Entrepreneurship, or starting a new business, is highly important in the economic development world. Starting a new business in your home, on Main Street, or in a business park is a daunting task. However, resources are available for our area’s entrepreneurs and I believe we are at a point that we can best serve them.
My main resource for assisting entrepreneurs is our regional Small Business Development Center, which includes the 6 counties of southwest Wisconsin. We have had an SBDC counselor for this region for many years, but we now have 3 people serving our region. Many of you know Brock Waterman, as he has been our full-time SBDC counselor for several years. Last year our region was able to fund another person. Kristi Smith was hired about a year ago to help support the demand being realized in our region. Jason Schleip has also been added recently to the southwest Wisconsin team. Jason co-founded Falbo Brothers Pizza in Madison and has 25 years’ experience working with entrepreneurs and businesses.
It should be noted that the SBDC works with more than just new entrepreneurs and start-ups; they work with all business types including existing businesses and manufacturers. Whatever the business type and business need, they are able to help. Adding personnel to the SBDC office has allowed for more services to be provided in the region. And, it is needed. Metrics or measurements are kept by the SBDC, to show that they are meeting expectations. Grant County has always been the county with the most entrepreneurial activity and the most SBDC metric data. Green County set a goal to match what Grant County does, which spurred the need for Kristi to be added. There are 6 counties in the region. The hope is that by adding Jason, all the counties will see increases in the number of entrepreneurs and new businesses started. My office sees the need and is supporting this increase in staffing. We are all part of the team. My office meets regularly with clients or prospective businesses and they need assistance. Sometimes, my office cannot provide all the services. SBDC excels at providing things like business plan development.
Entrepreneurship is a big thing right now. Over half of my prospects a year are entrepreneurial in nature. The various shows on television that highlight entrepreneurs and their dreams of starting and growing their businesses have added attention to the small business development. It’s exciting stuff, but it’s also scary. Many questions need to be asked, data extracted, ideas developed, financing obtained, and so much more. These things can be obtained with the assistance of our area economic development organizations and the SBDC, as well as lending institutions and accountants, etc. It is not a simple task to start a business and you will notice that I stated “with the assistance”. The entrepreneurs or business owners are the main driver in this process. Don’t expect the SBDC or Grant County Economic Development to write your business plan. The entrepreneur is the one doing the writing and the research. You will be doing the majority of the work. We are here to help you do it correctly, to assist you, but we are not writing the plan for you. Often a banker will ask, when reviewing a business plan, how did you come up with these financial projections? The business needs to know the numbers. You can’t say, “I don’t know, Brock came up with those.” If the business owner cannot put the time in to generate the financial numbers, will they be able to manage a business?
I truly feel that this county and this region are at an enviable position. We are at a point and position where we are the best served by the resources of the SBDC and local economic development to help businesses. The good old days are now, when it comes to business counseling in southwest Wisconsin. https://wisconsinsbdc.org/swwi is a web address, if you are interested in more.