Seminar focuses on start-ups
Cedarburg Public Library sponsors session on readily available resources

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Correspondent

March 3, 2015

CEDARBURG — Business start-ups are typically long on great ideas and short on cash flow. What many people don’t know is that your local library can be a great source of free information in creating those initial business plans.

Nancy Spidel knows that first hand. When she and her husband started their Nebraska-based restoration business eight years ago, they found themselves in a pretty typical situation.

“We had to create a business plan so we could apply for an SBA loan,” she said. “We had no idea what to do. We knew the information that we needed to find, we just didn’t know how to get it.”

Spidel ended up using the phone book and Googling a lot of the information, but there is a much better – and free – way for local businesses to find it now.

The Cedarburg Public Library will be hosting a visit from Spidel on Tuesday, March 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. She will demonstrate how business can use RefUSA, a database available free to library patrons, to build a business plan.

“All you need is a library card to use it,” said Spidel, who also serves as an executive for Infogroup, the provider of the database.

“This type of marketing research typically costs around 10 cents a record, and once you know how to use the database, you can really use it to your advantage.”

Attendees will learn how to use RefUSA to obtain information for creating a business plan for obtaining new business funding, generate a demographic summary of community buying behaviors and learn how to market to a target demographic, including how to find customers and increasing a return on any marketing investment.

Spidel has personally used the database in her own business, which has helped to target the right demographic for its services.

“This database, and its use by libraries, is really designed to help communities,” she said. “It’s great for small business and economic development efforts. For example, we know that in Cedarburg, 80 percent of businesses are quite small, with between one to four employees. But those are the businesses that fuel your economy.”

The database allows business users to sort based on ZIP code and demographic information.

“For example, I’ve used the database to search out owners of million-dollar homes in the Omaha, Neb., area, and we now know that there are only 1,600,” she said. “But that allowed us to target our mailing directly to those homeowners, which is a great target market for our restoration services.”

The presentation is free and open to the public.

For more information or to register, contact the Cedarburg Public Library at 375-7640.