Dreams of Being an Entrepreneur

DSC00711Have you ever wanted to start a business in Little Falls, MN? Were you able to do so? Did you find the community supportive of your endeavors?

If you want to start a business in the city, but can’t, what barriers are holding you back?

Are there things the city could do to be more supportive of start-up businesses?

2 thoughts on “Dreams of Being an Entrepreneur

  1. I think this may apply more broadly than just to Little Falls but it remains a concern. There is very little assistance for small, start-up ventures, especially those that are started by people who don’t have much capital to get going. Lending institutions, community develoment agencies, etc. are willing to take a risk as long as you have enough money to collateralize your loan but won’t risk it on folks with a great idea but not much cash on hand. From a business perspective this makes sense for the lender; of course they want to ensure that they mitigate losses. However, a latent effect of this is that a lot of people who may have some fantastic business ideas have less of a chance of success is starting their venture.

    Additionally, something we’ve encountered in seeking help in getting our business going is the “How many people will you employ?” question. Not every growing business is at the point that they are prepared to take on employees. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth the risk, though. If the little business gets no help from the get-go they have less chance to grow to the point where they will hire people. We need to find a way for the little person to get some help in getting going.

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  2. We (Erik, who replied above, and I) have started two businesses in Little Falls over the years. We started a neon sign shop in 1990 with the assistance of a program through what was then called Brainerd Technical College (now Central Lakes College). It was a fabulous program that taught people how to start and run a business and also provided small loans to those who successfully completed the program so they could get their businesses going. We ran the business for a couple of years but a variety of factors, including having infants, forced us to close it.

    A few years ago, we started a business selling vintage housewares and furniture. We shoestringed this business along, not having enough capital to really make a go of it. We’re still shoestringing it and would like to ramp it up, but recently lost our shop space in the old Crestliner building to a larger concern. We haven’t been able to find another space with affordable rent that will allow us to refinish furniture (need a heated space with a good exhaust fan).

    As Erik said, there is little in the way of assistance for very small businesses in Little Falls. Government programs tend to throw money or tax incentives at giant businesses in hopes that more people will be employed. There’s a disconnect in believing that small Mom & Pop businesses don’t employ anyone. Well, they employ the 1 or 2 people running them and if they are nurtured, they may just grow into one of those giant concerns that employs hundreds of people.

    What I’d like to see in Little Falls is a couple of incubator spaces, one that is a co-working space for professionals and one that is a co-working space for craftspeople, folks who do woodworking or welding or other shop activities on a small-scale basis. This is something I would like to see run as a nonprofit or by a government entity, or possibly as a B-Corp, so that the small businesses using the space don’t get booted in an effort for the owner to make bank by renting the space to something bigger. A potential model that could be followed is Church & State, a nonprofit business incubator located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Website here: http://www.cs1893.com/.

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