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Entrepreneurship is a hidden love I discovered as an adult. This love was inspired by watching my father-in-law, Bill Toft. Bill retired from the Belvidere Fire Department as a Captain. In addition, he also has been a general contractor, realtor, plumber, real estate investor, and most recently, owner of Bush Gardens Bar and Grill in Belvidere.

It is exciting to talk about starting your own business. Owning your own business can be a very scary and lonely endeavor, but has many benefits as well. Local business owners are essential for a community, and the Rockford area needs more of them. If you are currently working in a job that is not a passion, then consider taking your zeal and turning it into a viable business. Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to determine their own work/life balance. They have the ability to build the business team of their choosing. Also, there is the potential to increase income since someone else is not determining compensation.

Entrepreneurs can have a feeling of accomplishment from establishing a business they created and leaving a legacy for their family to continue.

Being an entrepreneur is not without risk or struggle. Many business owners utilize their own funds or leverage personal assets which mean these can be lost. Smaller entrepreneurial organizations may have difficulty accessing capital and financing for capital projects, new business opportunities and support during tough times. Owning a business includes regulation and compliance filing requirements with federal, state and local governments. Entrepreneurs must invest funds and time in good employees with the risk of losing them in the future. Also, one’s personal time is potentially dictated by the business. Wanting to avoid the potential for a negative impact, many business owners do not share personal or business struggles. Therefore, it is important to have a network of trusted individuals that can provide support and resources.

Entrepreneurs are incredible assets to communities. They have created brand new industries such as internet shopping and mobile technologies in addition to creating new innovative products.

These new industries and products have the potential to create new jobs.  Profits can be spent in the local economy for products or services, invested in local businesses, or held by local financial institutions, which in turn provide for additional capital for lending.  Local service companies depend on other local businesses to survive. Attorneys, accountants, bankers and other business service providers benefit from new businesses created by entrepreneurs.

Communities need to educate more people to become entrepreneurs. This can be done through our schools starting at the elementary level and continuing through higher education. Business ownership can be taught through classes and school clubs. In addition, communities need to look for more ways for local entrepreneurs to connect with the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs to share their guidance and mentorship.

However, I believe the best education comes from experience. If someone wants to become a business owner, they should look at starting a business by either doing one part-time while working in your main job or by making a new business your full-time job.

If you or someone you know wants to get educated on entrepreneurship without many of the risks involved, consider signing up for Startup Weekend Rockford. Startup Weekend is run by Techstars. In just 54 hours, attendees will experience the highs, lows, fun and pressure that make up life at a startup. As they learn how to create a real company, they will meet the very best mentors, investors, cofounders and sponsors who are ready to help them get started. Startup Weekend Rockford is on November 11-13, 2016 and will be held at Rockford University.  You can learn more about attending or sponsoring by contact me at sdobbs@wipfli.com or 815.484.5606.

Scot Dobbs