Empowering Entrepreneurs in 2023

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

MUNCIE, IN—After a successful initiative last year, Celebrating Entrepreneurs in 2022, the Innovation Connector has chosen a new theme for 2023: Empowering Entrepreneurs in 2023. While we will continue celebrating entrepreneurs, we believe the next step is to provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners to be empowered – to learn, collaborate, and share their knowledge with others.  As I have expressed in prior articles, one key trait of a successful entrepreneur involves being a lifelong learner.  Because of rapidly changing technology, consumer market changes, continual demographic shifts, and current workforce shortages, it is now more critical than ever for businesses to understand the business landscape so changes and pivots can be made if necessary.

There are several ways for entrepreneurs and business owners to be lifelong learners.  First, be a reader.  This is the easiest way to engage in the learning process.  Books are available for nearly every topic, problem, opportunity, motivation, business success and failure, how to start a business, how to end a company, and the list goes on and on.  I did a quick Google search, “books about business and entrepreneurs,” resulting in 102 million hits in .74 seconds.  No one may know the exact number of books that have been written on this subject, but one thing we do know – it is a significant number! I have read many books on these topics and have accumulated quite a library.  I often utilize concepts I have learned from reading, which I can apply to my work at the Innovation Connector.  Subject matter experts share their knowledge for others to learn. We can learn so much from their advice and experiences.

Our reading does not have to be limited to only books. Reading articles from various publications can provide great insight into successful entrepreneurship.  Articles are usually topic-focused, meaning they are written with a limited topic scope.  An example would be an article about the legal issues of starting a business compared to a book that would include this topic in “How to Start a Business.”  Articles are easier to write, allowing for a greater range of thoughts on topics.  And there are plenty of written articles.  Again, a simple Google search, this time for “articles on entrepreneurs and business,” yielded 205 million hits in just.47 seconds.  I love reading articles for one simple reason – they are short!   Everyone in the business world is busy.  Our available time is limited.  Reading an article or two when I have the right time is meaningful, and I learn a lot.

Again, there are articles written about every business topic.  I recommend you find a magazine or publication that appeals and start creating a regular reading routine.  Karl LaPan, Director, UF Innovate/ Accelerate @ The Hub & Sid Martin BioTech, and a leading international expert on business development, is an avid reader and writer.  He believes entrepreneurs and business leaders must read regularly.  He writes, “Passionate entrepreneurs are engaged learners, and agile learning is integral to your relevance. By prioritizing agile learning, Founders foster a high-performance culture, nurture higher levels of engagement within their organization, and promote adaptability, intellectual curiosity, and collaboration between themselves, their stakeholders, and especially with their customers.”

A second way to be a lifelong learner is to network with like-minded leaders and people who inspire and challenge you.  This usually involves one-on-one time with others, including mentors, other leaders in their field, and maybe even a business coach.  Each of these is based on developed relationships.  This is one of the most meaningful and impactful ways to learn.  Ryan Carruthers, Content Marketing Manager at Together Software, expresses this in an article, 7 Reasons Mentorship is Integral to Growing Your Career.  She says, “A mentor will support you, cheer you on, provide feedback and advice, and help you define and reach your goals.  It can be a key relationship in your life and potentially impact your choices and career trajectory significantly.”

Being a business owner can be very lonely.  Because of sensitive topics that a business owner deals with, such as financial issues, employee changes, and a possible sale of the business, to name a few, it is not wise for a business owner to share this information with others in the business.  Many owners then keep this information to themselves and try to process how to handle it.  A trusted network of wise and experienced people can be a lifeline to the owner.  From my experiences, my contacts have always been willing to listen, provide opinions and advice, and, most importantly, encourage me.

I have attended many professional conferences during my time in business and my role at the Innovation Connector.  While learning subject material at these conferences is valuable and important, some of the most valuable takeaways are from discussions with my peers before and after sessions, in the conference lobby and hallways, and even during a meal.  And as a result of these experiences, I have accumulated a list of colleagues and experts I can contact anytime if needed. And I also am a resource for these colleagues.  Relationships matter and are a must for the lifelong learning journey.

