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Group Works to Kick-Start Aspiring Small Business Owners in Kansas
Kansas Ag Connection - 10/12/2021

If there's one thing that connects small businesses in Kansas and around the country, it's this: Their company probably got started with someone's big idea.

Ron Lunsford is among a group of volunteers who are hoping to help entrepreneurs capitalize on that initial passion. He's the workshop chair for the Wichita chapter of SCORE, a non-profit that provides mentoring and other free help to small business owners in Kansas.

Lunsford was the featured speaker during K-State Research and Extension's monthly online series, First Friday e-Calls, which helps to nurture small businesses and inspire entrepreneurship in Kansas.

Nationally, "SCORE has more than 10,000 volunteers who give our time, thoughts and energy to helping people get started in business or improve an existing business," Lunsford said.

Many of those volunteers have been successful executives themselves, he said. They share their experience through free seminars, workshops and ongoing mentoring. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, those services have been solely online, "but we hope to get back to where can do face-to-face mentoring soon," Lunsford said.

"We will work with you to build your business plan," he said. "If it doesn't seem to fit your goals, we will suggest other markets or help you find ways to improve your profitability."

Lunsford stressed the importance of the business plan. He said statistics bear out the fact that after two years, 76% of small businesses are successful, but those numbers drop to 62% after three years, and 50% after five years.

"If you build a business plan, it can guide your steps and help you make decisions," Lunsford said. "That's the way to make your efforts more productive."

In addition to building a business plan, Lunsford said the Wichita chapter of SCORE can help business owners with a variety of related decisions, including:

- Developing a business model.

- Accounting practices.

- Insurance and risk management.

- Patents and trademarks.

- Business legal structure.

- Loan information and preparation.

- Marketing strategies.

- Social media.

SCORE counselors can give guidance to key decisions such as whether to work from home or rent office space; selling your product online; pricing; hiring employees; and much more.

"And we'll ask if you have a family that is supportive of your business," Lunsford said. "Don't go into small business unless you've got the full support of your family because you're going to need it."

Founded in 1964, SCORE has headquarters in Herndon, VA. Its' website reports that it has more than 300 chapters nationwide, offering expertise in 62 industries. Lunsford said SCORE is a resource partner for the U.S. Small Business Administration, from which it receives some funding.

Lunsford's full talk, Simple Steps for Starting Your Own Business, and other First Friday presentations are available online from K-State Research and Extension at http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/community/business/entrepreneurship/.


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