The character and personal growth required to become a successful small business owner is arguably one of the most challenging and rewarding professional choices that anyone can take on. Over the past few months, the Entrepreneur Fund has been able to contribute to visionary entrepreneurs in our region like Pier B, OMC Smokehouse, Alley A Realty, Lake Time Magazine and 24hr Bookkeeper as they hit milestones in their businesses and gained much deserved recognition for their hard work and success. One of my favorite parts of my job is seeing the end-result and success after years of aspiration and perseverance that better our communities. Each of these business owners, at some point, made a choice. They chose to set out towards a larger vision, stick to their core values, learn from their failures and courageously pursue opportunities for business growth. The result has been new investment, tax revenue, local leadership and job creation in our region.
While most of the people behind these businesses will passionately tell you their choice was worth it; each will come with their uniquely personal stories of set-backs, failures and test-what-you’re-made-of stories, rich in business and life lessons. Some published favorites include Daryl Erdman’s Scar Tissue: Lessons from the World of Entrepreneurship and Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry Changing Egg Farm – From Scratch.
At the Entrepreneur Fund, we actively partner with small business owners by providing financing and services to meet their goals. The path to pursuing business growth isn’t magical or elusive – and it’s not easy. Luckily, there are resources that can help along the way.
A Path to Learning How
- Build Your Network
Our region has an industrial landscape built largely around mining, shipping and other natural resource based industries - but the networks and influence of successful small business owners are growing, and are more vast than ever before.
The Iron Range is holding its first Entrepreneur’s on Tap event May 11 at the Discovery Center in Chisholm, which will feature a panel of accomplished small business owners from across the Iron Range.
- Connect with Expertise
Our region is chock-full of helpful organizations dedicated to helping small business owners succeed. It takes a village to grow, and there are many local options for business support:
- UMD’s Center for Economic Development (CED) – Consider their Profit Mastery workshops on financial management, connect with their wide range of consultants, and ask about their product development services through NRRI.
- Anderson Center – Their executive forums and manager series are fantastic for building leadership and managerial skills.
- APEX (Area Partnership for Economic Expansion)– This private, economic development group has been a key partner in connecting regional investors to local entrepreneurs.
Your One Stop Shop for Small Business Growth
The Entrepreneur Fund works with regional small business owners looking to grow. Our client relationships are based around the goals and aspirations they have as business owners. We provide financing up to $500,000, and bring operational and strategic consulting expertise to help navigate business growth. Our staff of entrepreneurs has small business experience and is the difference between a basic recommendation and proven results.
- Manage Your Growth
A great starting point is our Be Strategic: Grow Your Business Course. This 6-week (6 session) program is ideal for established businesses with 2-10 employees who want to grow revenues. With 6-10 other small business owners, participants create and implement a strategic business plan, while sharpening key operational skills.
A business advisor works with participants after the program to provide accountability, counsel and consulting to hit performance targets and overcome obstacles.
For businesses who have a good handle on operations and some experience implementing strategies, our Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®) service is great way to gain traction on implementing your vision while substantially improving your team’s health.
What About Business Operations?
Business ownership involves learning a lot of skills to run the day-to-day business operations and to build effective systems. You can’t grow or provide a good experience without solid operations. If you’re like most business owners, you excel in some of these areas, but could be better at others. Our staff and our cadre of private consultants have expertise in financial forecasting, financial management, HR, marketing and social media. We also partner and collaborate with organizations like UMD CED and Itasca Economic Development Corporation to leverage their trainings and staff expertise to meet your needs. Most of these services are offered at little or no cost.
Success Story: Michael Larson, Kondos Outdoors
Purchasing and Expanding a Great Company
Michael Larson leveraged the Entrepreneur Fund for financing and guidance on purchasing Kondos Outdoors, a 30-year old business located in Ely, MN. Dan and Vicki Kondos opened Kondos Outdoors in the 1980s to provide quality, hand-crafted outdoor gear for canoeing and dog sports. After 30 years of delivering outstanding products and building strong relationships with customers, it was time to pass the torch.
With a degree in business management and experience running his own web development services venture, Michael Larson was excited when he heard that Kondos Outdoors was seeking new ownership.
Through business planning and experienced guidance from the Entrepreneur Fund, Michael worked with the owners to craft a purchase agreement. Michael also enrolled in Be Strategic: Grow Your Business, and credits the program for improving his business performance and driving revenue growth. Read the full case study to learn more about Michael’s success with Kondos Outdoors.