Business Basics

UCEDC’s training staff offers a variety of free business/financial literacy workshops at our headquarters in Cranford and throughout New Jersey in partnership with other agencies and organizations that share our commitment to small business growth.

Look for the following programs and other UCEDC workshops on our training calendar or use the Search function  at the top of the page.

Starting Strong



Specialized Topics

Basics of Financing Your Business

Access to capital is critical to many small businesses, yet most owners don’t understand how to determine what they qualify for, what money is available to them and the roadblocks they may face obtaining financing.  This workshop was created to address these issues as well as inform business owners of what’s expected of them in obtaining capital.  During the workshop, we’ll focus on the following areas:

Financing options available to small businesses
What lenders look for
Matching the right financing program to your needs
How to prepare for a meeting with a lender
Identify issues that will “kill” your deal

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Basics of Intellectual Property for Small Businesses and Start-Ups

You may not realize it, but if you own a business (or are thinking of starting one), you have (or will have) intellectual property assets that need legal protection!  Do you have a business name or brand?  How about trade secrets such as price lists, customer lists, supplier lists, recipes, etc.?  Too often, business owners do nothing to protect these assets and then suffer the consequences when they are lost or stolen.   Equally damaging can be your ignorance of someone else’s intellectual property rights, resulting in the dreaded cease and desist letter (or worse!).  During this workshop, we’ll focus on the following areas:

      • What is intellectual property? (i.e., trade secrets, trademarks, patents and copyrights)
      • How to protect your intellectual property at the state and federal level
      • The steps you need to take to register copyrights and trademarks
      • How not to infringe upon the property rights of other businesses

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Digital Marketing and Social Media

This introductory workshop addresses the basics of harnessing the power of digital, within the context of your organization’s marketing strategy.  Digital marketing is an important part of your promotional mix, and social media platforms are valuable tools to use in your marketing communications strategy.  In this workshop, we’ll cover:

  • Using your website to build a foundation for communicating content
  • Integrating digital marketing into your overall promotions
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Which social media platforms are best for your business

You will gain a fundamental understanding of the core principles of digital marketing, and learn to balance digital techniques with traditional methods, for greater effectiveness.

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Entrepreneurship Essentials

Starting a small business is a rewarding but risky proposition.  Before you hang the “Open for Business” sign or get in too deep in your new venture, you should take an honest look at your preparedness to succeed.

This free workshop, a preview of our Entrepreneurship 101 course, will guide you through the assessment process and introduce you to the tools you’ll need to start and grow your business.  You’ll be better prepared to: 

  • Determine if you have the traits necessary to be a business owner
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses and how they fit with business ownership
  • Assess the feasibility of your business idea within your targeted market
  • Conduct market research, business planning, and financial projection

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Introduction to Franchising

Are you considering entrepreneurship as a career option, but want a proven business model to get your goals more quickly and safer?  Would you like to run a business of your own that will provide greater autonomy and independence, but are not sure how to find, or choose, the right business for you?  This workshop will provide you with a comprehensive view of the franchising process, allowing you to determine if franchising will help you achieve your personal, professional and financial goals.  We’ll cover

      • Common myths and truths about franchising – it’s not just food and retail
      • Government regulations for franchises
      • The importance of knowing your personal goals and objectives before taking the plunge
      • How to finance your business
      • Links to resources available before, during and after your selection process

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Legal Agreements & Documents

Put It In Writing! In this workshop, you’ll learn ways to avoid conflicts and lawsuits when running your small business. Knowing what and how to put it in writing will protect you, your employees, and your business. We’ll show you some key clauses to put into your agreements and teach you how to suggest compromises so your business is not at a disadvantage. These tips will help you leverage relationships into more successful dealings with other companies in the future.

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Marketing Essentials for Small Business

This workshop serves as an introduction to the basic principles of marketing practices, and the application of these practices, especially for small businesses in local markets.  We’ll define marketing terminology and the framework for successful marketing strategy.  Specific focus will be on:

              • The elements of the marketing mix: the “4Ps of marketing” (Product, Price, Place, Promotion)
              • The importance of conducting a SWOT analysis
              • Identifying your customer profile and carrying out target marketing
              • Making effective local advertising choices, including social media

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Marketing Research Tools for Small Business

In this workshop, you’ll gain a practical understanding of marketing research techniques and tools.  You’ll learn how to develop a marketing strategy by utilizing free resources to access customer demographics, spending habits, and possible trends in your industry.  There will be particular emphasis on how to target your best potential customers and minimize wasted exposure, helping you deliver your products and services cost effectively.

