Entrepreneurs: Truth, Myths, Uncertainties

By: Ted A. Baker, CEO/Executive Director, Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc.

As the Innovation Connector continues to spotlight entrepreneurs in the Muncie community during 2022, it is crucial to understand who entrepreneurs are, what makes them do what they do, and how they are an integral part of the business ecosystem? I have worked with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of individuals who claim to be entrepreneurs. Last month I wrote about the origins of entrepreneurship and submitted that an entrepreneur is one who undertakes a new venture.” While this is a broad definition, it does cover the wide range of the experiences of people I work with daily.   According to the Conference on Entrepreneurship, USA, the scope of entrepreneurship narrows to:

“Entrepreneurship is the attempt to create value through recognition of business opportunities, the management of risk-taking appropriate to the opportunity, and the communicative and management skills to mobilize human, financial and material resources necessary to bring a project to be fruitful.”

Keywords to point out in this definition include attempt, create value, business opportunities, risk-taking, and fruitful. I tend to think the correct definition lies somewhere in the middle, and we can recognize there are aspects of being an entrepreneur that are often misunderstood and cause confusion. Here are a few myths that I have encountered over the years.

  1. Entrepreneurs are extreme risk-takers and would resemble a Las Vegas gambler putting an entire life’s savings on “black” with the hopes of doubling the retirement fund. While some entrepreneurs display risky behavior, best practices indicate that successful entrepreneurs are “calculated risk-takers.” Research and validation should be part of any pre-startup business routine. Is my product/service needed in the marketplace? Will others spend money to buy it? Who is my ideal customer or market demographic that my product/service is trying to reach? An entrepreneur can alleviate much risk before launching the business by answering these questions and more. Are there risks with starting a business? Yes, of course? But by understanding proper risk management, an entrepreneur will not needlessly waste funds or take valuable time away from the development process.
  2. Entrepreneurs are rich. I am not rich so I cannot start a business. We can easily debunk this myth by observing those you know who have started a business. Rarely in my years of experience helping entrepreneurs, there have only been a few who have not needed some financial assistance or startup capital. When presenting or teaching on this topic, I explain it this way:

“If you ask 100 entrepreneurs what they need the most, 99 will immediately (and without any hesitation) say, MONEY! The one who did not respond this way wasn’t paying attention or did not hear the question.”

Sure, funds are needed to start or grow a business, but I have worked with many entrepreneurs who have started with very little cash and then figured out ways to make their business work. This method, often called “bootstrapping,” can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. Having cash can make things easier, but starting with little cash forces the entrepreneur to stay focused on the business and take care of details that matter the most.

  1. I have a business idea and a passion for starting a business – this will be easy!

There is definitely nothing easy about starting or growing a business. Being an entrepreneur is difficult. While having a good business idea is essential, being an entrepreneur entails understanding and executing nearly every aspect of business ownership. An entrepreneur must have a solid knowledge of the product/service, the market, marketing aspects, customer service, accounting, human resources, and more. Simply said, just because you are a skilled mechanic does not qualify you to be an entrepreneur or business owner. I have started and grown several businesses. And while I eventually was able to surround myself with capable team members, it was my ultimate responsibility to execute the business plan. Being successful or failing rested solely on my shoulders.

We can talk about other entrepreneurial myths, but I think the three I have shared are very important. I have worked through these myths with many entrepreneurs. While there are risks involved when starting a business, and available cash can be challenging, or the road might not be easy, it is important to understand that these issues are some of the very reasons that make entrepreneurs who they are. In next month’s article, we will interview two local entrepreneurs who have walked different journeys and yet still are successful.

If you want to know more about how to start a business or learn what the Muncie Innovation Connector can do to help you along this journey, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office (765-285-4900) to arrange a time to meet. Our community is fortunate to have excellent services to help existing businesses and business startups. Please remember,  you don’t have to take this journey on your own.

Ted A. Baker

Summer Classes are Back!

Innovation Connector is once again hosting unique and innovative programs for kids in Delaware County who are interested in working with technology in the future. In past summers, with the help of experts from TechWise Academy, Innovation Connector has offered workshops where kids have been able to learn about things like 3D printing, drone programming, app development, robotics, electrical engineering, and product design. We hope to have another productive summer helping the kids of our local community pursue an educational journey down the many avenues in the world of technology.

