There’s no shortage of help out there for people who want to start a business. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
“We have some pretty cool success stories,” said Alan Badgley of the Kansas Small Business Development Center. “But almost everyone will tell you, ‘It was more painful and cost more than I expected.’ But almost everyone will tell you, ‘I’m glad I did it.’ ”
The center’s regional office is based at Wichita State University. It’s a good place to start looking for help, and not just for the services it offers. It’s linked to 32 other agencies and organizations – ranging from the U.S. Small Business Association to the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – that also offer services to people interested in starting or expanding businesses.
The center offers a three-step approach to budding entrepreneurs. First, the aspiring businesses are asked to attend a two-hour workshop called “Meeting the 3Ms: Learning the Basics of Money, Marketing and Management.”
The workshops are held three or four times each month.
With that background, participants are asked to fill out a self-assessment form describing their potential business, target audience and other information, and also provide a credit report.
The third step is meeting individually with a staff member at the center.
Center officials say they have helped more than 350 people start businesses during the past five years.
Here’s a look at some other organizations geared toward entrepreneurs:• Wichita Technology Corp., which provides consulting services and seed capital investment for technology-related businesses; wichitatechnology.com
• Heartland Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which helps businesses market their products and services to federal, state and local governments; www.mssu.edu/heartlandptac/
• Patent and Trademark Information Center at the Wichita State University Libraries, which can assist with areas of intellectual property.
• South Central Kansas Economic Development District, which administers several Small Business Administration loans in the area; www.sckedd.org