Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Entrepreneurs Take First Step at CVTC

Startup Eau Claire Week event focuses on helping people get started

Article Photo - Entrepreneurs Take First Step at CVTC

CVTC Entrepreneurship instructor Ben Zugay speaks to about 120 people interested in starting their own businesses at the Start a Business: Step One event at CVTC Nov. 6.


Doug Monette is trying to figure out his next move after a 25-year career in the U.S. Navy. He’s not sure what’s next for him, but it doesn’t involve working for someone else.

“I’m new to the area, moving here after transitioning from the military,” said Monette, who lives in Eau Claire. “I’d like to start a part-time business, as a sole proprietor.”

Monette hasn’t taken the first step toward that goal yet, but he was in the right place to get started on Nov. 6 when he attended a Start a Business: Step One event at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire. The event was part of Startup Eau Claire Week and the statewide Startup Wisconsin Week focusing on fostering an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the Badger State.

“We want to show people the first step of starting a business, because it is so overwhelming,” said Ben Zugay, an Entrepreneurship instructor at CVTC. “There are a lot of steps to starting a business, but we’re only showcasing the first step.”

That first step is not writing a business plan, Zugay pointed out. “You can write a business plan on a bad business idea,” he said. “The first step is having a viable business idea. We’re talking about what goes into a good business idea.”

“You have to do your homework and come up with a minimally viable product,” said Luke Kempen, director of the Small Business Development Center at UW-Eau Claire. “A lot of people are afraid to start, but a lot of these businesses can be started lean.”

Starting lean is what Megan Elliot of Lake Hallie has in mind. She has a concept for a personal and professional development service business, but isn’t sure what to do next.

“I’m not sure of the direction yet,” Elliot said. “I want to hear stories of people who have been successful and find out about local resources.”

Zugay said that’s what the event is all about. “We want to show them the awesome resources that are available,” he said. “A lot of entrepreneurial sessions are rah-rah sessions, but everyone leaves and they don’t know what to do next.”

“I have lots of idea, but I don’t know how to get rolling,” said Rob Nelson, who drove from Bruce for the event. “I’m hoping this will help me learn how to get going.”

After opening remarks from Zugay, the event featured a panel of people who have successfully started businesses or are in the business of helping entrepreneurs. They took a wide variety of questions from the participants, who later had a chance to network with one another and meet representatives of area organizations that provide services for business start-ups.

CVTC debuted Start a Business: Step One last year, with about 100 people registering. Zugay said 121 registered this year. The event was followed up with a bus tour on Nov. 9 in which people visited new businesses around Eau Claire to learn about the startup stories of the owners.