Sunday, January 9, 2011

IowaMicroLoan Program

IowaMicroLoan is a program created to help Iowans realize their goal of achieving business success when there is a solid idea, team, and commitment to make it work. IowaMicroLoan was created for those microbusinesses that are considered on the fringe of risk-bearing capacity for most traditional financial institutions. The IowaMicroLoan program was created by the Iowa Foundation for Microenterprise and Community Vitality (IFMCV). 
IowaMicroLoan offers Iowa Residents:

  • Financing for start-up, expansion and refinancing of Microbusinesses in Iowa
  • Financing of loans of $5,000 up to $35,000 for a six year term
  • Co-financing with a local lender or loan pool up to $105,000
  • Credit approval within 10 working days of receiving a complete credit application and business plan
  • Technical Assistance grants up to $500/client/year
  • Local team building assistance to help you succeed
  • The ability to improve your credit score through IowaMicroloan reporting
Have you used the Iowa MicroLoan program in your business? ?
What was your experience?
Is this a topic you want to know more about through the New Iowa Entrepreneur's Coalition?
Check out their web site and give me feedback through this blog or through the NIEC web site.   

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spring Webinar lineup announced -

All webinars are scheduled on alternate Thursdays at 12:00 PM (noon). You can join any of the webinars through the MyEntrenet web site at

Optimizing Your Website on the Cheap- Live from EntreFest!
Thursday, February 25, 2010 at Noon (CT)
Presented by Doug Mitchell, Founder & Chief Brand Amplifier, createWOWmedia

So you have a website, but is anyone using it? Can anyone find it? Now that you’ve put the time and money into developing it and filling it with content, is it “find-able”? Mitchell has helped small and medium sized companies become findable and engaging on the web while dispelling common myths about search engine optimization and social media. Doug will share his thoughts and experiences on enhancing your website so that your clients will actually use it.

Doug Mitchell, founder and Chief Brand Amplifier of createWOWmedia has spent the last 11 years in tech startups until he finally fired his own boss in 2007. Doug's firm helps small and medium sized companies become findable and engaging on the web while dispelling common myths about search engine optimization and social media.

Financing your business ideas beyond your friends, family and fools
11-Mar at Noon (CT) David James Owner, DJ's Rib Shack
You’ve got a great idea for starting a business, but finding the cash to do it looks impossible. Learn about some new funding sources out there that you may not have thought about previously. David James, owner of DJ’s Rib Shack will share his experiences using the Targeted Small Business, TSB, Program to start his restaurant.

Networking 101: Before Facebook and Twitter
25-Mar at Noon (CT) Rob Jensen - Organizer, Highlight Midwest 2009 and Kent Sovern President of the New Iowa Group, Ltd.
In that long forgotten land before Facebook and Twitter, networking was primarily done in an environment where people actually met each other face to face. Learn about this ancient culture and find out why it is still a thriving place to be part of. We’ll learn from two networking gurus on how to weave web 2.0 techniques in with good old fashioned in-person marketing.

Building a Website on the Cheap for the Non-Techie
8-Apr at Noon (CT) Dan Beenken Innovation Incubator Manager, University of Northern Iowa
Need a web presence but don’t have the budget or skills to get it done? Are you still waiting for your “techie buddy” to update the site you paid him $500 to build back in 2003? Wait no longer! Learn from our own Dan Beenken as he walks you through the process of building your own site and, possibly more importantly, maintaining it to give your customers a continuous fresh look. The best part is, it’ll all be on the cheap! Dan has pretty much zippo technology skills, so even if you can barely turn your computer on, you won’t be far behind him on the learning curve of the web.

From Rags to T-Shirts: The Raygun Story
22-Apr at Noon (CT) Mike Draper Owner, Raygun
Mike Draper, creator and owner of Raygun in Des Moines, will share his experiences of moving back to Iowa and starting his apparel and design stores – Raygun and 8/7 Central. Draper will tell his story of thriving in an economy that hasn’t exactly been friendly to expansion. He’ll share his insights on using guerilla marketing tactics to build a presence that has now been featured in all sorts of national media and publication outlets.

