Retreat looks to cover emerging business trends

MIDDLETOWN – The Lord Fairfax Community College Small Business Development Center aims to educate the region about emerging trends at its 5th annual Small Business Development Retreat on Oct. 22.

James Kraft, the center’s director, said that this year’s retreat will feature 16 programs covering a wide variety of topics,  from smartphone applications to uses of virtual reality as well as crowd funding for start-ups.

“You can actually utilize a smartphone now for credit card financing and credit card processing and the whole nine yards,” Kraft said. “A lot of businesses now are starting to realize that you really can’t get by without one of those (apps).”

The use of crowd sourcing or Kickstarter campaigns will be a topic of discussion for the retreat’s keynote speaker, Michael Shuman, a nationally recognized economist and one of the leaders in the crowd sourcing movement.

Kraft said that a few businesses within the region have employed crowd funding to help cover start-up costs, but that most use it as a means to launch a new product.

“It’s not really good for starting a bakery or something like that, but it’s good for starting a new product that you can offer,” Kraft said. “You have to offer them something in return for their money.”

Kraft added, “It’s an interesting phenomena … if you look at Kickstarter or some of those programs to see some of these things that are funded and how fast and how quickly they get funded.”

The retreat will also focus on an emerging product in the business world called GrowthWheel – which can purportedly help businesses organize for the future (

“(GrowthWheel) looks at all aspects of your business, and then it has a wheel … and you look at the financing, you look at the organization, you look at the employees … and then you rate each one,” Kraft said.

Kraft added that the program then has worksheets that the business can fill out to gauge and strategize where it may be going in the future.

“It’s been around for about four or five years, and it’s just coming into Virginia,” Kraft said.

IF YOU GO: The Lord Fairfax Small Business Retreat will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 22.  Information about event programming and tickets for can be found at:

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or