Chuck Jackson has a framed scrap of paper hanging in his office. It’s a gift from his grandfather, who saved this bit of history from what likely would have been a quick trip to the trash. The “historical document” is a check stub from Chuck’s first week at his first job outside the family farm, and it was part of that week’s payroll from Imperial Outdoor Advertising. After three stints as an employee of the company over many years, Chuck and his wife Alison now own ID Signs, the new name of the business where Chuck began his working career.
Kim Leistner Root was a local mom with a full-time job and a sense of frustration over not being able to find area events and useful information for her family without scouring dozens of sources. With the help of a few friends, she started gathering these resources, creating some of her own, and sharing what she’d found with others. Nearly 13 years later, springfieldmoms.org has grown into an extensive online resource network for families with kids of all ages that generates over 400,000 page views per year. The site has become a model for turning an interesting idea into a successful business.
Billy Williams and Adam Vocks, by any account, were models of successful young entrepreneurs. Starting in business as teenagers, they’d built a technology business that attracted the interest of an outside buyer and left them with the flexibility to do whatever they wanted at a still young age. So, they risked it all and started another business. Today, Computer Techniques, Inc. uses fiber technology to bring internet service with some of the highest speeds in the nation to Taylorville, Ill.
Each of these successful individuals travelled a different path toward owning their own business. But, one stop along the way that they all shared was at the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College.
Why they visited the Illinois SBDC at LLCC was different in each case. Chuck and Alison were committed to the idea of purchasing ID Signs, but knew that they would need to convince a banker that their idea was a good one before they could gather the financing needed to complete the purchase. Illinois SBDC at LLCC advisors helped them craft an extensive business plan, including annual projections and up-front purchase costs, which earned them their lender’s commitment.
Kim was looking for marketing ideas and help with pricing models as she moved to turn the internet page she shared with a few friends into a revenue-generating, sponsor-supported, web-based business. Her SBDC contacts led her to consider multiple options as she settled on the business strategies that guided her business from start-up to one of the largest and most active social networks in the area.
Billy and Adam turned to their long-time connections at the Illinois SBDC to help them through their feasibility study of introducing a totally new product to a relatively small-town market.
Each of them looked to the professional guidance for business growth available through the Illinois Small Business Development Center. You can too. Centers throughout the state—and across the country—provide no-cost advising and educational services to business owners and potential business owners at all stages of their progress.
You can visit the offices of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College in Montgomery Hall, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217.786.4530.