Program facilitators in Kansas needed

searching for facilitators

Good facilitation is like beauty or even leadership, hard to describe but you know it when you see it. – Tim Fulton, nationally recognized consultant and advocate for small business

 

The Kansas Small Business Development Center (Kansas SBDC) network is actively seeking program facilitators for small business education programs delivered throughout the year. Some programs are one day or less in length; others involve a series of programs delivered over several weeks.

At the Kansas SBDC our focus is on growing Kansas entrepreneurs. Our program attendees will be entrepreneurs, small business owners and decision makers, as well as other individuals that work within the small business and entrepreneurship ecosystems in Kansas.

Do you have what it takes to facilitate some great events? We need program facilitators with the following qualifications:

 * extensive small business/entrepreneurial experience

* experience leading business teams

* a belief that the smartest people in the room are the participants

* an ability to be very flexible with the structure of the learning process

* a willingness to challenge participants in the programs

* a comfort level with being vulnerable

*desire to make a profound difference through entrepreneurship

We need program facilitators with the following skills:

*active listening

*guiding focused discussion

*guiding groups toward an agreed-upon set of outcomes

*helping groups define outcomes – set priorities

*people management

If this sounds like you, please contact Lisa Roberts at 785.296.6514 or email lsroberts@ksbdc.net.

 

Audrey Spirit, LLC

audrey spirit

Audrey Spirit LLC is an inspiring example of a business born out of passion, need, and love.

In 2011, Donna Yadrich lost her beloved 15-year-old daughter, Audrey Grace, from complications of serious medical problems.  Although appreciative of the tremendous care Audrey received during her countless hospitalizations, Donna observed that generic hospital gowns stripped young patients of their youthful attitude and personal dignity.  Street wear worn in the hospital required a nurse to unhook and re-hook medical lines just to change in to a clean shirt.  During Audrey’s final hospitalization, Donna made customized t-shirts that were both “hospital-friendly” and also expressed Audrey’s spunky personality. After 25 years in the medical field, Donna experienced a lapse in employment after Audrey’s death.  That is when Donna decided to launch Audrey Spirit LLC, a clothing manufacturer that continues her daughter’s mission – to make difficult times that hospital patients face as personable, comfortable and empowering as possible.

The first line of Audrey Spirit apparel includes xamtees™; these therapeutic t-shirts help nurses get around invasive medical devices without having to disconnect them or contort the patient’s body into uncomfortable positions.  Most importantly, the clothing looks “normal.”  Donna worked with an apparel designer to develop original, patent-pending designs for high quality garments that are comfortable and useful in medical environments.

With the help of the JCCC KSBDC, Audrey Spirit LLC marked its first commercial sale of xamtee™ therapeutic garments to a local children’s hospital in 2013. Donna explained that “without the support and guidance of the KSBDC, I would not have found a U.S. manufacturer to produce the garments that are being worn today by children fighting cancer and other critical illnesses.”  Donna has been meeting with Elisa Waldman of the KSBDC on a regular basis since 2012.  According to Donna, “Elisa provides an unmatched dimension of practical and visionary support for my small business.”

Convincing seasoned healthcare professionals to support a new venture, like Audrey Spirit LLC, and to embrace an innovative new product is challenging in the healthcare industry. Donna spent many months forging relationships within the healthcare system. She organized beta tests and meticulously surveyed patients, nurses, and doctors to gather feedback and suggestions for improvement of xamtee™ t-shirts.  Now that the t-shirts are available for sale, Donna continues to champion the needs of her customers by seeking payment for Audrey Spirit xamtee™   through medical insurance.

Donna has taken full advantage of KSBDC offerings including QuickBooks courses, business plan review, and in-depth assessment of financial goals and projections. Donna believes that “having the confidence through preparation and the numbers to support my financial projections directly reflects the efforts of the KSBDC. Elisa required me to stop avoiding unknown details and create a five-year sales plan. As a result, Audrey Spirit LLC won a $5000 award in a local pitch contest!”

Donna is an outstanding example of an entrepreneur who is succeeding as a result of determination, hard work, persistence, and the support of seasoned professionals. When Donna is asked for advice from new business owners, she always tells them that “every obstacle is an opportunity.” Donna truly practices this advice, and she remains busy identifying opportunities and designing future medical industry products worthy of Audrey’s legacy.

