by ANSLEY FENDER
THIS IS PART 2 OF A 2-PART SERIES ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS
Business ownership is heavily romanticized thanks to legends of billionaires who started their companies in garages. While those are interesting stories, they are by no means the norm. In fact, most entrepreneurs fail many times before achieving success. Billionaire Richard Branson started 400 unsuccessful companies before Virgin Group, and Steve Jobs was fired from Apple—the company he co-founded—before returning as CEO and launching the technology now used by 45% of all cellphone owners.
Entrepreneurship is a tale of ups and downs rife with a few successes amid many failures. But, as hockey great Wayne Gretsky put it, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” This concept is rooted in the American Dream—the idea that if you just keep pressing on, you will achieve something extraordinary. While determination is essential for success, the single greatest way to improve your odds is to surround yourself with business experts who can offer advice and support during times of struggle. Luckily, there are multiple resources right here in Bloomington that can provide the training needed to make your business goals a reality.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal resource designed to help entrepreneurs pursue the American Dream. The SBA offers comprehensive business guides and online courses on subjects encompassing every stage in the life of a business, from planning and launching to management and growth. The SBA also has resources on becoming a government contractor and procuring small business loans and federal grant funding. While the SBA is a federal agency, it has branches all over the country, including one in Bloomington, so small-business owners can access additional resources and in-person coaching.
The Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) is a branch of the SBA dedicated to cultivating Hoosier businesses. The local branch of the ISBDC, located on the Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington campus, offers free workshops and business advising. ISBDC advisors have a wealth of knowledge and connections to help any entrepreneur form, grow, and sustain a business. Additionally, the ISBDC sponsors the Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program that provides funding to help eligible businesses overcome technical hurdles.
Bloomington’s newest resource for entrepreneurs is Dimension Mill, located in the Trades District downtown. The Mill is home to some of Bloomington’s most prolific tech companies, innovators, creators, and serial entrepreneurs who are more than willing to lend their knowledge and expertise to future business owners. The Mill regularly hosts business and networking events, including discussions with local entrepreneurs, pitch competitions, office hours, and peer groups. While many of these events are open to the public, a paid membership will give you access to all events and resources as well as The Mill’s coworking space.
Entrepreneurship is a high-risk livelihood which is all the more difficult without a support network. Exploring the bounty of workshops, courses, and peer advising available both online and in the Bloomington community will greatly increase your chance of long-term business success.