A third way to be a lifelong learner is to attend conferences, workshops, and seminars, online or in-person, to develop skills, gain new ideas, and become more informed about subject matters of interest.  As I previously mentioned, I have attended many conferences and learning sessions during my professional career.  While some sessions may be different from what I was hoping for in the delivery of content, I have always been able to learn something.  And there is no shortage of events you can attend. Business associations usually host conferences that members and guests can attend.  Universities and colleges offer a plethora of business, and relevant events in that one can learn by participating.  Some organizations host workshops, seminars, webinars, and panel discussions in nearly every community.  This is true for the Muncie community.  The Indiana Small Business Development Center and The Shafer Leadership Academy, located in the Innovation Connector, offer various relevant events that community members can attend.  Both organizations provide quality and professional programming.  Please visit their websites (www.shaferleadership.com and https://isbdc.org/locations/east-central-indiana-sbdc/ ) to see what is being offered in 2023.

The Innovation Connector also hosts many events throughout the year. As part of our mission to “Empower Entrepreneurs in 2023,” the Innovation Connector is ramping up the number of programs offered in 2023.  This is being done as a direct result of the impact of the recent Entrepreneur Showcase Week.  A few examples of what is being planned include:

  • Providing Excellent Client Experiences – Based on the Disney model
  • Learning to Excel with Excel
  • Several workshops about marketing for small businesses, including social media and geofencing, and analytics
  • A course about Enneagram and how knowing your “number” can help in everyday life and business – presented by Jennifer Stanley
  • Coding Clubs, robotics, programming drones, and summer day camps for students in grades 2-8.
  • What parents and caretakers should know about their children’s devices, the internet, apps like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and more
  • Securing your business’s internet, computers, and personal devices
  • What is Square Space?
  • Presentation Design
  • Women’s Peer Group Experience
  • Funding Opportunities for your business
  • And more…

Starting in February, a rolling list of courses offered by the Innovation Connector can be found at www.innovationconnectorevents.com.  Registration information, dates and times, and prices will also be posted on this website. Our office phone number is 765-285-4900 – Monday – Friday from 8 am – 4 pm, or email Natalie Smith, Events and Program Coordinator, at nsmith@innovationconnector.com.

This new year, 2023, is a perfect time to begin or continue our lifelong learning journeys.  I wish you well.


Stop by the Innovation Connector and participate in our HEADSHOT MARATHON. February 17th from 9 am – 4 pm Foto Therapy will be taking headshots for the affordable price of $75. Registration here.


Save the Date: Entrepreneur Showcase Week is Back 2023!

In November 2022, the Innovation Connector hosted the first annual Entrepreneur Showcase Week to learn, network, and celebrate with the community’s entrepreneurs. The week was a huge success. Entrepreneur Showcase Week will return in 2023 with an exciting new theme of “Empowering Entrepreneurs”! Mark your calendars for November 13th – 17th for a fun, educational, and empowering week for entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs. Stay tuned for more information over the coming months about what’s in store for Entrepreneur Showcase Week 2023. Learn more

Resident Client Spotlight – Judy Porter

Judy Porter was hired as the Administrative Assistant for the East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center in May 2015. She is primarily responsible for database management, scheduling training events, connecting new clients with Business Advisors, as well as other various tasks.

The East Central Indiana SBDC engages with small business owners through no-cost, one-on-one support and community workshops that facilitate connections to people, tools, and resources that help clients start, grow, finance, innovate, and transition their businesses. We are proudly hosted by Ball State University.  

For more information about the East Central Indiana SBDC, please visit our website at isbdc.org or call 765-282-9950

Coding Connector: Registration Now Open!

