“Starting a business is hard. There is so much to know and it’s important to get as much information as you can beforehand,” says YPF member Anna Kottke, the owner of Kottke Financial Services in Fond du Lac. “Starting my own business was a lot of work, but it’s been very rewarding to work for myself.”
While YPF’s Hour of Power, held at the Fond du Lac Public Library, was all business, a few weeks later members teamed up with the Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership for its second annual Downtown Amazing Race – which was pure fun. Teams started and ended at JR’s Sports Bar & Grill and visited eight other downtown businesses where they were asked to explore the offerings. Thus, they tasted wine, put together frames, created a floral arrangement and (amusing but true) ate tentacles.
“It’s a great way to network and learn more about area businesses,” Kottke says.
And while the Amazing Race and other events like the group’s annual golf outing are designed with fun in mind, they also have a business component, says YPF President Sam McClone of the McClone Agency Inc.
“You’re still getting to meet other people – even if it’s just running from business to business – and networking, which is key to business success,” he says.
That mix of fun (racing business to business trying new things) and seriousness (what does it take to be an entrepreneur?) are keys to YPF’s success.
With nearly 170 members, YPF, a division of the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce, was started in 2004 by 12 local professionals. From there, the organization continued to grow. The current economic slowdown hasn’t affected membership, which is a mix of entrepreneurs and employees from businesses of all sizes, says Tammy Young, an Association employee and YPF’s treasurer.
While the group was designed for professionals in their 20s and 30s, membership is open to all.
“We’re for the young and young-at-heart professionals. We do a good mix of social and business activities and it’s lots of fun and a great way to network,” Kottke says.
Designed as a networking and education opportunity, YPF’s Hour of Power complements the group’s other activities and programs, such as business tours, programs on financial planning and social activities such as a golf outing and a trip to a Milwaukee Brewers game.
“Succeeding in business is about making connections and this group is a great way to do that. People like to do business with people they know,” McClone says. “The Hour of Power is just another way we can get together and connect. It’s an intense hour of learning and networking.”
Succeeding in business is about who you know, Kottke says. “You can really learn a lot from your peers and other people in business. I hope that some of the people here today at the Hour of Power can take away something from my story so they can be a success, too,” she says.