About Audrey Spirit
Owner:  Donna Macan Yadrich
Nature of Business:  Therapeutic Garment Manufacturer
City: Kansas City, Kansas
County: Wyandotte
Phone/website: (913) 980-6282   www.audreyspirit.com

About our consultant Elisa Waldman

Elisa Waldman brings her past experiences as an attorney and a retail store owner to her current position as a consultant for the Kansas Small Business Development Center (Kansas SBDC) at JCCC. Prior to joining the Kansas SDBC in 2005, Elisa earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her law degree from George Washington University. Elisa practiced law in the Kansas City area with a focus on land use and business litigation, and she worked as the Advocacy Manager and in-house Counsel for the Academy of General Dentistry in Chicago, Illinois. While in Chicago, Elisa also taught as an adjunct professor at DePaul University Law School. She is currently an Adjunct Instructor of Business Law at Johnson County Community College.

Elisa left the practice of law to pursue her creative and entrepreneurial interests by opening Paint Glaze & Fire, Inc., a retail paint-your-own pottery studio in Overland Park. Elisa opened her small business with the assistance of the Kansas SBDC.  During her eight years of ownership, Elisa was responsible for all areas of business operations including marketing, finance, technical training, employee relations and customer service. In 2000, Elisa opened Successful Studio Consulting Inc. and has assisted over 200 pottery studios in opening their doors throughout the United States and Canada. Upon selling her studio, Elisa joined the Kansas SBDC as a full-time consultant.

Art In Iron

art in iron

Mike Hill has a love for metal art which he developed into a business idea— Art In Iron. As he began his ornamental ironwork business in 2012 in Garnett he realized he needed assistance in getting pointed in the right direction from the beginning. That’s when he contacted the Kansas SBDC at Pittsburg State University and began working with consultant Tom Byler. With Tom’s help, Mike developed a business plan which he admits resulted in starting an entirely different business than he originally envisioned, but found the process very educational. In addition to assisting with the business plan, Tom assisted with obtaining financing for the startup, equipment purchasing decisions, and most recently UPC barcode licensing.

Today Mike has a growing business in a tough economic environment. One of the challenges he continually faces is creating products efficiently with a decent margin. When he “gets it right” he considers this a great success. Because of the outside support he has utilized, he has been able to avoid certain pitfalls with Art In Iron by anticipating problems before they happen. art in iron

Mike also attributes the success of his small business, Art In Iron, to finding something that the large companies cannot do. Small businesses such as his can be nimble, creative and quick to adapt to changing markets and the business environment. His advice to other potential small business owners is

Don’t be afraid to change the business plan radically if needed since it is just a guide.

Be incredibly careful with startup capital as it will be gone quicker than expected. If every penny is not watched carefully, the business can be in trouble before the owner realizes it.

His advice to small business owners is to view every new person met as an opportunity to do business, and to actively expand their network daily.

SECRET TO SUCCESS

View every new person met as an opportunity to do business.–Mike Hill

About Art in Iron
Owner: Mike Hill
Nature of Business: Ornamental Ironwork
City, County: Garnett, Crawford County
Phone: 785-304-0825
Website: Hillforge 

Meet our consultant Tom Byler 

tom byler kansas sbdcTom Byler splits his time working as a consultant with the Kansas SBDC at PSU and ESU working out of his office in Chanute. Tom has expertise in sales development, manufacturing, and organizational management. He enjoys working behind the scenes with his small business clients and visibly supports their success. Tom  can be reached at: tbyler@pittstate.edu or 620-431-2820 ext 285.

Entrepreneurship at work in Garnett

Kansas SBDC client success story: HayesBrand Molding in Garnett, Kansas

With experience working in the plastics business most of his life, Gary Hayes decided to start a business of his own using his knowledge and expertise.

As HayesBrand Molding, his dream was, and continues to be, for his family to carry on his legacy in this field. HayesBrand growth has led to full family involvement in the business and continues to fuel its successful growth. Gary’s daughter Marci, and son-in-law Shane, have helped Gary realize his dream while Gary’s wife Cheryl, and youngest daughter Jessi, have joined HayesBrand as the business has expanded to its current level of 12 full-time employees.

