Resources for Local Entrepreneurs

Posted on April 16, 2021
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Resources for Local Entrepreneurs*

By Wayne Miller, executive director of The Venture Center

If we’ve learned anything about entrepreneurs over the last seven years of supporting them, it’s this: Supporting entrepreneurship and small business looks a lot less like paving a road for people and a lot more like removing obstacles preventing folks from blazing their own unique trails.
At first, many people are unsure if their idea or business is the type The Venture Center is here to guide. The answer is almost always a resounding “yes!” Though one of the most exciting things about entrepreneurship is how different each journey is, certain elements can be the difference between a business taking off or fizzling — namely, education, collaboration and acceleration. By focusing on these three concepts, The Venture Center offers something valuable for ventures at any point of the entrepreneurial journey.
Too many ventures never make it out of the potential entrepreneur’s headspace because of simply not knowing how to get started. The world of entrepreneurship can be opaque and overwhelming, and we aim to remove that obstacle through education. We can’t say enough that the journey of entrepreneurship is a lifelong journey in educating yourself. From marketing webinars or tax prep lessons to workshops on making it in the hardware space, educational needs are never-ending. And thanks to our incredible community, we always have experts ready to provide free guidance and assistance at our educational and networking events.

Collaboration is the cornerstone of everything we do at The Venture Center. We firmly believe that rising tides raise all ships and we see every day that authentic connection is where the magic happens. We guide connection and collaboration in our structured programs like Jolt, our pitch events, and our Origin sessions. While authentic connection cannot be forced or manufactured, we facilitate the conditions that lead to those breakthrough moments by bringing people together.

One of the most powerful ways we bring people together, though, is through our mentorship program. We are incredibly fortunate to have the depth of mentors we do. Mentorship can be one of the most potent forms of collaboration. Anyone who has had an important mentor or mentee in their life knows how personally meaningful the relationship is and for each person’s professional life. And speaking of breakthrough moments, having a mentor is essential for shaping the energy of breakthrough ideas into meaningful progress.

While we call our fintech programs accelerators, those programs are not the only way to accelerate or scale a business. Our mentorship programs, our pre-accelerator Spark!, and various programming geared explicitly for growth bring resources to entrepreneurs looking to accelerate their company’s growth to the next level.

After two successful Spark! programs, we are more excited than ever for our third cohort. The Little Rock Regional Chamber is a co-sponsor of Spark!, and one of its biggest supporters! And together, we’ve helped expand and strengthen the entrepreneurial community right here in Central Arkansas. Our Spark! alumni have gone on to win prizes in pitch competitions and have fostered strong relationships among the business community. These programs put our local entrepreneurs on a trajectory for growth and connect them with strongly supportive mentors. Stay tuned for details about the application period and process.

The last year has certainly been full of trials, but trials can also open doors to new pathways and new opportunities.

Entrepreneurship has brought our country out of hard times before, and it certainly will once again. For Arkansas entrepreneurs, The Venture Center provides education, collaboration and acceleration, all completely free and open to all entrepreneurs. We invite you to ensure the entrepreneurs in Arkansas have all the resources they need to thrive. Get involved with our programs, or encourage entrepreneurs you know to sign up for our newsletters, so they are the first to know when exciting programs and opportunities arise!

The Venture Center is a globally-recognized, Arkansas-based Entrepreneurial Support Organization (ESO) that helps entrepreneurs turn their startups into viable, high-growth businesses. By leveraging the expertise of a world-class team of mentors, intensive programming and introductions to the investor community, The Venture Center serves as an engine for economic growth in Arkansas and beyond. 

*This originally appeared in the Little Rock Regional Chamber Newsletter.