Wilcox advised, “You need to create awareness about entrepreneurship.” Sometimes the political, financial or social power structure can block a budding entrepreneur.
In order for one-person businesses to bloom, “you need to have tangible support.” Leaders must guide them and offer “timely and appropriate data. They need to make good decisions.” Wilcox noted that while entrepreneurs can be passionate about their ideas, some will discover their products already have been patented or there is no desire for them.
Blayr Barnard, Southeast Indiana Small Business Development Center director, said, “If they haven’t done their homework and there’s no market for their product, ... they are going to fail miserably.”
Pointing at Barnard and David Osborne, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service Ripley County director, the speaker said, “One of the best services these two people provide is to say no to people.” When presented with a weak proposal, “saying no might save that person $20,000.”
The Purdue speakers imagine a regional entrepreneurial system here that will allow new business owners “to collaborate rather than operate independently or in isolation.” Wilcox asked, “Does your community have a go-to person or places for entrepreneurs?”
According to him, “The chamber (of commerce) can play a role in this. Sometimes entrepreneurs shy away because it’s formal,” and they really like informal gatherings. He suggested it could be best for another entity, even a church, to provide the venue and invite, but then let entrepreneurs chat.
One smart idea is to connect entrepreneurs to local lenders. An extension educator offered an eight-week small business program using local experts so owners could ask questions of them later.
The speakers listed four agencies that can help create a regional entrepreneurial system: the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the Indiana Small Business Development Center.