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Small and Home-Based Business Focus Group & Workshop listing

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Through a partnership between UMaine Cooperative Extension and the Ellsworth Noontime Rotary aspiring or existing business owners in Hancock County can participate in a facilitated brainstorming session with a team of experienced and knowledgeable local business leaders. The focus group will provide valuable feedback on an issue of importance to the business and help the business owner gain helpful insights and ideas for improving the business.

Examples of questions that could be addressed in the focus group include the following:

  • I am a sugar maple producer and have been selling my products wholesale. I want to expand my market to include specialty food retailers. How can I get a retailer to carry my products?
  • What things do I need to think about before hiring my first employee?
  • What factors should I consider before wholesaling my products?
  • What are the best options for financing business growth and expansion?
  • How do I expand my customer base to include younger consumers?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities for the success of my new business idea? How should I proceed?
  • I want to produce a food product and want to determine what the market will pay for it. What would you pay for my product and why?
  • Does my new brochure and logo convey the message I want to send?
  • My non-profit is developing a new program. What are the potential challenges and opportunities?

All types of business, including profit and not-or-profit, are encouraged to consider participating in a focus group.

For more information about the program contact the Hancock County Extension office at 667.8212 or 1.800.287.1479 (in Maine)



April 17, 2018

9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

Presenters:  Jim McConnon and Louis V. Bassano

Business planning is key to owning a successful business.  Participants will learn the key questions that need to be addressed about yourself, the business, the customers and the competition before you move ahead.  These and other planning issues will be discussed in the context of the business plan.



May 14, 2018

9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

Presenters: Jim McConnon, Louis V. Bassano

Pricing is the systematic determination of the “right” price for a product or service.  Setting any price is easy, but determining the price at which you can remain competitive and still make a profit is considerably more difficult.  Participants will learn about the kind of information needed to make good pricing decisions and how to apply pricing principles to their own circumstance.



May 25, 2018

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Presenter: Russell Patton, Chief Information Security Officer, Bangor Savings Bank

On an almost daily basis, new cyber threats and scams continue to dominate the news.  Participants will receive a vital overview of the types of real-life risks and emerging threats to small businesses.  Learn how to protect your business and customers with easy-to-implement security recommendations.



June 1, 2018

9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

Presenter:  Grace Yan Liu, Business Reference Librarian, University of Maine Fogler Library  (This workshop will be conducted via a Video Conference, with the speaker presenting from the Penobscot County office). 

Grace will introduce you to a wide range of market research resources in Fogler Library and beyond.  She will demonstrate both proprietary and free information sources that provide insights on industry, competitors, consumers and more. This information will assist you in making critical decisions in business and marketing.



July 2, 2018

Individuals participating in the workshop series are encouraged to schedule a

1 hour 15 minute appointment with Louis and Jim for help and advice on business plans or questions about next steps

Pre-registration is required.

Workshops will be held at the Hancock County Cooperative Extension office at 63 Boggy Brook Road, Ellsworth.   For more information and to register, contact us at 667.8212  or (in Maine) 1.800.287.1479