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Steps to success: Ninth Entrepreneur Academy starts April 2


NATCHEZ — The hardest step most often is the first step when it comes to starting a business, a local economic development officials says.

For the ninth year, Natchez Inc. and Alcorn State University will be helping local residents make that first step toward entrepreneurial success.

For eight-weeks, the Natchez Entrepreneur Academy will be offering important information, tips and techniques for those who are curious about how to start a business.

“Those first steps are often the hardest,” said Ruth Nichols, Special assistant to the president
for community and economic development at Alcorn State University.

Whether a participant has already started a business or is just curious about a business idea, Nichols said the Academy teaches new entrepreneurs about what it takes to make a business successful.

“We walk them through the process, have them think about whether a particular concept is for them or whether a business idea is the right fit for our community or our economy,” Nichols said.

Topics of the classes will include marketing, social media, insurance, legal considerations, taxes, financing, accounting, networking, and licensing and permits.

By the end of the eight-week-long program, participants will be expected to complete and present a working business plan.

Classes will start April 2 and run through May 21. They will be hosted every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the APEX Center on Franklin Street at Wall Street. The center also serves as an incubator for small businesses.

Cost to attend the academy is $40 for the entire course, Natchez Inc. Communications Manager Aimee Guido said.

A graduate of the Entrepreneur Academy, Guido said the course is open to anyone interested in making a business successful.

“We offer it to those who already have a business who may be trying to get organized and to those who may not fully have an idea and are trying to put their thoughts together,” Guido said.

As one who has attended many sessions, either as a participant or organizer, Guido said she tells those thinking about attending that she continues to learn something new at every academy.

“I have sat through nearly every one. In each class I hear something I never heard of or I am presented with an idea I haven’t thought of the way it was presented,” Guido said.

Guido and Nichols said the class is taught by local business people who have volunteered their time to help participants clear the hurdles they experienced when they started out.

“We bring in people from the area who are experts in their field,” Guido said.

“We are thankful that people volunteer their time to share what they know with students,” Nichols said.

After eight years, Nichols said several businesses in downtown Natchez got their motivation and inspiration from the academy.

“It is important to remember that the small business and the mom and pops are the backbone of our economy,” Nichols said. “With the entrepreneur Academy, we hope we can keep them on a course toward success.”

Those wishing to participate should call the Natchez Inc., office at 601-445-0288.