Extension CED Continues to Offer Innovative Small Business Development Methods

CED specialist Victor Oyervides engages with entrepreneurs during the Immigrant Entrepreneurs SummitSmall business development is one of the many services provided by the Local Economies team in the Community and Economic Development (CED) program at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. 

In 2018, CED specialists were recognized by the university, earning an ISU Extension and Outreach award for powerful partnerships for the Shop Healthy Iowa Initiative and a university-wide award for achievement in economic development for their work with Latino business owners and entrepreneurs (see volume 10, issues 1 and 2 of this newsletter for more information).

Rather than rest on their laurels, CED specialists continue to pursue innovative ways to help small businesses and entrepreneurs realize their goals.

For example, eight specialists formed the Small Business Development for Immigrants team, in which they collaborate on a case-by-case basis with immigrant business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Five members of the team are bilingual in English/Spanish and have worked extensively in Latino communities statewide, and one team member specializes in African and African-American business and nonprofit assistance. 

The team is comprised of Himar Hern√°ndez (Ottumwa), Jill Sokness (Sioux City), Jon Wolseth (Ames), Kameron Middlebrooks (Des Moines), Lisa Bates (Ames), Scott Timm (Decorah), Steve Adams (Red Oak), and Victor Oyervides (Ames and Muscatine).

The first successful collaborative activity of this team was CED presence at the 11th Annual Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit on November 17, 2018, at the Des Moines Area Community College Campus in Ankeny. 

The Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit aims to strengthen immigrant businesses of all backgrounds through professional resources and fostering mutual collaboration. More than 900 entrepreneurs gathered to network and learn small business skills.

Another business development project is the recently rebooted Iowa Retail Initiative (IRI), which CED is piloting in the town of Lennox and in Wright County, led by extension specialist Lisa Bates and program coordinator Susan Erickson. In January, Adams, Oyervides, and Wolseth joined Bates and Erickson in conducting an IRI Champions workshop in Lennox. The Champions workshop provides training and resources to community decision makers and retail supporters, such as chambers of commerce and economic development organizations (volume 10, issue 2 of this newsletter provides more information about the IRI project).

The latest endeavor by CED specialists Adams and Oyervides is the production of a guidebook for the Business Model Canvas, a strategic management tool created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. 

At its most basic level, it is a canvas divided into nine individual rectangles representing the building blocks of all small business and nonprofit: 1. Customer Segments, 2. Value Propositions, 3. Channels, 4. Customer Relationships, 5. Revenue Streams, 6. Key Resources, 7. Key Activities, 8. Key Partnerships, and 9. Cost Structure.

On the Business Model Canvas, an entrepreneur will organize, analyze, adjust, and implement premises on a feasible business concept. The nine building blocks will guide a person on the pathway to understanding how their business concept will create value for value in return (money).

Adams and Oyervides chose to use the Business Model Canvas because it is a simplified, visual, open-source tool that is a user-friendly, hands-on, and step-by-step guide. The canvas can be printed out on a large surface so groups of people can jointly start sketching and discussing business-model elements with Post-it notes or board markers. 

It is a hands-on tool that fosters understanding, discussion, creativity, and analysis. Engage the tool once, and you will be enticed to continue utilizing on all different business ideas or management projects.

Adams, Middlebrooks and Oyervides facilitated a train-the-trainer workshop in January for eight of their CED colleagues. 

Organizations or businesses interested in learning how their team can utilize the Business Model Canvas can contact Steve Adams at 712-309-1830 or stadams@iastate.edu, or Victor Oyervides at 319-321-9623 or oyervide@iastate.edu.