Entrepreneurial program helps Brookside businesses grow

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City boasts several programs meant to help entrepreneurs with ideas turn those ideas into a business.

But what about already-established businesses that want to reach the next level?

Turns out, there's a program that's got that covered, too. And it's been helping local businesses grow.

Brookside Barkery and Bath has become a fixture in town; in fact they're celebrating their 10th anniversary this year.

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"My husband and I are very proud of that. When we opened back in 2001. You know you're kind of like don't even think about 10 years. Now that we're here, it went by so fast," Delena Stout said, who started the pet product and grooming store.

But pride at becoming established seemed mixed with a little restlessness.

"You know when you top out, you kind of go 'ok now what do we do from here?" Stout  said.

What Stout did was turn to the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program. That's how she met Jack Schmid.

"We're in the second year of our relationship and I think it's worked pretty well," Schmid,  a H.E.M.P. mentor, said.

The intensive three-year program matches well established-businesses with mentors who can help them reach the next level. It requires rigorous and honest self examination regarding the businesses strengths, weaknesses and ultimate goals. The one-on-one relationship between mentor and business is highly organized and facilitated.

The Barkery decided to open an online store.

"I really wanted Jack, because his experience on the online side was very, very critical to our success. And it cut the learning curve as well," Stout said.

That's exactly the effect the program is aiming for. H.E.M.P. says it's research shows it's participant businesses average 43% revenue growth and 30% employee growth. They say the program has contributed $748 million to the Kansas City economy over the last eight years.

Scott King of Kendal King Group is a graduate and was so impressed he wanted to give back. Now he's head of the program's marketing committee and recruits mentors and 'mentees.'

"We're looking for both. We've got an August 1 deadline and I would encourage anybody who has an interest in the program to take a look at the website," King said.

 

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