Entrepreneurship at Work

HayesBrand was drawn to the KSBDC with the purpose of gaining additional knowledge and recommendations on methods to improve the business. The Kansas SBDC at PSU in Chanute provided expert consulting and connected the team with other resources that could identify, analyze, and evaluate potential business opportunities. Economic Gardening and Innovation Engineering were two key tools that provided help. As a result of in-depth market research, HayesBrand added a new packing and shipping business to their company’s service offers.

HayesBrand stays current on changes in their industry, seeks guidance from peer companies that been successful in their fields, and keeps an open mind to expanding outside their core. This Garnett, Kansas, company stays active in the community and raises the level of awareness of other businesses in the area to promote and support entrepreneurship in Kansas.

HAYESBRAND SECRET TO SUCCESS

“Retain pride, yet allow downfalls; remain humble and appreciate your upraising. Who we are today came from the growth we went through yesterday. And with honest integrity, success is inevitable in this life. We call this our family business.”

It’s about knowing the right time

right time to start a businessThey say that timing is everything. We’d add that knowing the right time to start a business is priceless.

Rafael Figueroa know that he wanted to not only be successful in business and provide better for his family; he wanted to leave his own legacy.

He knew he wanted to use his skills and experience working with a regional heating and refrigeration company to start his own business. He had the industry knowledge and knew what it took to do the actual skill work of the business, but to be successful, he recognized that it would take learning the business side of things.

He had heard a little about the Kansas SBDC through Liberal Area Chamber of Commerce in Liberal, Kansas and on the radio and decided to contact Mike O’Kane with the Kansas SBDC at GCCC in Liberal. He didn’t know where to start and needed some help. Working with O’Kane, he quickly learned what he’d need to not only get the business started, but what it would take to make it successful. Because HVAC is a highly-regulated industry O’Kane took the time early on to work with Figueroa to research all the licensing and certifications necessary to operate the business.

After their initial work together Figueroa decided that the timing wasn’t ideal. And, while it’s tough for many individuals wanting to get started, he waited patiently until the timing was right.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Stay motivated, keep a positive mind set and be proactive in growing your business.–Rafael Figueroa

Figueroa didn’t give up his dream. Instead, he used the time to acquire his Master’s Certificate in Mechanical Contracting – something that by working with O’Kane early on he realized he’d need to obtain a City of Liberal business license. He used the time to save additional money and increase his owner’s equity so he wouldn’t have to take out any loans to get the business started.

When Figueroa was ready to launch he felt confident contacting O’Kane again to get help with the process.

Together they got the ball rolling and quickly obtained an FEIN and applied for the Kansas Department of Revenue sales tax certificate. They discussed record keeping and payment solutions as well as the overall organization of the business. Early on he decided to hire an accountant for bookkeeping, freeing his time to concentrate on working at the business.

In addition to the free consulting provided by O’Kane, Figueroa took advantage of the “Steps to Start-Up” seminar led by O’Kane at the Seward County Community College/Area Technical School and where O’Kane’s office is located.

Working together to get Heco Heating and Cooling off the ground in Liberal, Kansas, has been rewarding for both men.

Figueroa believes that by waiting for the right time to open his business he was successful from the start. By working with the Kansas SBDC and Mike O’Kane he was better prepared by realizing early on the timing wasn’t right. And for O’Kane this was great to experience. “It’s rewarding to see an entrepreneur plan for their business before they open and to see him become successful,” shared O’Kane. “I think Rafael is a great example for aspiring entrepreneurs who have recognized that they needed help and asked for it, used recommendations, and works hard and plans for growth in his business.”

And success has been good for the Liberal community. Since opening in 2013, Figueroa has purchased two service trucks and grown to add four full-time employees.

Figueroa has some great advice for other entrepreneurs, “Don’t be afraid to get help from a professional. Don’t hesitate to get started.” And for individuals currently in business today, “Stay motivated, keep a positive mind set and be proactive in growing your business.” Figueroa shared his keys to success: “Self-motivation, drive, follow your own road.”

 

About HECO Heating and Cooling

Business Owner: Rafael Figueroa
Nature of business: HVAC
Business: Heco Heating and Cooling
1510 N Fairview Ave
Liberal, KS 67901
City, County: Liberal, Seward County
Phone: 620-253-2123
Website: http://hecoheatingandcooling.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HecoHeatingAndCooling

 

About our consultant

Mike O'KaneMike O’Kane | consultant with Kansas SBDC at SCCC/ATS in Liberal

Mike has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Ft. Hays State University. He has 35 years’ experience in retail management and operations, including the position of President for two retail companies and is himself a former small business owner. Mike has expertise in sales, financial management and analysis, and cash flow projections.

