1 Describe the center’s short- and long-term partnership with the Independence Regional Entrepreneurship Center.

The Independence Regional Entrepreneurship Center will create new innovation infrastructure for our state that I believe would be extremely beneficial to Missouri entrepreneurs and potentially the entire U.S. market. UMKC SBTDC’s short- and long-term partnership with the IREC is to deliver activities, supporting entrepreneurial clients and training attendees and assisting in all phases of technology development, commercialization and business opportunities that are created through the center.
2 What are your experiences as a small business owner in Eastern Jackson County? 

I was the co-owner and managed several family businesses, including Ward & Garrison Company Inc. in Sugar Creek, an industry leader in machinery rebuilding, design and fabrication for metal manufacturing. Currently, we own HTS Technologies Inc. in Sugar Creek, a manufacturer of semi-automatic and portable hydraulic tube swaging equipment supplied to national and international aircraft industry. We like all of our consultants to have business ownership experience. Every one of them has owned or operated a small business because we believe here at UMKC SBTDC that experiential learning is as important as the academic learning they would receive from our consultants.

3 What are the pros and cons to starting a small business in this economic climate?

Without a doubt, the current economic climate is challenging businesses from small to large. However, I also believe the economic climate presents a lot of opportunities. For example, we’re seeing a lot of opportunity in the sustainability and green ventures. When there are markets that are shifting and changing, a business has to have growth and vision toward what those shifts are going to be.

4 How do the Small Business & Technology Development Center’s consultants work with and counsel aspiring entrepreneurs? 

We provide assistance to those interested in business development, primarily educational courses and training and one-on-one consulting that is catered to specific phase of business development. Our team of Business and Technology Department specialists offer one-on-one consulting at no charge to our clients once their business concept and plan is well defined. 

5 From your personal experiences, what advice would you offer to those aspiring to start their own small businesses?

Plan ahead for success. Learn what you don’t know by attending start-up and business plan classes, as well as any hands-on business classes you can get. You might even work short-term for the business you plan on opening to receive experiential learning in that industry. Have a well-defined market that is based on current market research, both primary and secondary. Develop a financial pro forma from realistic projections – find out when you will cash flow. Time and time again we hear from our clients that just having another set of eyes and ears really helps because as a small business owner, you’re on an island. Become keenly aware of intuitive knowledge because a lot of this comes from intuition and your hunch – that will get you through.