Sunday, January 21, 2018

On Campus

Event offers ideas for businesses

Granton resident Bethany Verkilen came looking for advice after her husband bought a logging truck to go into business for himself. 

After 20 years as a plumber, Damien Oberle of Menomonie is on the verge of breaking out on his own. Jim Chich of Knapp is considering a number of business ideas, while Denise Parker of Mondovi is looking at property in Pepin where she plans to open a boutique.

Their ideas varied, but those entrepreneurs and about 100 others came to Chippewa Valley Technical College on Nov. 16 for advice. They found it at Starting a Business: Step One, which featured experts who have either started their own businesses or assisted others in doing so.

“A lot of people have an idea for a business, but they don’t know what to do or what first steps they should take,” said Ben Zugay, an instructor in CVTC’s new entrepreneurship program who served as moderator for the session. “Tonight we’re highlighting resources for them, like Western Dairyland and economic development organizations.”

“This is an opportunity for people in an environment that is non-threatening to listen and learn a little more before they take the next step,” said Luke Kempen, with the UW-Eau Claire Small Business Development Center, one of the panelists at the event.

Some entrepreneurs attending were still considering ideas.

“We’ve been toying with ideas of different kinds of businesses, but we haven’t decided on anything yet,” said Chich, who attended with his wife. He plans to start a firewood processing business and hopes to expand in the future. 

Chich said after 10 years “punching a clock” in the service industry, he’s ready for something different. “There’s an advantage to being in business for yourself,” he said.

Parker, who has a CVTC marketing degree, is already working on finding a building for her boutique. “I’m halfway through my business plan,” she said. “I’ve been working on this for the past two years.”

Parker worked retail jobs for 16 years, so she has plenty of background in that field, but not as an owner. “I need to know more about the business side of things — the regulations and taxes. I want to hear the perspective of other business owners and what they learned along the way,” she said. 

Verkilen expects to handle the business side as her husband goes into the logging business with his own truck. There’s a lot she wants to know. “I need information on how to handle taxes, and get a federal I.D. number,” Verkilen said.

The Start a Business event was the first at CVTC. 


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