If interested, call Innovation Connector at (765) 285-4900 for more information about scholarships that are available for some of these programs. The schedule for this summer is as follows: 

Monday, June 6 – Friday, June 10 – 

  • Coding Club Camps: $165/student 
    • Register here for Grades K-2, 9 am – noon – 10 students 
    • Register here for Grades 3-5, 1 pm – 4 pm –  10 students 

Tuesday, July 5 – Friday, July 8 – 

  • Lego Space Camp: $165/student
    • Maximum 24 students
    • Middle-grade students (Grades 6-8) 
    • Register here

Friday, July 22 – Sunday, July 24 –

  • Check out Tech SparkIT Weekend (Free)
    • Middle-grade students (Grades 6-8) 
    • Maximum 30 participants
    • Friday: 5 pm – 9 pm
    • Saturday: 9 am – 7 pm
    • Sunday: noon – 5 pm
    • Register here

Resident Client Spotlight – Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is the Executive Director of the Muncie Sports Commission (munciesports.com). He’s been in the role of Executive Director since May of 2020 but has been working with the organization in a consulting role since 2017.

The Sports Commission’s purpose is to attract, create, host, and support sporting events and recreational opportunities for Delaware County. Through their work, they strive to increase economic vitality, improve quality of life, promote healthy lifestyles, and brand Delaware County as a great sports community.

Interested in learning more or getting involved? Email Jon at jon@munciesports.com or call 765-287-5951.

Celebrating Entrepreneurs in Muncie, Indiana

By: Ted A. Baker, CEO/Executive Director, Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc.

For the remainder of 2022, the Innovation Connector will be focusing its outreach efforts on “Celebrating Entrepreneurs.”  What an exciting concept, “celebrating entrepreneurs!”  While it seems fitting to celebrate entrepreneurs, what are we celebrating? Heck, most of us have trouble saying “entrepreneur,” and more cannot spell it. Let’s unpack this unique word, “entrepreneur,” and discover why it may be one of the most essential words for our community.

The word “entrepreneur” was coined by economic philosopher Jean-Baptiste Say; the word comes from French, “entrendre,” where it means “undertaker”—i.e., one who undertakes a new venture. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that economists seriously attempted to incorporate entrepreneurship into their models. Jean-Baptiste Say pointed out in his writings that it was entrepreneurs who sought out inefficient uses of resources and capital and moved them into more productive, higher-yield areas. Simply put, entrepreneurs seek profit opportunities and, by doing so, create new markets and fresh opportunities. By constantly disrupting the balance of competition, entrepreneurs prevent monopolies from forming and create a wide diversity of products that keep consumers consuming and producers producing.

So without entrepreneurs, would businesses that we see today exist? Would the innovative and disruptive products and services we enjoy today be part of our everyday lives? What about computers, the internet, modern modes of transportation, medical devices and life-saving drugs, cell phones, and streaming services? What about modern building methods, new ways to grow food to feed the world, and cutting-edge advances in education and teaching? Then we also have to think … what about war defense systems, weapons that kill, and matchmaking websites by the dozens?

Yes, this is the world in which we live our daily lives. Let’s bring this down to us here in Muncie, IN. Entrepreneurs like the Fabulous Five, better known as the Ball Brothers, Jim Davis, Garfield, and US Engineering Company, invented machine gun clips that helped the Allied forces win WW2. And we continue to be surrounded by inventors and entrepreneurs in the Muncie community. 

“Lathay Peagues brought us John-Toms BBQ Sauce; Murray Jewelers created an interlocking ring set that is patented and unique. Also, Ron Fauquher and Wil Davis founded Ontario Systems, Inc. (now Finvi,) an accounts receivable and collections software business, bringing hundreds of high-paying jobs to Muncie. And a newer endeavor by Mike Martin and his team, The Common Market, serving a community in need of revitalization and a restored belief in who they are.”

This list is only the beginning of a long list of entrepreneurs who have changed the business landscape in our community. These entrepreneurs have taken calculated risks when others would not. They invested their saving and extended credit to bring their businesses to life. They have worked extremely hard, long hours to make their ideas and businesses successful. 

The Muncie community is an excellent place for businesses to start and grow. Residents are willing to try new products and services and support new businesses. If you doubt this, try dining at a newly opened restaurant! Muncie also has a unique quality that is important for the business ecosystem. From years ago, I remember the words painted on the outside of Gommel’s Meat Market that were true for their business and our community: “We are big enough to serve you but small enough to care.”  Muncie has the resources to bring great things to its residents while knowing who it serves. We are successful because of forged relationships and long-time friendships.

The Muncie Journal will feature an article each month written by a team member of the Innovation Connector with one purpose in mind: to celebrate entrepreneurs in the Muncie community. Entrepreneurs who have made Muncie a great place to live and work. Entrepreneurs who will lead us in the next generation of products, inventions, and services.

We look forward to you following us on this journey.

Ted A. Baker

Resident Client Spotlight – Peggy Cenova

 

Resident Client Spotlight – Peggy Cenova

Peggy Cenova has been the Regional Director of the East Central Indiana SBDC since 2011. The Indiana Small Business Development Centers help Hoosier entrepreneurs’ businesses start, grow, and flourish.

