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