Roughly 60 students and community members, all who aspire to be future entrepreneurs, gathered Saturday morning in Gerdin Hall to participate in a workshop hosted by the The Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Center.
Students and community members listened to a variety of speakers, all specializing in specific areas needed to run a successful business.
The speakers ranged from insurance, accounting, legal aspects of running a business and operating a successful business. Not only were business speakers of larger businesses there, but there were also speakers from small businesses, such as Terry Stark, the owner of Main Street’s Chocolaterie Stam in Ames.
A piece of advice from Stark to students was to remain hopeful.
“If you’re young, don’t worry about making it yet,” Stark said. “You can change. You have time to change.”
Stark presented a list of key elements that he learned of running a successful business.
1. “Build that network, and don’t be afraid to take a chance,” Stark said.
2. Stick to what you know
3. Maximize all resources.
“You can buy all brand new, or you can get resourceful,” Stark said.
4. Create multiple streams of revenue.
“At Stam, we sell chocolate, but when it isn’t in season, we sell more gelato. We also sell scarves and other gift items,” Stark said.
5. Serve the broader community. Get involved.
6. Excellent customer service. Stark said that is the basis of Stam.
“We want to make our customers even happier than when they came in happy," he said.
Stark worked in law enforcement for 30 years after earning an Iowa State degree, however, there was a piece missing, and that turned out to be owning a small business.
Chocolaterie Stam stores had always been owned by Stam family members, but Stark was the first person to own a shop who was outside of the family.
He asked Stam if they were ready to expand outside of their family and gave them a piece of paper with his name and phone number on it, which was torn in half instantly.
Ten months later, Stam contacted Stark and told the aspiring entrepreneur that he was ready.
Another speaker was Jim Patton, with the Iowa Small Business Development Centers. Patton assists those looking to establish a small business.
Patton’s first piece of advice was to find your true interest.
“If you’re going to be in a profession, you better like it,” Patton said.
Patton stressed this, because "this business will be your life, and if you like it, you may be more successful."
The former banking businessman also presented a list of what people need to do to be successful.
“[What you need to do to be successful] is a big question,” Patton said, but to simplify it, it would be the following:
1. You can never have enough education. “I think it keeps your brain thinking,” Patton said.
2. You can never have a big enough network.
3. Always do more than what is successful.
“Put the extra out, and if you have a passion, you’ll do that,” Patton said.
On matter regarding the legal aspects for business, Tim Gartin from Hastings, Gartin & Boettger LLP advises clients on three things.
1. The CPA assists with entity selection.
“You’re always going to be responsible for your actions,” Gartin said.
2. The No. 1 stumbling block is on the books.
“Do your own books for at least six months," he said. "Take it in to your CPA to correct … CPA will help you with tax implications. They will be with you year after year."
3. CPA will help its clients make good business decisions.
4. Most businesses with more than one employee do not have a buy/sell agreement, which sets a price for an entity.
“That is a shame …," he said. "The goal is to set a value that is fair.”
Two Iowa natives, Nathan Halia and Sam Schill, who created the app Tourney Machine, spoke about their experience in the business, idea types and marketing types.
The foundation of it all, the two said, is solving a real problem and answering the question, "Who are you creating for?"
From a marketing standpoint, Schill shared effect strategies that she and Halia used to draw people in. It was simple: send a straightforward email that addressed what exactly their product did.
“If it is what [the people] want, they will respond to it … you don’t have to make it beautiful and sexy,” Schill said.
To reach as many people as possible, the two used email, a website and demos, forgoing flashy ads or expensive jockeying for Google Ad Words and customer service.
“Building a great product and telling people about it is much easier than selling garbage,” Halia said.
The Startup Factory is a channel at Iowa State for students to get their foot in the door and a platform for brainstorming ideas for potential businesses or career paths.
It is a “movement focused on building successful companies … it is the physical manifestation of where [creation happens,]” according to its website.