Anyone will tell you that starting a business is risky. Even the definition of an entrepreneur incorporates risk—entrepreneur: a person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risks of a business.
Starting a new small business requires a strong tolerance for risk. Entrepreneurs invest their savings, time, and reputation into their passions and ideas. While it’s not possible to eliminate all the risks, you can improve your chances of success with good planning and preparation.
Wisconsin is rich in resources that assist with planning, funding, and acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to operate a successful business for entrepreneurs. There is a robust ecosystem of support designed for businesses at many levels. One such supportive organization is the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC).
WWBIC is a leading, innovative, statewide economic development corporation. WWBIC “Puts Dreams to Work” by supporting individuals who may face barriers in accessing traditional financing and resources. It provides individuals interested in starting, strengthening, or expanding businesses with access to vital resources and tools, such as business education classes, one-on-one technical assistance, and access to fair and responsible capital. And those who work at WWBIC find it inspiring. Assisting someone with a dream of business ownership is very rewarding, and while WWBIC is here for everyone, they focus their efforts on women, low-income individuals, and people of color.
The first step an aspiring entrepreneur should take is to set up a meeting to discuss their idea with a counselor at WWBIC. That discussion will help you, the entrepreneur, understand where you are on the path toward business ownership. There are many steps along the way to opening a business, and the more you plan, the better your chances of success will be. Through research, knowledge, and skill development, you mitigate the risk inherent in small-business ownership. One major key to success and risk mitigation is the development of a business plan which is invaluable in helping you to evaluate your idea. It will help lay out the milestones, determine the costs, and evaluate the opportunity. One of the key elements of a business plan is the financials. This information not only helps you determine the risk involved, but also shows the expenses and the potential revenue.
Educating yourself in all aspects of business ownership is critical for success. WWBIC offers classes in all areas of business ownerships, including business plan development, employee management, financial record keeping, financial projections, marketing, taxes, and accounting. Some of the classes focus on certain industries, like restaurants, food carts, e-commerce, and rental property ownership.
WWBIC has offices in south central Wisconsin, Madison; in southeastern Wisconsin, with offices in both Racine and Kenosha; a Greater Milwaukee office, supporting West Allis and Waukesha; and WWBIC’s newest offices will be in northeastern Wisconsin, opening in June in Appleton. It also has representatives and virtual offices located throughout the state.
Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 1987, WWBIC has been assisting individuals for over 30 years. In addition to the business classes, WWBIC also offers programs to assist people with personal financial growth. WWBIC offers a variety of delivery methods, including online classes, live webinars, and classroom sessions.
WWBIC offers assistance in Spanish too. In Madison, the Comienzos program, which is a partnership with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), provides one-on-one mentoring, training, and funding to the Latino community.
The WWBIC team consists of 50 staff members and over 200 volunteers who work to ensure that business owners have what they need to be successful. The partnerships that WWBIC fosters create a deep web of connection and support for business owners. WWBIC works with local chambers, like the Madison Black Chamber and the Latino Chamber, to design workshops and networking events for small-business owners.
WWBIC is also part of the MarketReady program. Funded by the City of Madison and administered by the Northside Planning Council, FEED Kitchens, WWBIC, and Dane County UW Extension, the MarketReady program prepares new entrepreneurs who have dreamed of starting a food-based or craft-based business for success in the new Madison Public Market through business training, mentorship, and start-up capital. A high priority of the Madison Public Market is to spur the launch of new businesses to support the continued growth of our local food economy. The MarketReady program prioritizes populations facing historic barriers to entrepreneurship, including women, people of color, immigrants, low-income populations, veterans, displaced workers, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Promoting highly diverse merchants is just one way the Public Market Development team is working to make the Madison Public Market a welcoming, appealing place for all.
Since its inception, WWBIC has:
• Loaned over $60 million.
• Helped 4,770 entrepreneurs create and retain 10,725 jobs.
• Assisted 60,145 clients.
• Coached 187 individuals and families in purchasing their own homes through its IDA program.
The team works to ensure that business owners have what they need to be successful by:
• training, counseling, advising, and mentoring small and microbusinesses throughout Wisconsin.
• promoting economic development through personal and financial growth.
• encouraging and supporting self-employment as a means to self-sufficiency.
• creating, expanding, and diversifying business initiatives through technical assistance and access to capital.
In her role with WWBIC, Andrea Hughes is responsible for overall coordination and expansion of WWBIC’s business education, outreach, and economic development programs in Wisconsin’s south central region.
2300 S. Park Street, Suite 103
Madison, WI 53713