The life of an entrepreneur is a series of constant rejection, red tape, high barriers to entry, and lack of support. However, the life of an entrepreneur can also be exhilarating, engaging, community-supported, and establish you as a strong member of the community. No one says that being an entrepreneur is easy, the resources available to entrepreneurs in Kansas, and especially in the Salina area, are meant to assist entrepreneurs and support them all the way up until the grand opening and beyond. On Thursday, September 15th, the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Lender’s Luncheon for the lending members of the Chamber of Commerce. Listed below are few of the resources that were presented that are available to entrepreneurs in Kanas and the Salina area.
The Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC)
Partnering with the Chamber of Commerce, Susan Penka is a small business advisor for the KSBDC, a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA), and a small business owner. Penka shared what the KSBDC has to offer to entrepreneurs of Kansas and what the goals of the organization are. For starters, the KSBDC is a part of the overarching America’s Small Business Development Center which means that they have obtained funding from federal, state, and local channels that allows them to provide their services at no-to-low cost to their clients. The KSBDC is the perfect first point of contact for any entrepreneur and especially for the entrepreneur that has no clue how to get started, what they need to do next, where they need to go, how to obtain funding, how to manage, market, and finance a business, and so much more. Utilizing a wide network of professionals, many of which have owned a small business themselves, the KSBDC should be taken advantage of to their fullest potential.
So, what is their process and their goal?
The end goal of a client working with the KSBDC is to obtain funding from a bank in order to launch their business. However, everyone that reaches out to the KSBDC is at different starting points, ranging from concept to launch. Many have nothing started and just need direction, while others have a fully constructed business plan that needs bank required revision. Meeting with the organization will lend a helping hand and work to get you into the mindset of an entrepreneur. Services such as business plan assistance and review, financial projections, marketing research, and even exit planning are all included within the five-step process to starting a business:
For more information on the Kansas Small Business Development Center in the Salina area, please visit: https://www.fhsu.edu/ksbdc/
Sarah LaRosh with Network Kansas as well spoke at the Lenders Luncheon on Thursday and spoke on the great things that the organization is doing to promote small business growth and assist budding entrepreneurs. LaRosh began by explaining that NetWork Kansas is dedicated to the e-community, or the entrepreneurship community, and that it is their duty to connect entrepreneurs and small business owners to the right resources. NetWork Kansas has identified three key areas that the e-community has demonstrated a need for assistance in – expertise, education, and economic resources. To assist in these three needs, the organization offers classes, connections, and capital. The organization has created many opportunities and has partnered with a variety of other organizations to offer only the best services to entrepreneurs at little-to-no cost.
NetWork Kansas has partnered with education providers across the state to provide free courses to anyone who registers. These courses can cover everything from importing and exporting, to marketing and networking, or even to accounting and tax planning, and there is so much more available! The organization as well runs a referral center for entrepreneurs allowing you to connect with resources you may not normally have had access to, or even really knew existed. Connecting you with the e-community across Kansas, organizations like 1 Million Cups, and different various organizations, NetWork Kansas is here to help you network and learn. NetWork Kansas offers gap financing and loans, as well as access to some small grant funding. There are local, statewide, and specialty type loans available and a variety of criteria you must meet to qualify with some limits. If you are able to acquire 40% of your loan from a bank or public lender, then there are some options to obtain the other 60% of your total project limit. NetWork Kansas also provides women and minorities access to specialty type loans. In order to qualify for grant funding of up to 20% of your project you will be scored on several aspects of your business, and you must score according to their requirements. All lending decisions, including grant access, are decided locally, by local community members to promote community growth and development.
For more information on NetWork Kansas, please visit: https://www.networkkansas.com
Renee Dexler, the Economic and Workforce Development Director with the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, was the last speaker at Thursday's luncheon. Dexler spoke about Project Open, a resource to those around the Salina Area. Project Open is designed to assist entrepreneurs in making their business dream become a business reality. They do this by building skills and knowledge in running a small business and help you develop a realistic business plan, expand your existing business, find financial resources, and build your network. Partnering with K-State Salina, Project Open offers free business training courses in areas such as marketing, management, and strategy. Like NetWork Kansas, Project Open also offers access to local and state funding with the potential to get up to 60% of your projects total cost if you can secure 40% of the total cost from a bank or public funding. Project Open also offers a $5000 business development grant to qualifying businesses to use at their discretion. However, as wonderful as these opportunities are, there is still a few requirements to qualify which include mandatory attendance at the K-State partnered Project Open classes. All funding-based decisions are made at the local level, keeping the commitment to bettering our community, close to home.
For more information on Project Kansas, please visit: https://projectopensalina.com
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I really enjoyed reading your blog post about the resources available to entrepreneurs through the KSBDC and Network Kansas. It's great to see organizations that provide support and guidance for people starting their own businesses. I particularly appreciated the information about the Project Open program and how it can help entrepreneurs access funding and resources. Keep up the good work in sharing valuable information with aspiring business owners!
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Salina Area Chamber of Commerce