Need help starting a business or improving the one you have?
Reach out to the East Central Indiana SBDC by emailing them at  or calling them at 765.282.9950.

Nevertheless – First Session

Nevertheless, a Business Sisterhood, was nothing short of an amazing business and connection gaining experience for the women who participated in the first program at Innovation Connector. Nevertheless is an opportunity for women business owners to connect and meet with other women entrepreneurs to discuss their experiences and learn from each other. These successful women met every other week to learn, challenge and share with one another.

While at Nevertheless, the women were not only able to share their goals and successes but their stresses and frustrations with women who may have the same experiences. It was an opportunity to listen to other professionals share about their business, branding, the enneagram and much more. The sisterhood met at the Innovation Connector but also had meetings at Rosebud Coffee House and Re/Max in Yorktown.

The first Nevertheless recently ended and there is no doubt the next group of women will benefit from participating in this experience.  Since the first session ended, the group has already met again to have a cooking demonstration and looks to continue to meet as a group once a month to maintain those relationships created in Nevertheless. We are looking forward to the future of Nevertheless, A Business Sisterhood, at Innovation Connector.  

Meet our New Team Member

The Innovation Connector is pleased to announce a new team member, Natalie Smith. Smith will serve as the Program and Events Coordinator. In this role, she will be coordinating events, program operations, and have administrative responsibilities as well. The first face you see when you walk into the building will be this one!

Smith was born and raised in Muncie, IN and graduated from Muncie Central High School in 2018. She is currently in her last semester at Ball State University, graduating this May with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with a concentration in Event Management. 

Smith has previously worked in event management through a local wedding venue as well as a women’s networking group based out of Indianapolis. Smith loves the high energy and ever-changing environment. “I cannot wait to start planning and attending the events here at Innovation Connector. I’ve always worked for small businesses and have always been drawn to them, so it will be a great combination of my experiences,” Smith says. 

Entrepreneurship is right up Smith’s alley, as she has created her own Instagram account repurposing clothes and selling products that she makes with her Cricut machine. In her free time, she enjoys making cups with her Cricut and spending time with friends and family. She loves the Muncie community and wants to see it thrive as best as it can.

The Innovation Connector is Muncie/Delaware County’s only full-service business incubator. The Innovation Connector’s mission is to see job creation by providing guidance and entrepreneurial resources for individuals seeking to start or grow businesses in East Central Indiana.  Our passion is to see that each person who has a dream to start or grow a business has every resource to be successful and the economy of East Central Indiana flourishes. The services offered at IC include networking and connections, financial and accounting assistance, marketing help, and business consulting and coaching services, as well as providing office space for businesses.  

1208 WEST WHITE RIVER BLVD | MUNCIE, IN 47303 | PHONE: 765-285-4900 

Resident Client Spotlight – Josh Mathews

Josh Mathews, Regional Vice President of Primerica, is located in Suite 106 at the Innovation Connector.

Josh has been helping families save and invest since 2008 and has been renting space at the Innovation Connector for many of those years.

Josh works with adults of all ages and stages of their savings and retirement process.

We’re Hiring!

The Innovation Connector is Hiring:


The Muncie Innovation Connector, Inc., east-central Indiana’s only full-service Entrepreneurship Support Organization and Business Incubator, is expanding its team by adding a PROGRAM AND EVENTS COORDINATOR. Part of the responsibilities of this position includes serving as the Innovation Connector’s Administrative Assistant. The right candidate will possess excellent communication skills (written and verbal) and experience with Microsoft Office. Experience with non-profit programming and events coordination is preferred.

The Innovation Connector is located in the heart of Muncie, IN, at the corner of West White River Blvd. and Jackson Street. The Innovation Connector offers a professional and beautiful office environment. This position is full-time with a compensation range starting at $18.00 – $20.00/hr., and will be 100% in-person at the Innovation Connector. Regular office hours are 8 am – 4 pm M-F, but may require some evenings and weekends. Some benefits are included depending on experience, skillsets, and availability. Employment is to begin as soon as possible.

Resumes are being accepted now only by email to tbaker@innovationconnector.com. Please no phone calls or other inquiries. 

Resident Client Spotlight – Bill Walters

Bill Walters, a longtime advocate for the Innovation Connector, is the Executive Director of East Central Indiana Regional Planning District.

Their mission is to serve the local governments of Blackford, Delaware and Grant Counties along with the City of Portland by fostering a vision for regional economic growth through grant writing, facilitating, infrastructure improvements, supporting economic development and promoting quality of life and community enhancements.