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E-HUB helps spark the next "big idea"

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Trish Skram
August 25, 2011

“Watch, listen and learn. You can’t know it all yourself. Anyone who thinks they do is destined for mediocrity.”

Those are the words of Donald Trump, multi-millionaire, business magnate, TV personality and author.

Strong quote. And, many entrepreneurs and business leaders would agree.

I had the privilege to present to the Rock County E-HUB Summer class on social media for small business last week. I was immediately intrigued and honored to be a part of it. E-HUB is a six-week entrepreneurial program that originated in Green Bay and is aimed at providing resources, inspiration and connections to start a small business or refresh an existing business plan or idea.

The participants were eager to learn, energetic and ready to take action. I shared social media statistics, case studies, best practices, tools and tricks. But most importantly, we talked about what they can do today, to help implement a social media strategy when they’re ready (if social media fits in to the overall business plan.)

I spoke with Eric Kuznacic, business/employer services manager for Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development and creator of the local program. He says the program is successful because many participants become “social entrepreneurs,” which means they launch multiple businesses over the course of time. “E-HUB strongly encourages business owners to continually evolve their ventures, so they stay ahead of the curve and bring innovative ideas, products and services to the marketplace.”

He’s right.

Since the program began in 2010, Rock County E-HUB has held five sessions in Janesville and Beloit. Fifty entrepreneurs have successfully completed the program. “Twenty-six businesses have either launched or have rebooted,” says Eric. “There are several others who are taking steps toward launching a business, but are currently employed, finishing up their schooling, etc.”

Amy Loudenbeck, one of this year’s mentors says the program is different than other programs because the participants are still thinking about their business idea. “The class isn't a blueprint for success?It’s a compass to help guide people in the right direction,” she says. “Participants start the critical thinking process of how their business idea fits into the marketplace.”

The program is non-traditional and is entirely mentor-led. It helps entrepreneurs focus on how to create value, find their niche, prioritize, assess risk and accept the fact that they need an enterprise team in order to succeed.

“Small business owners tend to put unnecessary pressure on themselves to be their own accountant, HR department, legal advisor, marketing director, etc.,” says Amy. “Not only does that attitude take the entrepreneur away from nurturing their business, it can also lead to very costly mistakes.”

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve always been a strong believer in surrounding myself with those who will lift me higher and encourage me to be the best I can be. In business, those who succeed tend to surround themselves with people who can help them get where they need to be.

Participants also appreciate E-HUB’s social aspects. “While there is a textbook used in facilitation of the program, most of the class time is spent hearing from local entrepreneurs,” says Eric. “We bring in subject-matter experts who share their knowledge and experience and act as mentors to the participants.”

Eric also says the next program could be as soon as they receive 5-7 applications from people interested in taking the course. “Once we receive enough applications to fill a class and make it worthwhile for all (such as mentors, participants, etc.,) we’ll begin arranging the details.”

For more information, visit www.swwdb.org/ehub.htm or “like” the program on Facebook

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