Three good friends ended up in the hospital this weekend.  All unrelated, all unexpected. All crazy scary. All keen reminders that life can go awry at any moment.

Are you prepared?  Can you put your finger on critical information, when needed?  Do you have the right contact numbers stored in your phone? Do you have a network of support?

Coincidentally, this past Friday, Chamber Deputy Director Liz Holt and I had been designing a program for small business owners under the working title “Protect Your Business.”  Liz oversees our professional development series for small business owners. She suggested that our capstone “Small Business Symposium” in September focus on a topic that resonates with all businesses, large or small, retail or service.  Understanding what processes and systems should be in place to mitigate disaster – or to help get your business back on track after disaster strikes – is a universal need. Things happen. They just do.

After a bit of brainstorming, we realized that there is no shortage of related topics.  Cyber security, physical plant insurance needs, financial resources for that “rainy day,” password management for multiple online systems, protocols for handling mistakes and public relations challenges, employee-related issues ranging from immigration law to harassment… This list goes on.

Because there are so many issues, all important, we will structure the workshop to accommodate as many topics as possible.  Using an innovative, multi-speaker format that combines TED talk length with Japanese PechaKucha fast-paced style, we will provide business people with a taste of what they need to know and resources for them to request additional assistance.  

We are excited to present this important half-day workshop.  Right now, we are assembling an engaging program of eight experts, each of whom will give a ten minute presentation highlighting three different take-aways for small business owners.  We’ll end with an exciting keynote luncheon speaker. The exact program and speakers will be announced shortly.

The Small Business Symposium will be held Thursday morning, September 27 at West Suburban Medical Center in the lower level community rooms and auditorium.  Tickets are $40 for members, $60 for non-members and can be purchased on our website,

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...