Could I be an Entrepreneur?

lemonade stand

Photo (CC 2.0) by Steven Depolo, on Flickr

Lots of people have a desire to start their own business.

At the same time, communities and economic development agencies encourage this as these businesses help build the local economy.

The interest for starting from the owner’s perspective come from a desire for control, to show their creativity and to make money. Communities see them as adding new jobs as well as providing a substantial amount of US sales and GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Yet often people just don’t take the plunge.

One thing holding them back is the fear they don’t have the right stuff to develop a successful business.  It is the myth that entrepreneurs are born and not made.

Kay Cummings, Michigan State University Extension, examines that myth. She outlines what qualities are helpful to the entrepreneur and defines what business skills one should have, either before starting or soon thereafter. Read her article here.

Kay also outlines some of the resources found he her state that can help the aspiring entrepreneur. And she outlines some national efforts as well.

While your state may not have these specific resources, nearly every state has some type of support services for the new business owner.  You just need to go out and find them.  I would suggest you start with your Extension office. They can define the resources available in your state.

Good luck.

Thanksgiving is Here


Photo (CC 2.0) by Benn Wolfe, on Flickr

I don’t know about you but Thanksgiving just seems to focus on food. It starts with turkey for many of us and just goes on.

Which makes me ask a question. (Put your answers in the comment box.)

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?

The Extension system, and the land-grant system of universities and colleges of which Extension is a part, are involved in all aspects of food from growing it to processing, preparation, and safety. So it seemed like the perfect topic to highlight as we approach Thanksgiving. Let’s take a look at one effort.

Teresa Wiemerslage is part of the Iowa State Extension effort working to build local foods and on-farm food safety.

Iowa State has several resources that might help others with their local food efforts. These include:

She also released this article on a local foods effort:

Schools celebrate Beef Month with local beef

The smell of the grill wafted slowly down the hallways. Curious students and staff stuck their head out of classrooms, eager for lunch to arrive. “Oh my gosh,” one student exclaimed, “It smells so good!” “I’m starving!”

It was just before eleven, and the smell of the cooking burgers was delicious, distracting, and too good to be ignored.

What was the occasion for the barbecue? May is Beef Month. To celebrate, Waukon High School and Jr. High students ate local beef grilled by Allamakee County Cattlemen and food service staff on May 7.

While the afternoon went quickly and burgers easily devoured, the event took much planning and coordination. It takes a village, as they say, to bring the beef to students’ lunch trays.

Teresa Wiemerslage, food systems coordinator for ISU Extension and Outreach made the event possible.  The beef was from a cow born and raised in Allamakee County. Grant funding given to the Iowa Food Hub from USDA Farm to School and Allamakee County Community Foundation covered the cost of processing.

“We use cull beef cows for Farm to School to provide an affordable product, and we use a state-inspected locker,” said Wiemerslage. “This is the third cow we’ve sourced for schools, and the kids really seem to love it.”

Food Service Director Julie Magner was willing to buy the beef and have her staff prep it. The Allamakee County Cattleman’s Association grilled the burgers. Two beef princesses form the county helped count and serve burger patties during lunch (and one is a current student at the high school)!

“Without all of these partners, the local beef would not have been possible,” said Ashley Turk, FoodCorps service member. The district partners with the NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative to have Turk assist with Farm to School and garden, nutrition, and wellness education at each of its centers.

“It’s not everyday students enjoy beef from a local farm and processed at a locker in town. That money from the sale and processing stays within the county, helping fund local businesses and people. While students were enjoying a tasty lunch, they had little idea the impact their meal has on their school district,” she said.

Students had no beef with the beef on their trays. When asked what they thought of their burgers, students said, “It’s really good,” and “I wish we could have grilled burgers every day.”

To be honest, most did not answer, their mouths were too full of food. The real test of the lunch came when students went to throw away their trays. Nearly all were completely empty.  It appears there were many satisfied customers.

Magner reported that the day was the highest lunch count of the year.

The Allamakee Cattlemen hauled their grill to Postville schools the following week and Winneshiek cattlemen fired up their grills in front of Decorah high school a few days later. In the end, 3100 kids had local beef on their plates because of the efforts of these local partners.