Blogging Bootcamp: How and Why to start Blogging
6-May at Noon (CT) Josh Flemming Interactive Marketing Director, Lessing-Flynn
Perhaps you’ve read about the need to blog, but haven’t started yet. Or maybe you do a little blogging, but are pretty sure you may be the only one reading it. Josh Fleming will put you through his Boot Camp on the importance of social media, why to blog, how to blog, and why he is such a fan of “Top Gun”. Josh will share tactics on how to grow your readership to ensure it isn’t just you and your parents reading what you have to say. He’ll also share insights on how to keep your blog looking lively and fresh.

Making Facebook fit for your small business
20-May at Noon (CT) Nathan Wright Founder, Lava Row
With well over400 million users world-wide, the Facebook phenomena isn’t going to anywhere any time soon. As you look to start or expand a presence on Facebook, its critical to remember that simply slapping up a fan page and calling it good, simply isn’t good enough. Learn from Nathan T. Wright, founder of Lava Row, how to capitalize on Facebook’s power to grow your own business.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ten Tips to Ignore When Starting a Business

Ten Tips to Ignore When Starting a Business
Cathy Goodwin

Summary: Everyone has advice for you when you're starting a business, but it's not all good advice! Here are ten tips you'd be better off ignoring.

1. "Career freedom means starting a business."
Clients often assume they can reach career freedom only by starting a business. I know dozens of people who feel very free in a corporate setting. They swim easily in the corporate stream and learn to balance their lives. Some even return after successful entrepreneurial ventures.

2. "Don't worry, be happy."
Some advisors tell you, "You'll be great," even if they secretly believe you're following a harebrained path that is doomed to fail. Do your own research and get second and third opinions.

3. "Visualize success."
While I support visualizing and attracting, I do not believe you can attract business from a non-existent target market. Better to attract prosperity and fulfillment. You might also try to attract knowledge and discernment so you can evaluate your various advisors.

4. "If you can dream it, you can do it."
You can dream of meeting the Queen of England at your local Wal-Mart but you may have to wait awhile. The reverse is often true -- you must have a dream before you experience the reality -- but some people manage to skip the journey and enjoy the arrival.

5. "If other people can have a successful business, you can too."
Unless you strongly resemble those "other people," they're irrelevant.

6. "You will probably fail."
Your advisor may be using fear to motivate you to work harder or sign up for his success course. Do your own research.

7." If you feel energized about your goal, you will be successful."
Feeling energized just means you enjoy some aspect of what you are doing. Figure out what you enjoy and design a life to include more of it.

8. "You can always go back to what you were doing before."
After months or years of trying to start a business, you and your former career will be different and your former colleagues will view you differently. Better to begin with a job that you can leave if you become successful. Stay in a position of power.

9." You have had a successful career so far and you'll figure out how to be successful now."
Basketball players do not always thrive on football teams and baseball is a different game altogether. Enough said.

10. "You will be fine; you just need more confidence."
If you lack self-confidence in several areas of your life, see a clinician. Otherwise your lack of confidence in your entrepreneurial skills is probably reality-based and should be viewed as a signal to find another advisor.

Cathy Goodwin, PhD, is an author, career consultant and speaker, who combines solid expertise with humor, common sense and intuition. Visit her at or for more info, e-mail Cathy at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Networking without pressure

By Mary Gottschalk

Networking is a bit like flossing your teeth. You know you should do it every day, but often you don't start until you have a crisis on your hands.

Networking can be useful as a crisis tool for finding the next job or getting a referral. But beware. There's a subtle psychological shift in the balance of power between you and your contact if the purpose of the meeting is to get a job. You go into the meeting needing something and wishing you didn't. Your contact knows he is expected to deliver a job lead, a referral or at least a good idea.

This situation can be awkward. It makes sense to present what you think your contact should know about you, what you think will be most impressive. But whether it works has as much or more to do with a contact's ability to provide a relevant job lead or referral as to the effectiveness of your presentation. And if that contact isn't in a position to offer something, he may try to bring the conversation to a close, to relieve discomfort and avoid creating false hope.

The odds are high that you will walk away from such meetings discouraged, something you don't need if you're out of a job. Even worse, a lot of valuable information - valuable to your contact as well as to you - never gets communicated.

An alternative approach is based on the notion that people love to give advice. Don't say that you're looking for a job, even if you are. Instead, explain that you're exploring your career options ... that you want to learn what other jobs or careers your skills might be suited to ... that you don't plan to make any decisions until you have more information.