      • Discover how to  put ReferenceUSA and DemographicsNOW to work for you
      • Learn how business librarians can help you with your specific research needs
      • Leave with tangible market research skills you can put into practice immediately

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Quickbooks Basics

One of the most important, yet frequently overlooked components for most business owners is recordkeeping.  Quickbooks Basics is an introductory workshop focused on the needs of businesses who manage their own financial records.  This informative workshop walks participants through the ground level stages of “bookkeeping.”  During the workshop, we’ll focus on the following areas:

          • The effective use of an accounting system
          • How to set up your company in Quickbooks
          • Adding customers, vendors and employees to your records
          • How to produce accurate and timely reports to analyze your company’s performance

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Pricing for Small Business Profitability

One of the most difficult decisions business owners face is how much to charge for their product or service. Understanding which price points motivate or dissuade consumers from purchasing is key to setting the right price.  During this workshop, we will focus on the following:

          • Types of pricing strategies
          • Finding your break-even price
          • Determining cost structure
          • Effect of pricing on your marketing efforts

The workshop includes an interactive activity that helps participants to determine their business’s cost structure and how it relates to their current pricing.

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Projecting Financial Results

Financial projections are an important part of managing your business. Projecting financial results are critical in preparing your business plan and in determining if the business will be financially sustainable. Similar to creating a budget, financial projections are a way to forecast future revenue and expenses for your business.

In this workshop, we’ll focus on Sales Projections, Expense Projections, and responsibly Projecting Your Cash Flow.

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Starting a Business in New Jersey

The decision to start a business is an exciting time for any entrepreneur.  However, there are many steps you’ll need to take to protect yourself from potential liability, legal and tax issues.  This workshop is designed to guide you through the mechanics of starting your business and make sure you get off on the right foot. In this workshop, we’ll cover:

          • The pros and cons of different legal business structures
          • How to name and register your business
          • What taxes apply to your business and how to make sure you’re set up to file them
          • What’s required of your business if you have employees
          • The insurance you’re required to have to operate in New Jersey

Give your business the best chance to succeed by getting started the right way.

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Understanding Your Financial Statements

Understanding your small business’s financial performance is fundamental to knowing if the business is meeting your financial goals or if changes are needed in the way you do business. We’ll use realistic sample financial statements to illustrate the concepts we are discussing. Participants are also encouraged to bring their existing financial information to discuss or evaluate in class.  During the workshop, we’ll focus on the following:

          • Accounting systems – we’ll help you identify the benefits of timely and accurate financial information and how a system can be put in place.
          • Basic financial statements – we’ll identify the basic financial statements that are common to all businesses and what they mean.
          • Interpreting financial information – we’ll guide you through the process, including setting benchmarks for business performance.
          • Making key business decision – you’ll learn how to use financial information to make key business decisions such as when to hire additional employees, when to adjust pricing, or how to reduce excess costs.

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Your Credit and You

Personal credit plays an important role in your business. Small or start-up businesses have not had the chance to establish business credit, so their access to capital is tied directly to the credit of the owners. In this workshop, we’ll cover:

          • What are credit scores
          • Credit myths
          • How are credit scores calculated
          • Changing your credit score
          • What types of financing are available
          • What lenders look for

In addition to these items, we’ll distribute a sample credit report to the participants and go through the details to give them a hands-on experience of interpreting a credit report.

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Writing a Business Plan

Developing a business plan is one of the most important challenges you will face as an entrepreneur. The process of developing a good business plan requires an understanding and appreciation for the tools required to do it right. This workshop was developed to guide you through that process and give you a hands-on systematic way to develop an outline, investigate and evaluate the resources and create a draft of your own business plan. In this workshop, we’ll show you how to: we’ll cover:

          • Research and analyze the individual components needed for a business plan
          • Apply skills to create a business plan for different audiences, including investors and banks
          • Explain the purpose and future of your business in easy to understand terms
          • Describe your marketing, sales, and planning strategies and more

Learn how your finished plan should look in this workshop!

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These programs are funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the US Small Business Administration.