Mike enjoys working with small businesses to help them start, run and grow their business. He can be reached at mike.okane@sccc.edu or 620-417-1955

Hey Machinery Company, Inc.

Hey Machinery Company, Inc.

Any business that has been around for 85 years clearly has the ability to stand the test of time.  Hey Machinery Company, Inc., also known as Hey Wheel, has spanned four generations of family owners so far. Hey Wheel sells re-purposed aircraft tires for off-highway, agricultural use.  They also manufacture rims and centers.  Their products can be found on tractors, grain carts, feed wagons, and other agricultural implements all over the country.

Will Hey started the business in 1929.  Mr. Hey was a dealer for International Harvester, who also did custom threshing, house moving, lumber sawing, and anything else he needed to do to make the business go in the early days.  In 1938, Will Hey mounted an aircraft tire to a rim to be used off-highway, which proved to be a key development.

The business has been located on its current Baldwin City site since 1962.  Right around that time, Hey Wheel manufactured their first bolt-together wheel, which expanded the potential uses of aircraft tires.  Rather than disposing of  tires that don’t pass rigorous pre-flight inspection, Hey Wheel makes it possible for farmers and OEMs to use these tires, cost-effectively, in ways that make sense.

Long-standing family businesses face a number of unique challenges.  Hey Wheel approached the Kansas Small Business Development Center at the University of Kansas (Kansas SBDC at KU) for assistance with valuation and family succession/transition issues.

“Our KSBDC Consultant was easy to work with and completed a difficult assignment for us in a timely fashion,“ according to Bob Hey.  With careful planning, hard work, and the right assistance, Hey Wheel plans to be around to celebrate even more birthdays.

SECRET TO SUCCESS

 In our business, customer relationships are everything.  Whether it’s farmers or OEMs, we pride ourselves on meeting customers’ needs in the areas of price, quality, and delivery time. –John Hey

About Hey Machinery Company, Inc.

Owners: Bob Hey, John Hey, Bryan Hey
Nature of Business: Wheels, rims, aircraft tires for agricultural use
City, County: Baldwin City, Douglas
Phone: (785) 594-3441
Website: Hey Wheel

About our consultant Will Katz | Kansas SBDC regional director and consultant

Will has undWill Katz Kansas SBDC at KUergraduate majors in Philosophy and Russian to go along with an MBA and CVA (certified valuation analyst). Will has expertise in valuation, financial analysis, and non-traditional sources of capital. He loves working with small businesses because each one is a unique snowflake and a novel learning opportunity.  Will loves playing guitar, riding motorcycles, and spending time with his family.

Will can be reached at willkatz@ku.edu or 785-843-8844.

 

The American Dream is alive and well in Cottonwood Falls

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The American Dream is alive in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

The American Dream is still alive. Living where you want to live. Working where you want to work. Many of us dream about it, a select few of us make it happen.

“I’ve been a mechanic all my life and had gained experience and expertise over the years. I saw an opportunity in my community to buy an existing mechanic shop and along with this, an opportunity to make a living in my home community without having to drive to a job away from home every day,” shared Dustin Maddox. “I knew I had the expertise to provide excellent service and saw the chance to own a business of my own.”

For Dusty, this dream became a possibility when he heard that the local automotive repair shop was for sale.

To find out not only what was involved in buying the business, but to decide what a fair price for the business would be and what it would take to be successful he would need some help. Dusty had heard about the Chase County E-Communities program. The Chase County E-Communities program is a program offered by the Chase County Economic Development, Inc Committee to encourage entrepreneurial activity in Chase County. It was created through a Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship Tax Credit program in 2008. Qualifying entrepreneurial projects may include start-up businesses, as well as existing business purchases and/or expansions.

To potentially take advantage of the low-interest loans offered by the e-communities program and evaluate the opportunity to purchase the existing automotive repair shop in Cottonwood Falls, Dusty knew he would need help to get his plans on paper and with the application. To get help he contacted the Kansas SBDC at ESU in Emporia and began working with Lisa Brumbaugh, regional director and consultant. Lisa was the perfect consultant for Dusty’s needs. She had extensive expertise in financing, the process of buying and selling businesses, as well as business valuation – a key to determining initially the value of the purchase.

