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What Does It Take To Grow a Business?

Jim Correll, director Fab Lab ICC at Independence Community College, Independence Kansas 

Most businesses want to grow.  That's natural and generally a good thing although growing too fast can be detrimental as there is considerable up-front money required to grow fast before the resulting sales increases begin.  We'll talk about managed growth, meaning growth at a healthy pace that allows the business to adjust without too much chaos. 

What does it take to grow a business?  As with so many things in life, it depends.  Requirements to grow for a business start-up are much different than those for an established company that wishes to grow to new levels.  To be in the business of coaching businesses, it would be nice if there was one playbook that would work for all.  Not only is there not a playbook that will work for all, there's not a playbook at all. 

Business Coaching Not As Technical as One Might Think 

For the last ten years, I've tried different methods and strategies to find the best way to be helpful as a business coach to a wide range of start-ups and small businesses.  What I've found is that being helpful to entrepreneurs and small business owners is not as technical as one might think.  To be a coach, one doesn't need to know all the technical ins and outs of a particular business or industry.  One doesn't even need to have all the answers.  The secret seems to be finding a way to provide the right combination of information and business tools to each entrepreneur or business owner based on their individual situations. 

A Collection of Business Growth Tools 

We have assembled such a collection of tools and we're grouping them under the umbrella of what we call the "Growth Accelerator Program".  Some of the tools are virtual, some are personal and some are physical.  This is a buffet of resources available if and as needed by our clients.  The tools include access to Fab Lab ICC and, pending completion of our new building this fall, access to the Entrepreneurs Bullpen, an open-collaboration incubator adjacent to the Fab Lab where start-up entrepreneurs can collaborate with each other while working on their own businesses.  Business incubators are fairly common and Fab Labs are becoming more common, but incubators connected to Fab Labs are still very new with but a handful in the country. 

No Geographic Limits 

Some of the offerings are fee based, but many are free.  There are need-based scholarships available for nearly everything.  Membership to Fab Lab ICC and the Growth Accelerator Program has no geographic limits. 

We consider the Growth Accelerator Program to be in a "beta" test with several members signed up now.  Some are inventing new things working through the process to come to market. Others range from business to business service providers to Internet and brick and mortar retailers. We welcome more.  We believe the combination of these tools offers a path to growth for any size business from start-ups to existing; from pre-sales up to $5M in sales.   

Jim Correll is the director of Fab Lab ICC at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Independence Community College. He can be reached at (620) 252-5349, by email at jcorrell@indycc.edu or Twitter @jimcorrellks.  


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