That approach takes much of the pressure off, if only because both people go into the meeting expecting nothing more than an interesting conversation. You can present a more honest picture of yourself and explore the career implications of your weaknesses as well as your strengths. The format leaves lots of room for a contact to make suggestions and share personal experiences. It allows him to ask what you think about "X" or how you'd handle "Y," thus learning about you in ways that might never have come up if the purpose of the meeting was to "sell" what you assume are your most important skills.

Because it's a dialogue, a contact will feel freer to talk about opportunities in her firm or industry, long-term opportunities even if they are not available on your current time frame. Because it's a dialogue, you can ask probing questions about the pros and cons of her job or profession, the how and why of her firm's internal decision-making and its biggest challenges. She can see first-hand how your mind works. You get more honest answers. And if your contact sees you as interesting rather than needy, she is far more likely to make referrals.

A significant fringe benefit of this approach - a critical one when you actually need a job - is that you rarely walk away feeling disappointed or discouraged.

The best fringe benefit is that interesting conversations lead to interesting job offers, often from the people you really only approached for advice.

Mary Gottschalk is the owner of MCG Strategic Services, which provides financial services to nonprofit organizations.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Improve Your Website’s Usability in 30 Minutes or Less

Written by: Tom Now

You can eat lunch in 30 minutes. You can watch a primetime TV show in 30 minutes. You can even organize your sock drawer in 30 minutes.

Given that an easy-to-use website is one that is much more likely to generate sales for your business, it would behoove you to take 30 minutes out of your day (in addition to organizing your sock drawer…) to implement fixes to your site that will improve usability and deliver better results.

Five Simple Steps to Improve Website Usability in 30 Minutes or Less

#1 Eliminate the Technospeak
Don’t assume that all of your website visitors are going to understand your industry lingo and acronyms. Strive to use easy-to-understand language.

#2 Focus on the Site Visitor’s Goals
Think of the major objectives of your website visitors. Why are these people on your site? Make it clear right on your home page what they should do next in order to accomplish what they set out to do.

#3 Get Right to the Point
State the most important information at or near the top of each page. Remember that many people do not scroll down web pages.

#4 Include Contextual Links & Make Sure All Links Work Properly
Add links to the copy within your website to guide your readers to more detailed information and answers on specific topics found on other pages in your site. Internal, contextual links is a great way to add usability without cluttering the page. There are a variety of tools on the market to automatically check the links on your site.

#5 Give the Site Visitor Options to Contact You
Make sure that you are offering your prospective customers at least three options (e.g., telephone number, email address, online form, chat functionality, Twitter, etc.) to contact you with questions.

These are just a few suggestions to help you quickly crank out a number of usability improvements to your website. If you need additional help, let me know below or at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How To Market To People Who Are Not Like You - Business And Breakfast

How To Market To People Who Are Not Like You - Business And Breakfast

One of the most important issues to address within your marketing plan is new market segmentation. No longer does mass marketing and mass media effectively reach your audience. Diversity marketing is the new norm, and this doesn’t simply mean racial diversity but extends to gender, race, age, life stage, sexuality, special interests, etc. By recognizing and segmenting these different groups, you can tailor your product/service and its message to reflect customers’ uniqueness. Kelly McDonald will share her insights on how to effectively segment new markets and then devise messaging to reach them.

Join us for breakfast, networking and a wonderful presentation.

Kelly McDonald is a marketing and advertising expert with more than 20 years of global advertising agency experience, in both the general and Latino markets. Prior to starting her own company, Kelly was Director of Client Services at one of the nation’s top Hispanic ad agencies, where she worked with Nissan, Bank One, Kimberly-Clark and Budweiser. Learn more about Kelly McDonald and her business at McDonald Marketing.
The New-Iowa Group is the home for the Coalition and is sponsored in part by American Express OPEN and by E-Myth Benchmark. You can Contact Bob or Susan Clements at 888-959-0621 for more information about E-Myth Benchmark.
Date & time
Wednesday, September 9, 2009 7:30 AM
StayBridge Suites
6905 Lake Drive
West Des Moines, IA 50238
Who's organizing?
Kent Sovern
“ Look for the NIEC Signs ”
$10.00 per person – RSVP at

New Iowa Entrepreneurs' Coalition The New-Iowa Group is the home for the New Iowa Entrepreneurs' Coalition which is sponsored in part by American Express OPEN and by E-Myth Benchmark. Please visit our Sponsors' web pages and you can Contact Bob or Susan Clements at 888-959-0621 for more information about E-Myth Benchmark.