By: Mike Rhodes—
Muncie, IN—Many entrepreneurs, while knowing their product or industry inside and out, are occasionally inexperienced in knowing what it really takes to successfully launch and grow a business. Generally speaking, entrepreneurs are often very passionate about their business idea, but can lack the expertise to market their business, understand and keep financial records, analyze their sales and profitability and make meaningful decisions in order to grow and sustain their business.
This is where the Innovation Connector can become a big help to entrepreneurs and those with existing businesses.
Yes, the Innovation Connector offers modern, well-equipped office space to entrepreneurs and startups. But in addition to office space, the Innovation Connector offers a unique array of business consulting services to help your business succeed and grow.
The word planning is a verb. Planning is an action. A continual ongoing process. Business planning is not something you do once and then quit. Far from it. It’s a process that should continue throughout the life-cycle of a business. But, how do you do business planning? What is involved? What does business planning mean? Ted Baker, executive director of the Innovation Connector provides business planning services to entrepreneurs. The planning process is achieved by one-on-one coaching with Ted and a variety of tools he uses to help get you started.
“We talk with you about identifying your customer base,” says Ted. “We want to make sure you are identifying the RIGHT customers. If your business idea doesn’t serve the right customer, your business idea may not work. Through the coaching we offer, we make sure the RIGHT customers for your business are identified. We know most entrepreneurs think their ideas are the best in the world. But, will somebody buy your product or service once you start your business? How do you know? We encourage entrepreneurs to talk and ask questions of prospects before they launch their businesses, and we help guide them in that process.”
Ted uses a variety of assessment tools to help clients with business planning. He’s certified in one such tool called Wendy Kennedy International or WKI. This tool is highly regarded as one of the top-end business incubation resources in the marketplace today. When working through the WKI process, entrepreneurs and innovators quickly learn the viability of their products and if they will be accepted in their business sector.
Marketing/ Product/ Company Branding Services
In the startup phase, a new company is the expert in what they do. However, new entrepreneurs may not be an expert on how to “tell others” what they do. The Innovation Connector provides marketing services to their clients in order to help them introduce, refine or redefine their clients marketing messages so the company can reach out to their customer base in a proper way. Ted said, “It’s amazing the number of entrepreneurs who are so excited about their business and about the future of the business. People just get really fired up. Yet many of those same excited entrepreneurs do not know how to tell the story about their product or service. We can assist you with that. We may use outside consultants such as Whitinger Strategic Services or the East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center to assist our clients in their marketing and branding efforts. We may not have all the answers, but the important point is we can help you get the answers. That’s key.”
Sales Analysis and Coaching
Sales analysis is the process of looking at your sales and analyze where sales are coming from. And possibly where they are lacking. Ted makes sure the coaching offered by the Innovation Connector helps businesses understand their individual financials. “We look at your sales, cash flow, your costs of goods sold, and other things like that,” says Ted. “We analyze what’s working and what might need adjusted. We can identify where more emphasis is needed.” Ted says most sales analysis comes from one-one-one or small group coaching. “This is where I specialize, more than anything,” he said. “You may know your business product better than anyone else. “What we try to do at the Innovation Connector is help you analyze your sales, your cost of goods sold, how much money you may have in your product—things like that. We help you determine if you need to raise your selling price or lower your costs of goods and how to go about doing that.”
Access to Training and Networking
Ted says, if you need assistance, the Innovation Connector is here to help. “Training goes on frequently at the Innovation Connector,” he said. “We put on various seminars throughout the year. Shafer Leadership Academy also sponsors several sessions throughout the year on leadership topics, and the East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center does, too. We intentionally create training to help businesses throughout the community all during the year.”
Networking and relationship building is a key activity for many small business startups. Some business owners want to and need to network but do not know where to start. The Innovation Connector can teach you how to network and recommend networking opportunities such as One Million Cups, the Community Business Connections group, the ECI Social Media Group, and various mixers. “We want people to talk to each other—to connect with one another,” Ted said. “We offer many outlets to connect with others here at the Innovation Connector, and we will help you figure out which ones will most benefit you.”
For more information on the Innovation Connector’s Business Planning Consulting Services, contact Alexis Dishman, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 765.285.4900.