Summer Programs at the Innovation Connector

Need summer plans for the kids? Innovation Connector and Techwise Academy have a list of fun, immersive, educational, and hands-on summer program opportunities for middle and elementary school students this summer at the Innovation Connector! Explore our classes and see which ones are best for your child(ren). Click here to learn more!

Spotlight – School-Based Behavior Consultation (SBBC)

School-Based Behavior Consultation (SBBC) focuses on skill development & challenging behavior reduction for student success! SBBC provides Home & School-Based ABA therapy for ages 2-18+, Early Learners ABA Center for ages 2-6, School Readiness Center for ages 2-18+, and Comprehensive Behavior Support through Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation for adolescents, young adults, and beyond. SBBC is committed to helping those we serve “reach new heights” through the use of ABA and in collaboration with other specialists, school staff, caregivers, and the students we serve.

Employee Spotlight: Natalie Smith

Natalie Smith has been working for the Innovation Connector for a year now! She is the Program and Events Coordinator here. Natalie is a 2022 graduate of Ball State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Event Management. She has ample experience in event planning working at multiple local venues. She also recently joined the Advisory Board of the Boss Babe Network based in Indianapolis. It is a women’s networking organization that includes events, networking, and much more.

As Natalie has multiple roles in her life, she is focused on growing her career here in Muncie. If you have any interest in hosting business events and meetings here at the Innovation Connector, you can reach Natalie at  or call 765-285-4900.

Starting and Operating a Business is Hard…and a BIG Announcement

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

MUNCIE, IN—Starting or growing a business is not easy.  If you have been involved at any level of business ownership, you know this.  Throughout my life, I have started several businesses and worked hard to see them grow.  I know firsthand the long hours I invested in ensuring details were taken care of and deadlines met.  (Many times, 60+ hours per week.)  From taking care of legal business startup details, sourcing suppliers, hiring employees, marketing to customers, finding funding, and setting up QuickBooks, it seemed like more work always needed to be done.

Managing and operating an ongoing business presents unique struggles too.  The single most critical aspect for early-stage business owners is understanding Cash Flow.  Without cash, the business will not exist for very long. Employees, vendors, government and taxing entities, lease payments, and others requiring payment cannot be paid with IOUs.  Cash flow management is the number one issue with most of the business clients I meet with. As a former business owner, I understand this concept due to experiencing the trauma of my business having difficult cash flow issues.  There were many times when I was the last person in the business to receive a paycheck (sometimes weeks or more.)  Employees and bills had to be paid first to keep the business operating. Suppliers required payment within certain terms, but those terms rarely matched when customers paid us. A myth states, “if you own a business, you are rich!” (I’ll take a moment to allow business owners reading this article to have a collective laugh.) But hopefully, if you can hold on long enough, the business will grow and have more financial sustainability.

And to complicate matters more, many entrepreneurs have little or no cash to start their businesses.  But because of belief in their dreams and abilities, they start their journeys by bootstrapping. According to Will Kenton’s article published in Investopedia.com on January 9, 2023, “It is not uncommon for many businesses to start by bootstrapping.  Bootstrapping describes a situation in which an entrepreneur starts a company with little capital, relying on money other than outside investments. An individual is said to be bootstrapping when they attempt to found and build a company from personal finances or the operating revenues of the new company.”  Bootstrapping tends to be a slower way of starting and growing a business, but for many, it is the only way!   This is when we see one of the qualities of an entrepreneur – tenacity and stick-to-it grit!

The Innovation Connector works daily with entrepreneurs and business owners dealing with many issues, struggles, and growth ideas. It is very difficult for us to know what help entrepreneurs and business leaders need if they do not contact us. I have heard of business owners who needed assistance finding funding to keep their storefronts open or others needing help understanding their cash flow situations. But again, we can do little if we do not know the need.   We promise that if you contact us, we will reply. The Muncie community is fortunate to have several organizations whose mission is to help entrepreneurs.  If our organization cannot provide the help your business needs, we do our best to make connections that will. We also educate and empower entrepreneurs and business owners through regular workshops, seminars, and courses.  We intentionally offer courses that are relevant and important to the current needs of businesses.

