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Legalities, Litchfield Tourism, and Learning from Mentors!

CEO Guest Speakers


Shared CEO Experiences

with Macoupin County CEO

Macoupin County CEO and Montgomery CEO met to discuss their early CEO experiences. They also discussed plans for their upcoming class businesses. Team members shared how each team acquired their startup capital as well as early concepts for their personal businesses. The teams were divided into breakout groups to discuss a brainstorming exercise. Groups discussed starting specific businesses with special considerations for rural America and competing with E-Commerce companies like Amazon. The results revealed the specific challenges toward proposing an effective business that overcomes economic threats for making the business competitive and sustainable. 


Litchfield Tourism

with Sarah Waggoner

Board Member, Valerie Belusko, made the visit with the team and shared her insight from the experience:

Visiting Sarah Waggoner, with Litchfield Tourism, gave the CEO’s new perspectives on marketing, budgeting, and networking.  

Sarah talked about the different avenues she uses to market Litchfield amenities and events.  She stressed the importance of knowing your audience and framing a marketing plan around them.  When promoting the Route 66 tourist stops, she uses magazines that specifically market to groups interested in traveling the scenic byway.  When promoting Lake Lou Yeager she attends fishing and boating expos/conventions to educate people outside of our 50-mile radius.  Sarah highlighted many other promotions that she uses to create interest in our community and she stressed that the number one rule of promotion was PROOFING material prior to publication.  The key is to proof an advertisement or article multiple times focusing on spelling, punctuation, visual appeal, correct information and the layout.  Once she feels confident in her review, she asks someone with fresh eyes to review the piece prior to publication.

Sarah discussed the importance of managing a budget while marketing.  Sometimes large investments are required, one of the most common being websites.  Sarah explained how she spent several years, in anticipation of knowing the website would need updating, in researching companies and the quality of their work.  She also used this planning time to budget appropriately for the project.   

Not all businesses need the same type of marketing strategy.  Sarah has found that Facebook has been a wonderful tool to reach a large audience at a low cost.  Even though Facebook is a common social media tool that many of our CEO’s use, Sarah explained that marketing for a business or product is much different than simply writing a post.  Pictures that invoke feeling are very important in social media.  (Example:  Pictures of the horse trails at the lake give viewers a feeling of calmness and enjoyment and make them want to visit the area.)  While it is important for Sarah to give information about events or destination stops on social media, she also does not want to overload viewers following her page.  It is important for a marketer to know when they have supplied enough information for their audience.  

The CEO’s quickly realized that marketing is not just a pretty picture and a few words.  Effective marketing takes research and skill.  Some small businesses do not have the time to effectively manage a marketing plan so; instead, they choose to outsource those duties.  

Magazines, newspapers, radio, flyers, social media….are all avenues Sarah uses for marketing…however, Sarah stressed that the number one marketing tool is word of mouth.  When other people like an event or destination, they share that information with their friends, family and co-workers which gives merit to potential visitors.  

The CEO’s will soon be utilizing this valuable information as they plan promotion for their class business.  


Legalities for Startup Businesses

with Trent West

Trent West, attorney at law, discussed the incorporation process for small businesses and the values and challenges therein. Small businesses often utilize legal advice from attorneys in order to set up their business structure and articles of incorporation. Businesses need to know their legal boundaries and responsibilities. Trent also discussed an attorney's role in setting up contractual agreements for small businesses to utilize with customers and clients. Contracts "put in writing and clarify the terms of a business agreement."  Trent explained that using and updating contract agreements provides clarification for the customer and protects the business owner in the event of a disagreement. 

Peyton Tester explains, "Trent talked to us about how easy it is to get sued. He explained different types of cases he has experienced and how he decides what cases to handle depending on their winability. I learned how important it is to have an attorney when running my trucking company because there are numerous liabilities that come when operating a semi. My driver, for example, could hit someone or someone's property and injure others as well as himself while operating the truck. I realize that working with an attorney can be very useful in owning my business."


Mentor Matching Event

The team members met their potential mentors last Friday. Mentors received 5 minutes with each team member as they rotated to meet every mentor for a brief one-on-one conversation. They were encouraged to discuss their business plans and make a more personal connection. We are grateful for our mentors as they offer a very specific utility for our program. Mentors meet at least once a month with their mentee to help guide their personal business planning and implementation. Mentors review the personal business plan, help with course corrections, and walking alongside as the team members look toward their startup and their big reveal opportunity at the CEO Marketplace in May.

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Get Involved in CEO

The manner in which the CEO program is funded is critical to its success and sustainability. All funds raised are used exclusively for the Montgomery CEO program. To participate, a 3-year $1000 per year commitment is required. Business Partner Investors commitments of time and energy are also critical to the program's success. Contributions may be tax deductible, as our organization is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

When we are not touring local businesses, we need a place to host the class. During that time, the 13 CEO students and their Facilitator would meet at your site where they would also have guest speakers and guests from the community attend. Hosting requires a facility with internet access and adequately accommodates up to 18 people.

We are looking for people to share real-life stories about the concepts of running a business, from strategic thinking, product development to marketing, and cash flow management. Also, sharing your personal successes and failures are what recent classes have enjoyed the most.


If you are interested in participating in any of the above programs, use our contact form to send us a message


Grant Hamby - Montgomery CEO

Grant Hamby

About Me

Grant is a student athlete at Hillsboro High school who aspires to extend his business knowledge and create a strong foundation for a professional career. While in school Grant’s main interests have included working for Eisentraut theatres in downtown Hillsboro, student council, school musicals and assorted sports. He began to study business when his mother opened a fabric store in 2014 which was open for three years before being sold. His mother’s experience in dealing with manufacturers and retail suppliers peaked his interest in both sales and manufacturing. Grant was attracted to CEO because the class tours local businesses and learns through an experienced based educational curriculum. He admits, the opportunity to create his own business was also very intriguing. Grant hopes to utilize his charismatic nature and develop a communication centered product for his business.


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