Coding Club is back and ready for new students to indulge in all things coding!
The Coding Club meets every Thursday from 5:30-6:30 pm (K-2nd grade) and 7:00-8:00 pm (3rd-5th grade) at the Innovation Connector.

Classes start January 12th and run till April 13th, with no classes on March 9th or March 23rd. Students with little to no experience are welcome as students who are interested in learning more.

Register your student(s) to learn more about a variety of coding topics and practices like programming, robotics, game design, and more.

Register here

Resident Client Spotlight – Mitch Isaacs

Mitch Isaacs was named Shafer Leadership Academy’s Executive Director in May 2015. In this role, he works closely with the organization’s board of directors to fulfill the mission of the organization. He is responsible for creating vision, connecting with stakeholders, administering program offerings, and leading the organization in meaningful ways. Mitch is an active member of the Muncie community. He is committed to enhancing the leadership skills of the community and dedicated to Shafer Leadership Academy’s mission to ensure that individuals who have the desire to demonstrate leadership have access to world class leadership training close to home. Find out more about the Shafer Leadership Academy at www.shaferleadership.com.

Power Questions for Leaders: A Four-Week Course

Impact Leadership requires authenticity, humility, and balance.

Purpose: The goal of this class – To equip you with powerful questions that will help you lead with authenticity, humility, and balance.

Foundation: The Foundational Beliefs – Everyone is leading someone. Your most important leadership work is within yourself.


Session 1 – Authenticity & Humility

Session 2: Stress & Security

Session 3: Balance

Session 4: Impact Leadership

Prerequisite: Before you take this class – It is not required for you to know your number. However, taking a simple test before class will help you narrow down and confirm your number as we work through the class.

Here is an inexpensive, simple test which may help you narrow down your number consideration: Enneagram Institute – www.enneagraminstitute.com $12.


Price $149 total for all 4 sessions. Please register on this website (Eventbrite) to attend the workshops. By registering here, you are registering for the whole course – the price includes all 4 sessions.


Please email Jennifer Stanley at jenstanley1213@gmail.com or contact nsmith@innovationconnector.com.


Provide Your Clients with Excellent Customer Experience with this NEW Class

It’s almost time for Entrepreneur Showcase Week! We’ve got 20 great events in one week for those of you wanting to learn more about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Our newest added class, Providing Excellent Customer Experience, will be a practical session for all business owners and entrepreneurs discussing various aspects of excellent experiences and ways to implement them into their daily business. Join us for this FREE class on Thursday, November 17, 2022 from 6:00- 7:30 PM. You don’t want to miss this incredible event. You can register now at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/newly-added-providing-excellent-client-experiences-tickets-449427258027  See you there!

Enneagram 101 – A Free Introductory Course

Maybe you’ve heard a lot about the Enneagram? Maybe you’ve even taken an online test?  But, what’s the real use and benefit of the Enneagram and knowing your number?

Join us for this free introductory workshop that will not only introduce you to the history, structure, and benefits of the Enneagram but also help you begin to truly discover your Enneagram number. This workshop will be led by Jennifer Stanley, an Enneagram guide and founder of Living Well. Jennifer is a relatable, fun, and knowledgeable teacher who will help you take practical steps toward number discovery and why it matters in your life, business, and relationships.

This workshop will be held on October 31st from 8-10 am and also on November 8th from 6-7 pm at the Innovation Connector located at 1208 W White River Blvd, Muncie, IN 47303.

RSVP at nsmith@innovationconnector.com.


Resident Client Spotlight – Tisha Gierhart

 Tisha Gierhart was hired as Shafer Leadership Academy’s first Program Director in January 2014. She is primarily responsible for all activities related to the development, delivery, and assessment of leadership programs presented by Shafer Leadership Academy. In this role, she focuses on building collaborative relationships with Shafer Leadership Academy’s participants and partners. Her work reflects her passion for making a difference, building relationships, and motivating others. She believes in leading by example and developing purposeful connections. Find out more about the Shafer Leadership Academy at www.shaferleadership.com.