Last November, we did something radical that had never been done anywhere before.  We celebrated Entrepreneur Showcase Week – a weeklong offering of twenty-one events focused on helping any person or business owner who sought to improve their business acumen.  Courses about marketing, finding capital, bookkeeping/accounting, computer and IT needs, mental health awareness, customer service, and others were offered – and all FREE of charge.  It was our way to pull out the stops to help our business community. Over 800 people joined us at the Innovation Connector and participated in events that week. Since Entrepreneur Showcase Week, we have been extremely busy with follow-up sessions with entrepreneurs who asked for additional help.  And again, these services have all been FREE! One of the big takeaways of that week was the interactions between attendees and the continued collaboration.  Building these relationships has been a lifeline for some struggling business owners. If you or your business needs some assistance or need to talk with someone about your business, please contact our office at 765-285-4900. Our services are FREE and CONFIDENTIAL.

Now, for the BIG Announcement

We are pleased to announce that year two of Entrepreneur Showcase Week will take place at the Innovation Connector from November 13 – 17, 2023.  Included this year during Entrepreneur Showcase Week, back by popular demand, The BIG Idea Pitch will take place on Thursday evening, November 16, 2023.  Additional information will be released in the coming months, but please mark your calendars now for this very special week. In the meantime, please visit our website, www.innovationconnector.com, for updates.

The Innovation Connector encourages you to support our community’s local businesses however you can. We are all in this together, so let’s work together.  At the Innovation Connector, WE EMPOWER ENTREPRENEURS

1208 W. White River Blvd.
Muncie, IN 47303
(765) 285-4900
https://innovationconnector.com

Mastering the Basics of Excel: 2-day Evening Session

Spotlight – Complete Technology Solutions

Complete Technology Solutions has provided expert IT support since 2001, helping hundreds of businesses increase productivity and profitability by making IT a streamlined part of operations. Our mission is to deliver the latest technology consulting, services, maintenance, and support as a highly cost-effective IT solution in order to maximize our client’s productivity and profitability.

They specialize in providing nationwide IT support, management, and consulting services exclusively to the multifamily industry. You and your leasing teams spend no time on IT. Spend less time on IT and more time growing your portfolio.

Side Gigs and Side Hustles

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

MUNCIE, IN—Over the past years, the Innovation Connector has become the Muncie community’s hub for business startup and growth assistance.  Calls and emails come to us nearly every day from entrepreneurs and hopeful business startup owners asking for assistance in some way.  Regular requests include the need for funds to start or grow a business, help formally organize the business as an LLC or S-Corp, and some turn to us for encouragement.  Most who contact us for assistance already have full-time employment but want to start “something” on the side. Starting a business is difficult, even starting a side gig, and requires funding for initial startup costs and ramping up the business.

In most cases, when starting a business, it can take one year or more to be profitable and have a positive cash flow.  Therefore, a steady source of funds is needed to pay for personal and household expenses and to feed the new business venture.  This is why maintaining current employment is so important – without cash, your household will suffer, and your business will fail. For this reason, if a person wants to start a business, full-time employment may need to be maintained to keep the household afloat during the initial stages of business development. Businesses started in addition to a full-time job are often called side gigs or side hustles. Chris Guillebeau, the author of Side Hustle, says, “it’s an asset that works for you.”

The Importance of Side Hustles

Side gigs are an important part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.  According to Zippia, the Career Expert, October 12, 2022, by Jack Flynn, 45% of Americans had a side hustle in 2022, with an average monthly income of $483.   The global gig economy is expected to be worth $455 billion by the end of 2023. And Americans spend an average of 13 hours per week on side hustles.  People often start working side hustles to earn passive income and use the money as extra disposable income. The top industries and categories of work for side hustles include online and social media, freelancing, selling crafts and art, ridesharing (Uber, Lyft,) delivery services, and software development.

Side hustle choices are often connected to a person’s area of expertise or experience. For others, the side hustle may be completely different.  I have a friend who worked in IT for a major university and drove for Uber Eats in the evenings and on Saturdays.  The extra money he earns delivering food is significant – often $500 – $750 weekly. I know another person who drives for Uber and Lyft during hours he is not working his regular full-time job.  When he was downsized at his job, his side hustle became a source of income for his family.  He started accepting more rides during daytime hours; before long, he was netting over $1,400 weekly.  In this case, this person’s side hustle provided extra income and served as a safety net in case of job situation changes that happened.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Side Hustle

I found an interesting blog post on the Washington Trust Bank’s website that mentions some pros and cons of starting a side hustle.  The following content is excerpted from that blog.

