Small business seminar hosted on campus

“Steps to Start Up” was presented by Mike O’Kane of the Kansas Small Business Development Center Outreach at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School last Thursday. Students of the college and citizens of the community attended the three-hour seminar. The KSBDC touts its motto of “Growing Kansas Entrepreneurs” and offers free and confidential business counseling. The mission of the center is to provide management and technical assistance to aspiring and existing small business owners. The KSBDC covers 22 counties in southwest Kansas with its region based out of Garden City Community College. KSBDC has grown from 10 businesses in 1980 to over 1400 businesses today and covers over 18,000 square miles of territory. The organization provides services that include; one to one counseling, education and training, information collection and dissemination, and collaborates with many other economic development agencies and certified development companies like Great Plains Development. The seminar was an extensive overview of business plan development, start-up considerations, evaluating the idea, testing the idea, types of ownership, and basic tax information. “Partnerships are something I hardly ever recommend,” O’Kane said, “because too many things can go wrong.” Other areas of study included business location, licensing and permits and insurance coverage and risks. O’Kane spent a good amount of time lecturing on financial management with an emphasis on the importance of getting a current credit report. “Don’t let the banks tell you how much they will loan you, you must tell them how much you need.” O’Kane said. He also listed many reasons why so many businesses fail with failure to manage growth, failure to borrow properly and failure to plan for transition or exit strategy being the top three reasons. O’Kane offered many templates for the group as well as outlines on what a lender will consider when applying for loans. He also corrected the grossly misleading publicity and rumor regarding the ease of getting grants or free money. “Grants are extremely limited and in most cases will only fund not for profit organizations.” O’Kane said. While some students attended the seminar for extra credit for their SCCC/ATS business classes. Aspen Hight SCCC/ATS student said, “I am not here for extra credit. I want to start my own business and I came here to find out how.”