Lisa provided consulting free-of-charge to Dusty and together they worked on his plans and financial projections. They dug deep into analyzing the market he’d be serving, how he’d maximize billable hours, what taxes the business would be responsible for, and critical expense estimates associated with running the business. They left no stone unturned and investigated everything he’d need upfront to avoid any later surprises.

Several solutions and quite a bit of insight can be generated as part of the business transition (buy/sell) consulting process. Kansas SBDC consultants work with potential buyers of existing businesses to determine a range of purchase prices using recognized evaluation standards. Then as consultants they evaluate how this price range would impact future cash flow of the business helping the client, or potential future buyer, determine if and what is feasible to pay for the purchase. Consultants work with clients to estimate potential fluctuations in sales due to seasonality, what form of legal ownership would work best, and what types of items to be aware of during the actual business buy/sell transaction (i.e. sales contracts needed, list of assets being purchased, etc.). Future profit/loss and cash flow projections often become a make or break point for the buyer to determine if financially the business, once purchased, can be successful.

Lisa worked with Dusty guiding him through the process. She knew that he’d benefit greatly by getting his plans on paper and she could help him out tremendously by pointing out things he may not have thought about as a future business owner.

By working on financial projections early on Dusty was better prepared to not only own the business, but purchase it at a fair price. And on March 10, 2014, Dusty’s Repair went from dream to reality.

Dusty was able to successfully transition the business for himself and his community. The business has surpassed all income projections. The community now has a mechanic and general welder available full-time five days per week. An increase over the previous limited service hours provided by the business he purchased.

And Dusty’s family wins too. The Maddox family can raise their three children in a community they love.

Now what made this truly a success was something you probably don’t hear often. Dusty knew he wanted to own a business in his community, but he was very realistic about his expectations and was not stuck on owning this business at any cost. He wanted it to work the way it should and was prepared to walk away if realistic projections didn’t prove the business could be financially feasible.

By reaching out and getting help and being prepared to walk away, Dusty laid the groundwork to build a long-term successful and a needed business in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.

Dusty’s Repair is a perfect example of what a small business can mean to a community, how much a community can lend its support through e-community financing, and a supportive local bank. It’s the story of how a small town rural Kansas resident can find a way to live and work in his own community and realize the American Dream.

Dusty’s keys to success:

“Be known and trusted by people in your community. And have a great location that’s visible from the highway and easily accessible.”

About Dusty’s Repair:

Business owner: Dustin Maddox

Business name: Dusty’s Repair LLC

Address: 101 Union St, Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845

Phone: 620-273-8693

About Kansas SBDC consultant

Lisa Brumbaugh, Kansas SBDC at ESU regional director, shares her industry knowledge and experience by consulting in addition to managing the regional center. Lisa has expertise in financial analysis, business valuation, business planning, and business transition. Lisa can be reached at lbrumbau@emporia.edu or 620-341-5308.

Moving the conversation forward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving the conversation from “What’s your cheapest product?” to “What’s your best product?”

You know you’re doing things right when the conversation with your customers changes from “What’s your cheapest product?” to “What’s your best product?” When Patrick McDonald opened McDonald’s Vacuum Center in downtown Arkansas City, Kansas in 2004, he opened with an eclectic mix of products and services that weren’t available in his home town. Used books, vacuum sales and repair, sewing machine sales and repair – McDonald’s Vacuum Center made it all available to customers under one roof.

It was a diverse mix of product lines that worked on some days better than others. Most customers were always looking for the lowest price, a bargain – a tough situation for any business trying to take off and grow.

Early on McDonald, not unlike other small business retailers, often shot from the hip making decisions without the guidance of a business plan. When we asked what advice he’d give himself if he could go back in time, he shared, “that it would have been nice to not experience the growing pains made in some of my rush decisions.”

McDonald realized that if he was going to grow from where he was to where he wanted to be, he’d have to leave the shooting-from-the-hip method behind. The business he’d started was getting too big to make rush decisions with the hope that they’d work. It would take a new way of thinking. To get help with developing a new approach McDonald contacted Jason Cole of the Kansas SBDC at WSU located in Arkansas City. McDonald knew about the consulting offered by the Kansas SBDC and one of organization’s valuable but lesser-known resources – market research. When he contacted the Kansas SBDC, McDonald had already expanded to Derby, Kansas, to grow his business in a new geographic market, but was finding that the expansion wasn’t enough. He wanted to further expand his products and market share into the Wichita metro. Cole gathered market research for McDonald to analyze not only where his best opportunities were, but also what those opportunities might be in the near future. By working closely with Cole, using both market research and consulting, McDonald decided that any short-term future expansion would be realized through new select brands and product lines.

