Kansas Launches Online Resource Center for SMBs
Small business owners in the Sunflower State are getting some high-tech help from the government.
The Kansas Small Business Development Center announced the launch of an online resource center for
small and midsize businesses that gives midmarket companies and startups access
to tools and free consulting to help start or expand a business.
The KSBDC partnered with Kansas.gov to develop the new site, which is housed within the Kansas Business Center, the state's online resource center for businesses. "This partnership will provide current and future KSBDC clients access to the resources they need as entrepreneurs," KSBDC State Director Wally Kearns said. "It is a collaborative effort that illustrates the commitment the state has to economic development and providing online access to state resources."
The redesigned KSBDC site includes information about how to access one-on-one business consulting at no charge from one of 12 regional or outreach centers throughout Kansas. Online virtual business training in areas such Starting Your Business, Managing Your Finances and Foundations of Marketing is accessible at any time online. The free courses are also available in Spanish. In addition, the new site includes business success stories in the form of the Emerging and Existing Business of the Year in Kansas.
Anne Woods, the KSBDC's co-director of marketing and training, said the state was trying to make it simple for someone who was thinking about starting a business or who already owned a business and needed help managing it. "We learned that there were so many state agencies that biz owners had to comply with, for example water issues, or issues for an agricultural type of business, so we tried to compile as much information as we could," Woods said. "The objective was to make it easy and do a lot of it online so people in our rural locations would not have the inconvenience of mailing a copy or driving to an office."
Woods said using a collaborative approach allowed the KSBDC, along with other affiliated organizations such as NetWork Kansas, dedicated to promoting small business growth, to offer the most comprehensive slate of resources. But the work isn't over.
"Phase two will begin in July of this year, and it will include more features like Web 2.0 tools and a virtual office so [SMBs] can file documents there and have an office online," she said. Attorneys and accountants also have access to virtual offices, and can set up reminders for taxation and regulatory purposes. "We are hoping as more business owners use this, they'll make suggestions," Woods said. "We want to know what we can do to make it easiest for them. That's really the goal of this business center."
The KSBDC provided more than 12,000 hours of free one-to-one counseling to 2,000 clients in 2007. Approximately 4,650 individuals attended on-site workshops at the eight regional and four outreach centers throughout the state. In 2007, the KSBDC assisted clients in 263 new business ventures and helped generate approximately 1,400 new jobs in Kansas, the organization said.
For midmarket companies that aren't based in Kansas, don't worry: Uncle Sam has you covered. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free yearly edition of "Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories," which provides a portrait of the economic condition and activities of small businesses, how they performed in their respective states, and how they are important to their local economies and to that of the United States.