Resources abound for New North entrepreneurs

Posted on Mar 23, 2010 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
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Posted March 23, 2010

Although I’ve
worked as a freelance journalist for a few years, I’ve never really thought of
myself as an entrepreneur. I didn’t have a business plan, employees (unless you
counted the cats who kept me company) or any businesses expenses outside of my
Blackberry and laptop.

The truth is
I don’t think I could ever be an entrepreneur – someone who comes up with an
idea, writes a business plan and then tries to go out and get funding for that
dream. To me, the task seems just too daunting and uncertain.

But for those
who are brave enough to jump in, the New North offers an abundance of services
to help small businesses get off the ground. A panel sponsored today by the New
North Small Business & Entrepreneurial Council comes in. The event held at
Fox Valley Technical College’s Bordini Center focused on the free sources
available in the New North to help entrepreneurs start and grow their business.

“There’s a
lot of mis-information out there and we wanted to let people know what is
available and how they can use those sources to their advantage,” says
committee chair Alex Kowalski.

Kowalski’s
group worked with the Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Network to put together a guide
to the private, non-profit and educational sources available to small
businesses and entrepreneurs.

“When we
first started these panel discussions, we had two people in the room,” Kowalski
joked to the group of more than 70 people. “But interest in entrepreneurism and
awareness of what the New North is doing to help entrepreneurs get started and
thrive is really growing. It’s exciting to watch.”

Click here
for more information on the resources available for start-ups in the New North.

Bob O’Donnell
of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
says entrepreneurs have more resources available to them than ever before –
from micro-lenders like ADVOCAP and free counseling services like Fox Cities
SCORE to more specialized organizations like the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs
Network.

But despite
those resources, businesses often face a tough road, he adds. “We’re working a
lot harder these days to put financing deals together,” O’Donnell says. “We may
work with an SBA micro-loan financer along with tapping into some other grant
programs so that when our client goes to the bank, they don’t have to ask for
all of the money – just a portion of it. That makes it a little easier for the
banks to leap and say yes.”

And that “yes”
is what entrepreneurs are hoping for.

–By MaryBeth
Matzek