Karl Kraus has some general advice for entrepreneurs just starting out on their road to creating a new business.
“Define what you are offering, who your market is and what value your business offers to the customer,” said Kraus, Senior Business Specialist and Manager of Temple’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Ambler Campus. “Draw up a plan and seek out independent advice.”
That’s where the Small Business Development Center comes in. The SBDC, an outreach center of the Fox School of Business and Management, has been working to help fledgling businesses bridge the gap between concepts to customers since 1983. The Ambler branch of the SBDC opened its doors in the Ambler Campus Library Building in March 2019.
“Our mission is to help small businesses grow, thrive and survive. We help them build their business from the ground up,” said Kraus, who is also a technology and manufacturing specialist. “The Temple Ambler SBDC predominantly serves the suburbs, the surrounding Philadelphia communities — a convenient location to ‘get in, get help, and get out,’ because time is a precious commodity for any new business. It’s a big benefit to be located right within the neighborhood.”
Kraus said the Ambler Campus SBDC is focused on “businesses that are more typical in Montgomery and Bucks counties, such as technology, life sciences and manufacturing.”
“Since the campus is home to Temple’s Landscape Architecture and Horticulture programs, we’d like to work with local landscape architecture and horticulture businesses to see what might be possible working together,” he said. “That’s something we’d definitely like to explore further with the Tyler School of Art and Architecture and the faculty here on campus.”
On a daily basis, Kraus said, the SBDC provides a comprehensive set of consulting services that cover topics such as business strategy, financial analysis, marketing strategy, research, government and large institutional procurement, manufacturing and supply chain issues, and the commercialization of technology.
“Our consultants work with entrepreneurs in one-to-one sessions to help them with a range of business issues including testing a new business proposition, shaping a business plan and investigating funding opportunities,” he said. “We want to get them to the point where they have a draft business plan in hand. Once there, we have consultancy options that go well past the business plan — we have start-up consulting specialists and procurement specialists ready to work with them.”
Kraus said the businesses that the Ambler Campus SBDC works with are an eclectic mix that run the gamut from a landscape and nursery supply service to a brew pub and restaurant — the owners are renovating a 1909-era firehouse — to a high precision machine shop that serves the oil and gas industry.
“Small businesses encompass a wide range of companies and services. A small business, for example, could be a manufacturing plant that has 500 employees,” he said. “Our goal is to enhance and improve economic development within the region. The SBDC is here for anyone who would like to improve their business — it’s that simple.”
In addition to the wealth of consultancy services the SBDC provides, the Temple Ambler office will offer a business incubator of eight to 12 businesses specifically designed for military veterans, said Small Business Development Center Director Maura Shenker.
“We are working with veterans to take them through the entire business development process, from pre-venture to starting a business to building revenue,” she said.
The six-month comprehensive Veteran Business Training program will be free to veteran participants. Upon completion of the program, veteran start-ups will have a completed business plan; a perfected elevator pitch; a peer support network, business mentor, and business consultant; an understanding of specialized business support programs for veterans; six-month access to co-working space; and knowledge of how to access start-up capital.
The incubator, Shenker said, provides start-up businesses that don’t yet have a home of their own with shared office services.
“It provides them with ready access to computers, phones, space to meet clients while also giving them easy access to consultants and SBDC services,” she said. “It gives them a place where they can really get their business going without feeling like they have to go it alone.”
Interested veteran entrepreneurs are asked to apply online.
Throughout the fall, the Ambler Campus office of the SBDC will also host a series of free workshops designed to help small businesses achieve success.
“Procurement” is a series of seven workshops offered on Fridays from September 20 through October 25 highlighting topics ranging from Navigating the Procurement Process to Supplier Diversity and How to Develop Your Strategy for Success.
“Global Mindset” is a three-part series offered on Tuesdays, from October 1 through 15 for those thinking about expanding their business internationally.
All Procurement and Global Mindset workshops will be held in Widener Hall at Temple Ambler. Participants are invited to register for any or all of the workshops.
Additionally "Introduction to QuickBooks for Entrepreneurs" will be held on Saturday, November 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Ambler Campus Learning Center. The fee for the QuickBooks course is $75.