Pop-Up Shops as Opportunities

Pop-up shop

Photo (CC 2.0) by USDA, on Flickr

Are you looking to start a business? Or maybe you work with someone who desires to have a small business?  One of the common questions is how to start?

A pop-up shop may be a good way to give business ownership a try. It also is a way to see how the market responds to your product or service.

What is a pop-up shop?  It’s a temporary place of doing business, i.e., think carts in the mall as an idea. You can find more on the topic here. 

Pop-up shops come in many forms, from the carts just mentioned to a temporary shop in a vacant space to a portable building brought in to a tent along the road. Each of these methods allow you to test your idea and yourself as a business owner/manager.

Becky McCray, of Small Biz Survival, has posted several articles on pop-up shops. She writes on how they can be beneficial in encouraging business owners in small towns. Some of her articles include:

Pam Schallhorn, of the University of Illinois Extension, has also done a blog post on the idea of pop-up shops.  Her articles looks at how they helped rebuild a downtown.

And the Des Moines Register just published a story on a man who has started a business making store fronts for pop-up shops.

Pop-up shops, or similar models, can offer economic development growth and opportunities for local communities.  And communities can be very helpful in making such alternative ideas possible and even helping to market them and encourage their development.

Thinking of starting your own business? Working to develop your community’s economic sector? Try pop-ups!!

Wow, So Much to Know!

Question Mark

Photo (CC) Colin K, on Flickr

Whether you are thinking about a business idea, just starting your business, or you have had a business for some time, it seems like there are always new questions or issues coming up. How can you keep up?

Two common ways that business managers stay up to date are, first, by talking to other business owners. That is one of the reasons for Power of Business. We want to encourage business owners to connect and engage with other business owners. Each of you have some of the answers learned through experience and your own searching for answers.

The second commonly used tool is to find resources that you consider reliable and trustworthy. You have traditional sources such as your local Extension Service office and its online presence found in each state and at eXtension.org.  You also have agencies such as the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE. Every state has other sources in addition to these found in one or more of the state agencies.

All of these resources and many others can also be found online. One of the online resources that has seen a dramatic rise in numbers are various bloggers. Again, business owners tend to find their favorite ones, people they feel provide timely, valid and reliable information. They also look for information from people who have “been there and done that” and often recommended by other owners.

When searching for bloggers or other online information providers, you can often find those who are directly in your same industry. For some time, I have followed Small Food Biz. Recent articles such as the look at why small businesses need insurance, http://www.smallfoodbiz.com/2014/07/30/the-importance-of-insurance/, quickly lay out a basic outline of the issue and some real-world reason why it is important. (This author has no relationship to this blog).

Another blogger I follow focuses on small rural business and the communities where they are located, Small Biz Survival. (This author is a guest blogger at this site). Today, you can probably find someone offering information for practically any type of business in any type of location (Just check out our list of interviews with business owners under “Friday 15.”).

The bottom line is that there are resources available to help you get the answers to your questions. And we haven’t even discussed other professionals who also can be of great service.

So when faced with a new situation or question, ask around and go online. Chances are you can find guidance from a number of sources.  However just a note of caution, not all of the information you find is correct or right for you so, again, use your resources to check and verify.

Remember, when you are running a small business, you need not feel alone.


How MU Extension Programs Set Me on a Path Toward Entrepreneurial Success

About the blogger: Brandon Banks (@brandonbanksbiz), a serial entrepreneur began his entrepreneurial adventure at a young age and currently travels to educate students on the possibility of seizing the day and moving toward their dreams of being their own boss. Together in collaboration with his network, Banks disrupts common traditional barriers and exposes that, through proper support, anyone can be an entrepreneur regardless of their age. Check out more of Banks’ blogs here: www.brandonbanksbiz.wordpress.com

Photo of Brandon Banks

Behind every successful entrepreneur are two things: a strong support system and a stronger story. This is the story of how working with support programs took a normal 15-year-old boy and turned him into a young successful entrepreneur.

