Brad Rickelman is the assistant director of the Meridian Technology Center for Business Development. Meridian Technology Center serves individuals and industries in the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts.
Q1: How the does the Center for Business Development help entrepreneurs?
A1: The CBD is based on the philosophy that if more startups become successful in Stillwater, there will be more businesses and more high-paying jobs in Stillwater. The question is how do we help more startups become successful? We solve this by providing advice and training for the entrepreneurs wherever they may be in the business startup process. Oftentimes what is most important is to help the business understand what customer problem it is solving. The better the focus, the greater the chance of success.
Q2: What services are available to me if I have a new idea and want to talk with someone about the next steps?
A2: While we focus on technology and high-growth business ideas, we are available for a free, confidential initial consultation about your idea. When you are ready to take the next steps, we can then assist you with setting goals and milestones for your business through classroom training, one-on-one meetings to discuss issues, or even a meeting with a local banker for a business loan.
Q3: What is an incubator? How do business incubators assist new companies?
A3: Business incubators provide space, services and programming to startup businesses through the initial few years of being in business. By having startup businesses share a facility with skilled staff, there is a greater chance of entrepreneurs learning from each other.
Q4: What do you consider the most common mistake entrepreneurs make when starting a new business?
A4: Spending money too soon. For example, signing a retail lease for a location or buying a garage full of inventory before really understanding who the customer will be for the product or where the customer wants to purchase it.
Q5: What types of learning opportunities does the Center offer entrepreneurs and small business owners?
A5: We offer regular Entrepreneur Essentials classes. In these free two-hour classes, we cover the basic questions entrepreneurs need to answer when deciding to open a business, paying particular attention to market research and financials, two major areas that cause trouble for all new businesses. Our next Entrepreneur Essentials class is Oct. 13 at Stillwater Public Library. Also in October, we will be hosting the next cohort for the Startup Stillwater Accelerator, a five-session series on starting a business. Visit meridiantech.edu/CBDclasses for a full listing of our programs.
– David Bitton