Partnership Project, and several business development groups are offering their services to help Clayton County merchants through the economic crisis.

Tomorrow, the Clayton State SBDC will host a free seminar to help current and potential business owners learn how to access credit to grow their businesses.

"The Credit Crunch: Understanding and Protecting Your Credit," will be offered on Nov. 11, from 10 a.m., to noon, inside room 272 of the Clayton State University Center. The seminar will address the misconceptions about capital lending, and will teach people how to leverage credit to their advantage.

Kyle Hensel, area director of the Clayton State SBDC, said the volatility of the current financial market requires business owners to be more prepared when applying for credit.

"In terms of the credit market, a lot of banks aren't lending as much in the past, so a small business owner needs to be more prepared and have a more prepared business plan," said Hensel. "The market is not as good as it was in the past ... a small business needs to really work smarter, not harder, in order to reach their market and be competitive.

"A lot of [business owners] are confused about how the credit process actually works," Hensel continued. "Their credit is mostly based on their personal credit, rather than how your business performs, so it is important to protect your personal credit. Unless you are an extremely large business, your personal credit is going to be a consideration."

Business consultants from Georgia State University, the University of Georgia, and Clayton State University will advise business owners on how to clear up any discrepancies in their personal credit, how to improve their credit score, cost saving tips, and the myths and realities about credit.

"The reality is that [your personal credit score] has to be in excellent shape in order to get any kind of funding," said Donna Kelsick, a business consultant with the Clayton State SBDC. "The myth is that alternative funding is available through grants. "Typically, there are really no grants for profit organizations," Kelsick said. "When you read the books by Matthew Lesko, it gives you the impression that there are tons of grants out there. Most of the money that you will be able to get is in the form of loans. They expect excellent credit and the requirements have become more stringent as the economy is failing."

Kelsick said the seminar will provide small businesses a blueprint for obtaining and maintaining capital funding.

"Small businesses are having a really hard time finding working capital," said Kelsick. We are trying to offer some information to them so they can repair their credit and understand their credit, so moving forward, they can find the funds they need."

For more information about the free seminar, call (678) 466-5100, or visit www.business.clayton.edu/sbdc.