So, you think you have a good idea for a business? Maybe you want to bounce it off someone before taking the plunge.

You’ll have a few places to go next week.

Several organizations will offer one-on-one coaching sessions as part of National Entrepreneurship Week. The “Calling All Entrepreneurs” events are planned in Portland, South Portland, Brunswick and Orono.

The sessions have filled up quickly in the past, and organizers expect they will have to expand the offerings next year to keep pace with demand, said Valarie Lamont, director of the Center of Entrepreneurship in the University of Southern Maine’s School of Business and a co-chairwoman for National Entrepreneurship Week in Maine.

When the economy is down, more people are interested in entrepreneurship, whether they’re thinking about forming a business or wanting to learn more about working in an entrepreneurial setting, said Lamont, who is associate dean for innovation and entrepreneurship in the business school.

In its fifth year, National Entrepreneurship Week is promoted by the Consortium of Entrepreneurship Education. Maine has been involved from the start.

Also planned in Maine this year are sessions on topics ranging from marketing to multi-generational workplaces to social networking, an engineering expo, a tournament where high school students run virtual corporations, and a presentation on eco-tourism.

During the coaching sessions, investors and experienced entrepreneurs will provide feedback to the participants. Some of the events are geared toward particular groups, like entrepreneurs in the creative economy, students or women.

In any case, it’s a chance to present a business concept, ask questions and get ideas on how to proceed.

The sessions can benefit people who are contemplating business concepts and also experienced entrepreneurs who are seeking solutions for challenges their businesses face, said Michelle Neujahr, director of the Southern Maine Community College Entrepreneurial Center, one of the groups that will host sessions.

Dante Vespignani will be among the coaches for the sessions at SMCC on Feb. 18. Vespignani, former director of franchise operations for Arby’s, now works as a kind of matchmaker between potential franchise owners and more than 300 franchise companies.

That role, he said, involves serving as a business coach to potential franchise owners, identifying skill sets and explaining various business models and funding options.

Vespignani, who said he sometimes works with clients for as long as a year, doesn’t expect the feedback sessions to provide all of the answers to a would-be entrepreneur. But the event can be a useful starting point.

“Bring a pad and pen. Talk to everybody about everything. This is exploration. This is about getting information,” he said. “That’s the whole purpose of the summit: Try to engage as many people as possible and try to re-engage with them at a point later in time.”

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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