It appears schools can be a player in the regional food system. For that change to happen, it will take a village. And, maybe one very large grill.

So as you enjoy your Thanksgiving take time to thank the farmer/grower and all the others who helped bring the food to your table. And give a shout-out for those such as Teresa who help make it happen. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Throw a Twitter Party, Have Fun and Grow Your Business!

Yes, it is possible to grow your business while having fun.  One way to do it? Throw a Twitter Party!

A Twitter Party creates an experience to engage your clients and prospective customers. Twitter Parties can build your online presence, market your enterprise and expand your brand.

Use Twitter Parties to connect with your audience, discuss timely topics and present information about your products and services

Join Alyssa Dye, Nebraska Extension Intern and entrepreneur, as she discusses setting up a Twitter Party while providing strategies designed to make your Twitter Party a success!

To learn more about Alyssa, go to

Register for the Twitter Party event at:

Missed previous events?
Check out the Power of Business YouTube channel
or the “Friday 15 tab at Power of Business.

While you are on the site, sign up to receive reminders for monthly chats and a newsletter designed to grow your business!

“See you” on later today at 11:15 AM CT!


Saying “No” as a Small Business Owner


Photo (CC), on Flickr

Over the holiday break, I enjoyed spending time with my 18-month old grandson. He is at that stage where the word “no” is a significant part of his vocabulary. He says it often and sometimes loudly.

As we grow older we tend to say “no” less often. I don’t know if it is because of our upbringing or if we are just trying to keep everyone pleased, but saying no feels like something we just shouldn’t do. It seems to be a word to be saved for only the most dire emergencies.

As a business owner, you need to break that mold. Saying no should be one of the management tools you carry and use on a regular basis. This was recently pointed out in an article shared by Becky McCray on her blog, Small Biz Survival. This blog post was building on an earlier work by Stephanie Ward of Firefly Coaching.

Stephanie several reasons why we just can’t say no: we want to be liked; we feel guilty; or we don’t know how to say it in a way that makes it an acceptable response. So instead we say yes and quickly become angry or feel overwhelmed.

There are other times we need to say no as a business owner. One such time may be when you are being asked over and over for donations. Suzette Barta of Oklahoma has put together an excellent piece on “How to Survive When You’re Being Hundred-Dollared to Death” (look for CR-961).

Here are more helpful articles:

No – It is one of the shortest words we have. Yet it carries so much weight. We fear that using it will shut doors forever.

The reality is it can be used effectively and without any harm to your business. As we move into a new year, make it part of your business management strategy.

Building a Successful Business – Is Passion Enough?

Photo (CC) Bruce Berrien, on Flickr

Photo (CC) Bruce Berrien, on Flickr

It probably goes without saying that people who start a business are looking to do so successfully.

Some suggest that success can mean different things. To me, and I could be wrong, a basic definition of success would include two things. First, it would be achieving some desire of the owner. That desire may be more time with family or working from home or being your own boss. And it could simply mean making money.

Making money is the second part of my definition. All businesses need to make some level of profit. Not just money, but a business should look to cover all its costs – direct, indirect, taxes, machinery replacement, etc. It also must pay the owner, and all others who may have to pitch in, a salary comparable to what they could earn elsewhere.

Beyond that, a strong business will pay the owner for the risk they are taking and reward them for developing and managing the company. Some may argue that some of this is not necessary, and partially I might agree. Yet, it is these items that say an owner is serious about having a successful business.

Based on these two factors of business success, it may be true that passion alone might not get the prospective business owner to that point. Jennifer Lewis, Small Food Business blogger, suggested this in her recent blog regarding passion and business success.

So how does an owner reach his or her goal of a successful business? You can find answers to that question in our Power of Business tips. More information on developing successful businesses can be found at:

Entrepreneurs and Their Communities, a national effort bringing university people together to provide information and answers to questions.
Some Extension programs offer support.
Small Business Administration,
Small business development centers,

Passion and perseverance, or whatever you call it, is without a doubt one key element of success. When the owner blends that with the other business tasks of planning, marketing, and management, he or she is best positioned to achieve the goals they desire.