To make this move, and to sustain his current growth, Cole and McDonald identified several changes to McDonald’s Vacuum Center – changes that would need to take place over time.

 McDonalds-Logo (1)

A new business model.

Operating multiple locations with new product lines, as well as securing new dealer contracts, all while maintaining his growing original location in Arkansas City, would require a different approach to business. His original location in Arkansas City has grown to the point where it was time to separate his sewing and vacuum sales from used book sales. And the February 2014 closure of an established quilting store in Wichita (due to retirement) added to the opportunity mix. Together Cole and McDonald worked on a phased approach to keep all the moving parts working successfully.

As of today, they continue to research and develop a new business model that will support McDonald’s profitable long-term sustainability and growth.

A new approach to financing.

Over the years McDonald had relied on cash flow to purchase the majority of his products. Market research from the Kansas SBDC identified opportunities to expand one of his product lines – sewing machines – from the $300 sewing machines he was used to selling to $10,000 high-end machines. Additionally, McDonald was recently able to secure a protected dealership area with two major sewing and vacuum manufacturers. All of these changes taking place simultaneously called for a different approach to financing.

And with new financing, as most businesses know, McDonald would have to look at pulling together a business plan for lenders. So he and Cole began working on one of the key parts of his business plan – financial projections.

Cole tapped into his background in the banking industry to build projections along with current tools Kansas SBDC consultants access for clients. Because McDonald’s product mix involved expansion into new product lines, historical financial figures didn’t reflect future earnings, Cole took a 360 degree approach to develop accurate cash flow projections. Cole used ProfitCents –a financial analysis and benchmarking tool – to evaluate how other small businesses were performing in the industry. Additionally, Cole reached out to suppliers and manufacturers on McDonald’s behalf to gain a better understanding of his potential revenues.

After gathering financial projections, benchmarks, and analysis, McDonald and Cole began contacting local resource partners. They began working with a local bank and regional Certified Development Company (CDC) to explore SBA funding and revolving lines of credit. Additionally, they reached out to the county economic development organization to explore opportunities for support of local small business growth.

McDonald secured the financing he needed to manage his expanding business and support his growth. We believe one of the keys to securing McDonald’s funding was Jason Cole’s 360 degree approach to develop an actionable cash flow.

A new approach to operations.

Operating multiple locations with expanded product lines called for new systems. By working with Cole, McDonald recognized that this would require a different approach to operations. McDonald has recognized the need for and recently added a part-time bookkeeper to his team.

And while many things have changed, some things have remained the same. McDonald knows that part of what has grown his business and allowed him to secure exclusive brands is his reputation for quality service. He knows the key to his long-term sustainability and growth is ensuring that customers continue to have a positive experience at every location he has now and in the future.

McDonald continues to work with Cole to put additional systems – inventory tracking, detailed profitability tracking by product line, and others – to keep the business moving forward.

Moving forward.

As McDonald’s Vacuum Center has grown, and owner Patrick McDonald has taken a more strategic approach to his business, he’s noticed one great benefit that can‘t be overlooked – the change in how he competes in the market. Fewer and more infrequent are the days where customers call or stop by asking for the lowest price. Today’s conversation is focused on quality.

Looking back over the past ten years McDonald smiles and reflects, “When I sold vacuums and sewing machines in my used book store, people would ask, “What’s your cheapest product?” Now they ask, “What’s your best product?”

For any small business, that’s a great conversation to have.

About McDonald’s Vacuum Center

Owner: Patrick McDonald
Nature of Business: Used Books, Vacuum Sales & Repair, and Sewing Machine Sales & Repair
City, County: Arkansas City, Cowley County and Derby, Sedgwick County
Website: McDonald’s Vacuum Center

 About our consultant Jason Cole | consultant Kansas SBDC at WSU in Arkansas City

Jason started as the consultant for the Cowley College Kansas SBDC Outreach Center in 2012. Clients seeking loans find themselves in good hands with Jason’s experience as an Assistant Vice President for Home National Bank in Arkansas City. As a co-owner of Centaur Solutions, a company specializing in employee assessment, Jason developed a passion for creating high-performing workforces. He helps Kansas SBDC clients identify and solve employee issues that are constraining sales, operations efficiencies, and profits.

