Counselors to America’s Small Business, or SCORE, hosted a collaborative panel at the Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton in an effort to inform innovative citizens on how to start and maintain a business. Called Brewing Business, the discussion featured peddlers of fresh roast coffee and crafted beers.
President Susan Sheahan of SCORE said, “We found networking is something all businesses need to do. There is a thread of information that if you have the entrepreneurship spirit, you need to know. We’re taking smart people and keeping them active- they have sage advice.”
The first section of the panel held eight people who own either a brewery or a coffee shop in the region. Both are growing industries. People like to try different varieties and flavors, and tend to get enthusiastic when they find a brand they love. That means demand is high.
That is good news for anyone trying to crack the market but it does not mean that a business can forgo creativity. They still need something that makes them stand out from the crowd. One brewery does this by crafting only vegan beers.
This first panel gave their advice and talked about their startup experiences. A second panel of professionals from various industries stood by to advise further. Each one shared their own tidbit of general advice for prospective business owners as well.
Lorri Feldt, the Regional Director for the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center, told the crowd, “You’re not good at everything, no one is. Find someone to do well the things that you cannot.”
For Ken Williams of Williams Commercial Real Estate, the success of a business is all about “Location, location, location. I can’t dispute that. What might be good for someone else might not be for you.”
Running Maple City Roasters is a seven day a week, often 14 hour a day job. “Hopefully you love what you do,” is owner Scott Ott’s two cents for the crowd. “It makes it so much easier. Surround yourself with positive people.”
After a few speeches and a Q&A, the group retreated to the back of the room for a tasting of the panelists’ brews. Each one has already established their company. So why was the advice of their fellow panelists important for them to hear?
It is because each of them only has a 50% chance of a 5 year anniversary. Small businesses come with a lot of risk and not everyone has what it takes to make theirs stick. SCORE want to increase those odds. Small businesses contribute 47% percent of Indiana’s revenue: they are an asset we cannot afford to lose.
Rex Richards, the President of the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, said, “You have to step back and think, are you doing things properly to reach your end goal.”
Thanks to Brewing Business, more upcoming entrepreneurs will be able to do it right.