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Archive for Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Workshop offers advice to small businesses

February 22, 2012

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Jon Hubbard and business partner Sally Ebright have a unique business product: chicken footstools. Recline on your favorite chair and rest your weary legs on a handcrafted, alpaca-layered chicken footstool from the City Girl Farm.

“I feel like we have a product people will buy,” Hubbard said as he displayed a picture of one such stool he has at home.

They’re crafty and quirky, that’s for sure. And the heads bobble.

But like any beginning business, the duo could benefit from a little expertise when it comes to the ins and outs of starting and running a business. That’s why Hubbard, along with a dozen other hopeful entrepreneurs, attended an entrepreneurship workshop Tuesday night at the KU Small Business Development Center.

Ebright makes the stools in Lyons, and Hubbard coordinates the marketing. On Tuesday, Hubbard said he was looking for a little guidance on some of the legal aspects of the business world.

The event was designed to help area people looking to take that scary leap of starting a small business, said Will Katz, director of the center that offers free consulting to local small businesses.

“We help you where you are,” Katz said. That could mean you simply have an idea or have a developed plan but are looking for money.

Katz provided practical, and cautionary, advice to attendees — everything from incorporation options to the uncomfortable topic of asking friends and family to financially invest in a business.

It wasn’t exactly a scared-straight talk, but Katz was clear in highlighting the challenges of opening and operating a small business.

He was also clear to emphasize the positive impact local small businesses make.

As for the down economy? Katz said that shouldn’t deter those with a good, solid plan and a unique or valuable product or service from at least exploring the idea of stepping out on your own.

“I think this is a good time to start a small business,” he said.

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