Jason also served as Adjunct Instructor with the Business & Industry Training branch of Cowley College and taught in the Wellington school system. Jason holds a B.S. in Business Administration from LeTourneau University and a M.S. in Business Education from Emporia State University. He can be reached at 620-441-2563 or by emailing: ksbdc@cowley.edu

Let Us Help Your Small Business

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Frustrated? Here’s how we help.

Every business owner gets frustrated at some point in their career. And for many it’s difficult to know where to get affordable, yet beneficial help. Where do you go to get support without paying out cash you don’t have? Where do you find a good sounding board? Or even learn something more about your business – all in confidence?

In short, the Kansas SBDC.

Maybe you’ve heard of us or have been referred to us for business plan help. As I’ve shared before, the consulting team at the Kansas SBDC is probably best known for our help in this area.

In fact, my last two posts focused on a brief introduction to business planning and business plan alternatives.

Yet we do more. Much more. And we do it well.

In 2013 we helped more than 11,974 small business clients (small business owners, decision makers, employees) through one-on-one consulting and training.

Our help consistently makes a difference in our small business clients’ businesses. In 2012 when all of Kansas businesses reported flat jobs growth, our clients increased the number of employees they hired by 55.5%. That same year, when all of Kansas businesses grew sales by 5.9%, our clients grew their sales by more than 28%.

To achieve the job growth and sales growth we helped our clients with more than just business plans. We helped with marketing, financing and capital access, financial analysis, and cash flow management. And while we work with entrepreneurs and individuals interested in starting businesses, where we provide a great deal of assistance that you may not be aware of is in business operations and management as well as the process of buying and selling a business.

Each of our centers located across the state can assist in every area of your business at every stage of your business lifecycle – at start up, growth and expansion, transition, and even through the successful sale of your company.

To use our services, you can:

Option 1) Contact the center in your area (the center links below provide a list of counties they serve) to request consulting. We suggest downloading and completing the following to expedite the process:  request for counseling, Initial Assessment Form, and Summary of Money Needs forms.

Emporia State University Small Business Development Center

Fort Hays State University Small Business Development Center

Garden City Community College Small Business Development Center

Johnson County Community College Small Business Development Center

Kansas University Small Business Development Center

Pittsburgh State University Small Business Development Center

Wichita State University Small Business Development Center

Washburn University Small Business Development Center

Option 2) If you’re not seeking consulting at this time, take advantage of face-to-face training offered across the state. Check out each center’s website or click here to access a quick list of upcoming training across the Kansas SBDC network.

Option 3) If you don’t have time to attend a specific training at a specific time, take advantage of our free online training resources first, then contact a center whenever you’re ready for consulting.

My point is this, frustration happens. If owning a small business was easy, anyone could do it. At the Kansas SBDC we’re the friendly face on the other side of the frustration. Call us. You don’t have to do this alone.

About our Author

Logan Hildebrand is an aspiring intern at the Kansas SBDC and is currently attending Washburn University in pursuit of three degrees: business marketing, management, and entrepreneurship. She has a passion for capturing the awes of consumers through social media and marketing, and has been interning at the state office and the Kansas SBDC at WU for the past 2 years in order to develop her experiences. Adapting to the ever-changing field of marketing and social media is a strength of hers, as well as making a delicious cup of coffee. Her dream is to one day open her own coffee shop and continue her marketing aspirations through that venture. Until then, she will be providing this blog with insightful, interesting, and useful posts to help aid in the development of marketing in businesses that need assistance.

 

Business Plan Alternatives

Not a fan of the business plan that I talked about last week? As promised, this week we’re providing some business plan alternatives that may work well for your business model.

If you remember from our last post, three things you’ll still need to include a more streamlined approach are the business concept, marketing, and financials. The three approaches we’re sharing in this post don’t include the financials you’ll need, but they help you lay the foundation to move to that next step.

 

#1 Business Model Canvas with an expanded Value Proposition Design

The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool that allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model. It can be used online as a web app or you can download a pdf of the canvas free of charge.

