SMARTStart Classes For Budding Entrepreneurs Planned

By Kelsey Haugen The Creston News Advertiser, Iowa

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In an effort to educate budding entrepreneurs, some local Iowa leaders are offering "SMARTStart" classes. The classes help people who have just started a business or are thinking about starting one.

The Creston News Advertiser, Iowa

Though an entrepreneur may have a good idea and the drive to see it to fruition, many new businesses fail within the first few years.

"I think they don't take enough time to do proper business planning, understand the markets that they're in, the industry they're in and understand what their customer needs are," said Wayne Pantini, Union County Development Association (UCDA) executive director. "They're typically under-capitalized when they get started."

In an effort to educate budding entrepreneurs, UCDA, in collaboration with Small Business Development Center, is offering its SMARTStart classes from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday evenings, Oct. 10 and Oct. 17. It will be the second time the two-session workshop has been offered.

"The idea behind this is an introductory to business planning for somebody who has maybe just started a business or is thinking about starting a business," Pantini said. "And then, they would have the option to set up some one-on-one business counseling with Brandi Shay at the Small Business Development Center after they go through this class."

When it was offered in the spring, Pantini said it was successful, but there were people in Union County who were unable to attend. He wants to offer the workshop again in an attempt to draw in those individuals as well as others interested in learning the ins and outs of running a business.

"It's not geared toward any one type of business, so it's a pretty broad perspective," he said. "The idea of it is to put together some strategic questions for them to analyze and to create that next three-year vision of where they want the business to go, understanding the market they might be in and evaluating opportunities for the business."

Cynthia Wolf of Creston attended the spring classes with the goal of obtaining fresh ideas and learning to better promote Upper Crust Culinary Creations, which she co-owns with Christy Nielsen.

"The class was smaller, so we all could communicate and bounce ideas off of each other, and I liked that part of it," Wolf said. "I was surprised there weren't more Creston business people who took advantage of it. There were people from out of the area, and they were all people from different types of businesses, so that was helpful because sometimes other businesses look at the same thing differently."

Wolf said closing the Upper Crust retail store and operating out of their homes has put a twist on the process of operating the business. She thought the class might help her understand how to better run a business from home.

"Some of the smaller businesses are ones that are starting from their homes, so I can give them input and they can give me input," Wolf said. "We can interconnect with each other and (exchange) ideas."

Pantini said other Creston residents who attended the first workshop included Dennis LaMasters of BuiltNetworks and Ron Jolly of Ron's Pest Solutions.

During the October classes, Pantini and Shay will help attendees hone business leadership skills and analyze the feasibility of starting or growing a business.

"The first session, we're going to discuss defining their own personal success within their business. They'll conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. We'll discuss creating a three-year vision and developing their business goals," Pantini said. "The second session, we'll talk about assessing their business readiness, skills needed to identify and analyze opportunities -- and then evaluating those opportunities for their business -- and discuss skills to conduct market research."

The two-session workshop will be held in the UCDA office at 208 W. Taylor St. Early-bird registration before Oct. 10 is $20. Walk-in registration is $25. Registration forms are available at the UCDA office or by calling 641-344-9725.

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