The Big O Show Helps Small Businesses

It's the region's largest business to business trade show and provides one-stop networking and marketing.

The ' Big O! Show' is back, with more than 350 businesses showcasing a variety of goods and services at the CenturyLink Center.

The vast majority of the vendors are small businesses.

At the 'Big O! Show' where everyone tries to stand out, one person is hard to miss.

Meet Rapunzel, a-k-a Whitney Crowder.

Whitney started her own business, Magical Princess Parties, 18 months ago.

She rents out storybook characters hosting birthday and tea parties.

The idea came from her love of musicals and theater.

"I never thought I could incorporate it into a full time job but yeah it was a good business idea and I ran with it," Whitney said.

She's here making contacts, networking and finding a lot of good information.

"Just learning things like tax codes," she said. "I've always done my own taxes but its a totally different ballgame when you are a business rather than working somewhere as an employee."

Barbara Foster of the Small Business Association (SBA) says most of us are unprepared when we start our own business.

"The biggest problem that people have is they jump in to it," she said. "They start their business without having adequate resources, adequate working capital and three months later they're out of business."

Whitney wasn't afraid to gamble on her business idea, but tested the water first.

"I didn't quit my part-time job until May, so I held on to that as long as I could because the economic climate wasn't really all that good for me to jump right out of that and into this," she said. "I took my time with it when this was starting out it was very slow, one party a month, one party every other week, then it got up to one a week and now I'm up to about four or five a week."

Now, Whitney lives a storybook life through her own business.

"This is my full time job now and I'm loving it," she said.

Barbara Foster of the SBA has seen a noticeable upswing in start up businesses.

She says those starting a business should develop a business plan, including tax identification numbers and tax preparations services.

Foster says good research can help develop a company for the long haul.

Internet based businesses have increased as well as manufacturing and service industries in our area.


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