This web app is like a huge drawing board where you can manipulate your ideas into realities into a business model that you can test. You have options to use sticky notes, draw, use colors, sketch alternatives, tell a story, and even learn from the best within the canvas community. If you’re a book reader, there is a book that explains not only the method behind the canvas, but also shares valuable examples.

The building blocks provide a simple and easy way to create this canvas by giving you a unique way of viewing your business plan other than the typical blank piece of paper or a template. The tools isn’t for everyone, but can provide an insightful alternative to the traditional business model.

After the Business Model Canvas was released in 2009, a valuable add on, the Value Proposition Canvas was created to enable entrepreneurs to dig deeper and gain insight into this key element of the Business Model Canvas. A book is forthcoming, but the pdf can be downloaded now.

 

#2 GrowthWheel®

GrowthWheel® is a tool designed to give a 360 degree perspective that helps an entrepreneur identify and prioritize key challenges in their business – creating a business concept, building customer relations, maintaining profitable operations, and creating a viable organization.

Each tool in GrowthWheel® can be usedindependently as well as together. Unlike the Business Model Generation Canvas, GrowthWheel® is a product licensed to partners like the Kansas SBDC. We in turn have consultants across the network use the model to assist when consulting with your business. If this interests you, we invite you to download the Product Assortment worksheet and Product Value Pricing worksheet examples from GrowthWheel® .

growthwheel model overview graphic

 

 

#3 How It Works mapping

When searching for alternatives to the traditional business plan we found a simplified “how it works” approach on the website The Fresh Tilled Soil. The site suggests creatingsomething similar to a ‘how it works’ demo or tour you’ve seen on tons of application websites. It doesn’t need to be big or complicated. One page or a simple diagram often suffices.

For example if we were selling a 3D printer we might use this video as our talking points for a written on page diagram. Or, since Kansas is in the midst of summer mosquito season, we might use these talking points to build a business around selling a better mosquito trap. Pay special attention to the mosquito trap, the narrator does an excellent job using a human persona to explain the core premise of the product.

The key, according to the website, and honestly for any business plan is that the explanation must be so clear that a stranger, having seen your “how it works” model, could describe what you do to another stranger. Sound familiar? We know this is key with your elevator pitch and any time you are talking with a prospect or another individual that can refer business to you.

While neither video we’ve shared provides a full picture of how the product will result in building a business, both serve a good starting points. Working from the product, service, or technology your business has or is creating, using the How It Works approach you then will link these ideas to your customer development process (See diagram below).

how it works graphic

 

According to How It Works process, by drawing a simple initial diagram you’ll be able to show how your team will need to be aligned to get the product out the door.

The rest involves additional detailed steps of your marketing and sales process. Use simple step-by-step diagrams to show how your customer will be introduced to your business or product and what the various interactions would be along the funnel from stranger to customer (or even repeat customer).

How It Works then suggests showing these diagrams to 5 – 10 of your prospective customers and ask them to explain it back to you. If there are disconnects, fix them and redraw the diagrams. Don’t have any customers yet? Then use friends, family, or our consulting team members at any of our Kansas SBDC centers around the state.

 

One of our core areas of expertise in the Kansas SBDC network is business planning. Existing businesses turn to us for guidance when expanding their business, identifying new markets, re-organizing to improve profitability, and more. We work with a variety of businesses from manufacturing to professional services, from wholesalers to retailers, through every stage of the business life from start up to final sales. Search “success stories” on our site to hear from our clients.

Contact your local Kansas SBDC to access business planning assistance today.

 

About our Authors

Logan Hildebrand is an aspiring intern at the Kansas SBDC and is currently attending Washburn University in pursuit of three degrees: business marketing, management, and entrepreneurship. She has a passion for capturing the awes of consumers through social media and marketing, and has been interning at the state office and the Kansas SBDC at WU for the past 2 years in order to develop her experiences. Adapting to the ever-changing field of marketing and social media is a strength of hers, as well as making a delicious cup of coffee. Her dream is to one day open her own coffee shop and continue her marketing aspirations through that venture. Until then, she will be providing this blog with insightful, interesting, and useful posts to help aid in the development of marketing in businesses that need assistance.

Lisa Roberts is the associate state director/marketing and product manager with the Kansas SBDC statewide network. Lisa brings a background of marketing, sales, and media with a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communication to the Kansas SBDC network. She’s been with the team since February 2013. She believes that entrepreneurship is the lifeblood and small business is the backbone of an economy built on free enterprise.