Success can be measured in many ways to different people. Some credit success as money, status, growth, staffing, etc. No one is truer than the other for a measure of success. However, I consider myself successful but I will be the first to admit, my numbers for growth aren’t outlandish, revenues are nothing outstanding, and many other avenues along my entrepreneurial journey have been rather simple. My aim hasn’t been to grow a company to vast sales. My motive through entrepreneurship has been one single target, summed up in one word: impact. If I can make an impact on one person, one business, one program, or such, I consider myself a success. I am modest enough to understand and admit, that while I could focus on growth or money, I don’t. I value others over myself. So I suspend my energy to help others rather than grow my own ventures exponentially.

To begin, I was a 15-year-old, typical student, with what many people acknowledge as a sleeping fire inside me. I had no clue what I could be. I had a feeling one day I would do something great. I had no clue it would start to unfurl at the age I was. My story starts at the end of summer, 2009. I had been given a flyer about a summer camp program. I narrowed my picks and finally decided upon the Build-a-Business Camp, which is part of the Summers @ Mizzou program, sponsored by University of Missouri Extension 4-H. Undoubtedly, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

This camp is geared towards awakening the entrepreneur inside of youth hopefuls. They enter camp with little to no business experience, but they leave with a new world in front of them. The weeklong camp introduces youth to campus faculty, business advisors, and student and community entrepreneurs. It engages them in hands-on activities to develop their own idea and plan for a micro-business they can start at the age they are, and then teaches them how to pitch their idea to an audience. The camp prepared me to launch the first of my three current businesses, and was the educational background I have founded my entrepreneurial journey on.

As I stated earlier, my goal as an entrepreneur is nothing more than leaving a mark, making an impact on others. The Build-a-Business Camp coordinator, Steve Henness, with the 4-H Center for Youth Development office in Columbia, Missouri, has been essential in helping me fulfill that dream. Each summer, I return to the camp that gave me my start. Working with the camp training team gives me the opportunity to pass on my experiences, mentor youth hopefuls, and leave my mark each year on over a dozen elite students.

Shortly after the start of my first company, Spot Light Stars (a children’s theatrical production company), I was introduced to another opportunity: the MADE in Missouri statewide entrepreneurship competition. The competition allows entrepreneurs of any age a chance to present their idea at the Missouri State Fair and take home seed capital to further their venture. Though I have taken home “Youth Entrepreneur of the Year” two years in a row, and runner-up the year before, MADE gave me another larger contribution to my journey. Along the process, MADE Competition Coordinator, Cheryl Zimny, offered suggestions provided by the judges, including contacting the Small Business Technology and Development Center (SBTDC) in Warrensburg, another MU Extension program. Upon connecting with the center and my mentor, Lynette Watson, I was able to access resources and counseling to ultimately make my idea better.

Following connecting with the SBTDC office, I was invited to their office on the University of Central Missouri campus. Upon collaborating with the Director of the office, Darrell Brammer, I decided to attend school and eventually become a student worker with their office. This interaction with the SBTDC has helped me reach new people and resources, understand complicated situations in business, and have an opportunity to give back to other businesses.

In my opening, I began by telling what my motive in business is, to leave an impact. The reason I tell this is because, anyone can make money. With the right setup, anyone can succeed in business. It takes a specific alignment of people, ability, and support to create an impact. I believe, that my experiences and connections with the MU Extension Program – Build-A-Business Camp, the MADE Competition through the Missouri Valley Community Action Agency, the SBTDC, and others have put me in a proper position to help others. I own and operate three businesses. Each year I mentor and educate dozens of young minds on the opportunities in entrepreneurship (over a hundred in the last 5 years). I tour and speak to youth and adults on how to engage and further entrepreneurship, as well as attend many events each year to network with others I might be able to help in some respect. These programs have been essential in my success as an entrepreneur.

If one thing can be taken from my story, I hope it is this: go out, venture forth, and find your support, whether that is other entrepreneurs, the SBTDC near you, the MU Extension office, or other consultation firms. Build a support structure with many people and branches for you to rely on. These structures will help you become who you are meant to be. But remember to continue to add value to them as well, give back what you can, where you can, when you can.