Local communities need to have a comprehensive set of business technical assistance services in order to succeed. Technical assistance is a broad umbrella term encompassing everything from individual business consulting, group trainings and workshops to specially tailored learning events designed to meet the ever changing needs of business owners and startups. Often, we see the Iowa Small Business Development Centers and/or SCORE offices leading these efforts but many organizations, including community colleges, local universities, and entrepreneurially led initiatives, are working together to offer this vital component of entrepreneurial support in our Iowa regions.
The Way Forward
It is important to understand that no one-size-fits-all approach is taken. We must recognized the differences and preferences of each type of entrepreneur, as well as respecting difference in age, gender, ethnicity and business experience. For example, while younger entrepreneurs may prefer to work virtually with a consultant, or be more likely to seek the resources they need on their own via the local economic developer’s website, more experienced business owners may prefer to conduct meetings face to face.
What does this look like?
Successful regions have a system of service providers collaborating to provide guidance, resources and encouragement. Many regions host regular events to help entrepreneurs understand business fundamentals along with more specialized topics like Quick Books, or social media marketing. In addition to our local SBDC office, enterprising chambers of commerce, main street programs, and others can offer needed programming to help entrepreneurs grow.
There are a variety of online resources which can be called upon to help in this regard, as well. The SBDC offers online courses through SBA, the Iowa Business Concierge can provide no-charge market research information, IASourceLink has a robust calendar of events and a resource navigator tool for entrepreneurs to be able to look through and find the right resource they need to help them grow.
EDA University Center Role
Our role is to enhance the system of counseling, training and services designed to provide professional development opportunities to small business owners and service providers in finding ways to better serve their entire entrepreneurial ecosystem.