The Pros:

Turning a passion into a money-making opportunity has some distinct benefits. If starting a side hustle sounds appealing, consider the upside:

  1. Enhancing your career. While it may seem counterintuitive, establishing a side hustle can create a competitive advantage in your career. Depending on the chosen path, developing skills that complement your day job may be possible. Exposure to a different line of work can broaden your experience and contribute to a fresh perspective on addressing challenges in the workplace.
  2. Mixing it up. A side hustle can provide a welcome change of pace from the usual 9 to 5, particularly if it involves using another part of your brain. If you’re normally writing code for 40 hours a week, a weekend working as a wedding photographer might be a refreshing break from the ordinary. Or your side hustle might provide an opportunity to give back to the community in ways you can’t manage during the work week.
  3. Growing your network. If you are promoting a side hustle, you’ll likely meet people that might not cross your path in your normal line of business. You can make new contacts for your side hustle; some may benefit your day job. Additionally, you might find your social circle widening when meeting others who share or appreciate your passion.
  4. Developing a creative outlet. Crunching numbers all day may pay the bills, but it may not provide the level of creativity you crave. A side hustle can provide a creative outlet without forcing you to sacrifice the financial security of your day job.
  5. Supplementing your income. Many people start a side hustle to supplement their income. If relying on this additional cash flow, be sure to calculate anticipated expenses to ensure that the venture will pencil out. As a side hustle takes off, it can provide a cushion in an emergency or unexpected change in your employment situation.

The Cons:

As with most situations, a side hustle’s positive attributes are tempered by some drawbacks:

  1. Reducing your downtime. If working full-time during the week and dedicating the weekends to side hustle, you may be robbing yourself of enough downtime to relax and enjoy pursuits that don’t involve making money or marketing yourself. This always-on mindset can be wearing, and if others – partners, spouses, children, and even pets – are in the picture, there’s a danger of leaving some feeling neglected.
  2. Becoming distracted at work. A side hustle that becomes all-consuming could have dire career consequences. If your passion project is taking too much time and energy, there is a risk that your day job – and main source of income – could suffer. Before embarking on a side hustle, limit how many hours you can devote to it and stick to them.
  3. Adding more stress. Filling valuable time with more work, even a passion project, may pile on the stress. In addition to taking time away from friends and family, a side hustle will require additional record keeping and may complicate tax filings. Additionally, if your project involves custom work for clients, you’ll be pressed to keep them happy to ensure referrals or repeat business.
  4. Determining your worth. It can be difficult to put a price tag on your work. Do research to determine the going rate for similar products or services, and don’t sell yourself short. You’ll be responsible for collecting payment and setting a fair price, so establish your expectations upfront.

Conclusion:

If you need assistance setting up and organizing a side hustle or want to discuss how they work, don’t hesitate to contact our team at the Innovation Connector – 765-285-4902 or tbaker@innovationconnector.com.  The Innovation Connector has many services and connections to assist you in your journey.

In next month’s article, I will be making a very special announcement. Stay tuned.

Resident Client Spotlight – Ethan Snyder

4/4 Solutions is a social media agency helping small businesses utilize social media as a way to help promote their businesses. By creating quality, engaging content, 4/4 Solutions helps businesses retain customers and find new ones. Our clients reached over 3 million people in 2022 and we look forward to an equally amazing 2023!

Join manufacturing and technology experts as they break down the myths and obstacles to integrating Industry 4.0 technologies into your organization.
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 3 – 6 PM

Enneagram 5-Week Workshop

Enneagram Workshop is back for a 5-Week course filled with practical and personalized tools for a healthier life, business, and relationships with Jennifer Stanley.

Intro Course: March 29 11:30 am – 1:00 pm | 6 -7:30 pm Cost: FREE
5-Week Course: April 5 | April 12 | April 19 | April 26 | May 3. 11:30 am – 1:00 pm | 6 -7:30 pm Cost: $149 for 5-Weeks
Register Here!
Enneagram 101 Workshop

Enneagram 5-Week Course