Business owners get help tool
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
2/23/10 at 4:51 AM
When Patrick Cuningkin set out to start his grocery delivery service three years ago, he had lots of questions.
How would he finance his business? Who were his competitors? Did he have an audience for his product? What was a business plan, and how should he go about writing one?
Cuningkin could have benefited from SourceLink Tulsa, a new referral network that links small and emerging businesses to local nonprofit and government resources that can help them grow and prosper.
On Monday, Cuningkin was one of many people who attended the official launch of SourceLink at the Tulsa Metro Chamber.
The program, based on a model created by the Kauffman Foundation, is offered at no cost to entrepreneurs or participating resource partners.
"Starting a business can be a daunting task, but I know from experience that a small business owner is only limited by the resources and willingness and determination to have success," said Cuningkin, owner of I'm Delivered.
"A program like SourceLink is a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs," he said. "This is the perfect service for individuals like me who wear many hats. There's little time to spare, so being connected to the appropriate resources when I need them is essential to conducting business."
Small business owners are the lifeblood of the local economy, creating the majority of jobs, driving product innovation and spurring energy and enterprise, said Cari Marshall, chairwoman of the chamber's Small Business Council and owner of L&M Furniture.
She noted that more than 29,000 small businesses in metropolitan Tulsa provide more than 55,000 primary jobs with an estimated payroll of $1.4 billion annually.
Both first-time and serial entrepreneurs as well as owners of small firms that have been in business for some time are encouraged to use SourceLink.
More than 50 area resource partners already are participating in the program, with more to be added. These partners provide a range of services, including business plan development, market analysis, financing, operations assistance and education.
SourceLink is funded by the chamber's economic development plan, Tulsa's Future.
"This program is needed now probably more than ever. With the recession, more people are trying to find self-sufficiency," said Jeremy Hegle, an official with U.S. SourceLink, based in the Kansas City area.
He noted that 6.2 out of every 100 people are thinking about starting a business, which would translate into more than 50,000 people in the Tulsa area.
"Those are jobs that typically don't get offshored and don't relocate to other states. So this is where we need to be focused right now," Hegle said.
U.S. SourceLink evolved from KCSourceLink, which was launched in metro Kansas City in 2003. Today, U.S. SourceLink has expanded to many states, including Alaska, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Howard Barnett Jr., a past chairman of Tulsa Metro Chamber and president of Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, noted that OSU sees a lot of students who have the capacity to be entrepreneurs and business leaders.
While some individuals have good business instincts, others need to learn them, and both types still need help to run their small businesses, he said.
Colleges and universities play a role in the entrepreneurial community by providing educational resources and serving as a conduit to the community, Barnett said.
Margaret White, an associate professor in the Department of Management at OSU, played an integral role in launching SourceLink Tulsa and working with the chamber to identify the necessary resource partners, he said.
Definition: A one-stop program
offered through the
Tulsa metro Chamber that
links small businesses and
entrepreneurs to nonprofit
and government resources.
Contact number: 560-0275
or (888) 424-9411.
Web site: tulsaworld.com/sourcelink
Location: SourceLink Business
Center, 2 W. Second
St., plaza level.
Laurie Winslow 581-8466