UNK provides research exclusive for rural entrepreneurs
Finding the right market for a new business is complex and paying professionals for research and surveys to find that right market can cost more than the small business owner can afford. Oftentimes these surveys aren’t focused on the consumer. However, the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Center for Rural Research and Development is an affordable way for Nebraskan entrepreneurs to find the right market with surveys focused on the consumer.
The center offers networking opportunities between entrepreneurs with education, mentoring and market research. Shawn Kaskie, director of the Center for Rural Research and Development, said the program for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the CRRD focuses on primary market research as opposed to secondary market research. The surveys focus directly on the consumer and the community a business is targeting in order to provide better results for the entrepreneur.
“We offer the full service of professional market research services and to my knowledge, no one else within central Nebraska is providing those services,” Kaskie said. “If a business is thinking of starting, we can help them at a fair price using our student assistance here.”
“When we have entrepreneurs coming into our [program], we see this as a need to make their business better.”
Along with the advanced market research for the client, the center helps identify and develop new markets, entrepreneurial studies in Nebraska, various seminars and workshops focused on professional development and seminars on current issues for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
The center provides “business-to-business” and “student-to-business” networks and programs that will ensure mentoring for the entrepreneurs. They also provide international business training and professional development for these local companies.
The education provided by the center isn’t limited to those already in the business world. UNK’s program for Entrepreneurship and Innovation educates students in a kindergarten through twelfth grade entrepreneurship training session.
The CRRD’s entrepreneurship program has grown over the years and Kaskie hopes it will continue to expand with a mentoring program later this year.
“One of the big things for startup entrepreneurs is learning from those who have started a business. We’re likely to be developing a mentoring program,” Kaskie said. “Those interested can be matched up in a sort of mentorship program and it will most likely start up by end of the fall.”
All of these services, including outside speakers who are familiar with challenges facing small businesses, gives the entrepreneur more education about the benefits of owning a small business.
“Through providing these services, that’s why we bring in these outside entrepreneurs, to energize that culture of entrepreneurship,” Kaskie said. “We’re trying to increase that culture of calculated risk taking by bringing in these outside speakers.”
Kaskie said the common trend during these economic times is to make an income and not take risks with starting a business. He also said that through programs such as UNK’s Program for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, individuals are educated on the benefits of taking small business risks.
“Kearney and central Nebraska has been very conservative with spending unlike much of the country,” Kaskie said. “We have not seen much in major declines in services right away. That’s due to again, the hard working Midwest mentality that folks have out here.”
“The challenge with people taking stable jobs is that we would like to see the culture of entrepreneurs grow and see the number of startups increase,” he said. “Generally, the trend is to make sure you are making an income or working for somebody.”