8 no-cost, low-cost classes to help start a dream business

As Kansas Citians reel from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many are turning to entrepreneurship, reports ecosystem builder KCSourceLink, citing a 367 percent increase in the number of people who reported starting a business. 

The nonprofit, which helps new and seasoned entrepreneurs start and grow businesses by connecting them to more than 240 business-building resources in the metro, also reported a 176 percent increase in calls to its help desk from April to October.

“If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there are a lot of problems that need solving — and if there’s one thing that small business owners and entrepreneurs do best, it’s solving problems,” said Joel Barret, business development consultant with the Missouri Small Business Development Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a sister operation to KCSourceLink, which also is part of the UMKC Innovation Center.

Challenging economic times have historically seen increases in entrepreneurial activity, according to KCSourceLink — but that means entrepreneur support efforts are more important now than perhaps ever.

“With the help of Kansas City’s entrepreneurship network, aspiring entrepreneurs can leverage this time to lay the groundwork and make a solid plan to start a business with good habits, at their pace and with fewer hard lessons to learn down the road,” KCSourceLink said in a release.

The organization is promoting a series of no-cost and low-cost classes (including those that offer scholarships from the City of Kansas City, Missouri, at deep discounts), which can help aspiring business owners test the waters, build a network and create a new business without great financial risk.

“A lot of us have seen during COVID-19 that nothing is promised, and regardless of what happens, being an entrepreneur, you have the ability to control your destiny and your future,” said Carrissa Dowdy, founder of The Cosmetic Launchpad and graduate of ELEVATIONLAB Entrepreneurial Mindset Training, which is administered by the UMKC Innovation Center. “If you’re an entrepreneur, you can chart your own course.”

 Check out the selection of classes highlighted by KCSourceLink below.

Learn in a day what’s needed to start a business

For those who want to quickly learn what it takes to start a business and are seeking an overview of the basics to help them test their idea, these low-cost opportunities offer a great primer in just one day.

  • Business Basics in a Day: How to Start a Business
    8 a.m.-noon
    Tuesday, Dec. 15 | Wednesday, Dec. 16 | Thursday, Dec. 17
    This interactive, daylong course from the Kansas Small Business Development Center at Johnson County Community College teaches the fundamentals of what it takes to start a business and apply for a business loan, including determining if the business is feasible, creating a lean canvas plan, choosing a legal entity, forming financial projections, marketing, bookkeeping and much more.
    Cost: $75


  • The First Steps to Starting a Business
    9 a.m.-noon
    Tuesday, Dec. 15 | Thursday, Jan. 2 | Tuesday, Feb. 16 | Tuesday, March 16
    This three-hour class from the Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC outlines the critical first steps needed to start a business. Participants will learn how to assess their strengths and weaknesses in terms of business ownership, develop a plan, meet legal and regulatory requirements, identify sources of financing and more.
    Cost: $49


  • Simple Steps for Starting Your Business: Basics
    9:30 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Jan. 9
    6 – 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 9
    This is where it starts. SCORE-Kansas City provides a great overview of what it takes to start and run a business. Startup Basics focuses on testing a business idea and identifying the key factors that influence startup success.
    Cost: Free

Multiweek workshops for new entrepreneurs and businesses

The Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC offers a suite of high-impact classes for high-impact entrepreneurs. Those who live or operate a business in Kansas City, Missouri, can apply for an Urban Business Growth Initiative scholarship (thanks to the city of Kansas City, Missouri) to take the multisession workshops below for just $75. Those interested can apply for a scholarship here.

    9 a.m.-4 p.m., Jan. 12-Feb. 9, Tuesdays
    This program helps participants test their business idea to ensure it will be a success. Guest speakers and entrepreneurs will discuss what it’s like to start and run a business, and coaches will help inspire participants and solidify their ideas. This accelerated program is five sessions.
    Normal cost: $649
    Cost with UBGI scholarship: $75


  • Entrepreneurial Mindset Training
    5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Jan. 13-March 10, Wednesdays
    This nine-session course is for those who have a business idea but don’t know where to start and for those who want to learn how to be an entrepreneur. Participants learn how to build a vital business foundation (while also getting some inspiration and networking).
    Normal cost: $649
    Cost with UBGI scholarship: $75


    3 – 6 p.m. Feb. 18 – April 22 on Thursdays
    This nine-session course (designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs) will give those in the tech and science fields a proven framework and connections to help grow their great idea into the next viable innovation.
    Normal cost: $649
    Cost with UBGI scholarship: $75

Additional help with startup marketing and financials

It never hurts for entrepreneurs to get a refresh on two areas that will have the biggest impact on a business: marketing and money.

  • Social Media Road Map for Business
    5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
    Tuesday, Feb. 16
    Participants will craft a social media strategy for their company. Through examples and ideas, they will learn what really matters for their business, find out what to do about ugly comments and bad news, as well as learn a whole lot more. Those who take this class will leave with a clear action plan they can use.
    Normal cost: $199
    Cost with UBGI scholarship: Free


  • Reading and Understanding Financial Statements
    5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

    Tuesday, Feb. 23
    Financial statements may be complicated, but they’re also the core of any successful business. Experts guide participants through every tricky bit.
    Normal cost: $149
    Cost with UBGI scholarship: Free

Get answers to startup questions before class

KCSourceLink’s six-part guide gives aspiring entrepreneurs tips and resources for starting a business in Kansas City, and the startup ebook is an easy-reference checklist of the steps to take, business resources that can help and the story of how one KC entrepreneur started a business.

Aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners can call KCSourceLink at (816) 235-6500 and request their no-cost Personal Action Plan, which outlines the next steps for a new or existing businesses. Anyone can also schedule a time to meet virtually with a Network Navigator, who can help explore those next steps.

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