The Entrepreneurs’ Toolkit, a soup-to-nuts guide for Wisconsin entrepreneurs, is available at www.WItoolkit.com and through the Wisconsin Technology Council’s website. It was launched this month.
Produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council in partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the Toolkit is designed to give innovators a pathway to resources available in the state and beyond. Some highlighted resources have been available for years, if not decades; some are relatively recent additions to the toolbox and reflect Wisconsin’s commitment to building a more entrepreneurial culture and economy.
The Toolkit walks entrepreneurs through a range of resources – starting with online quizzes that helps people answer the core question of whether they’re suited for starting, financing, running and, quite often, selling a startup venture.
The Toolkit invites entrepreneurs to learn more about Wisconsin – including its history of innovation. It offers first steps that include suggestions from the WEDC, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Small Business Administration and more. The state of Wisconsin “Business Wizard,” available through WEDC, is a one-stop way to identify necessary permits, licenses and registration requirements that usually come with starting a business.
Entrepreneurs can also learn about a variety of business assistance programs, how to write a business plan, how to choose a business structure, where to find help with marketing and feasibility studies, and how to find a mentor.
The Toolkit’s “Finding money” section outlines the basics of qualifying for credit, of selecting a financial institution that can help, and the basics of pursuing private equity investments such as angel or venture capital. It also outlines some of the grant, loan and tax credit possibilities available through state, federal and local sources, such as “revolving loan funds” that operate in many Wisconsin communities.
The redesigned grant and loan programs operated by WEDC are included in this section, as well as a complete list of angel and venture resources available through the Tech Council’s Wisconsin Angel Network and national sources.
Because Wisconsin’s economy has distinct regional differences, the “Locating your business” tab provides specific information on sites, local business incubators and accelerators and the basics of running home-based businesses. The “Education and technology transfer” section gives tips on how to work with colleges and universities, how to get more training and specific advice, and how to go about patenting and licensing ideas.
The Toolkit also contains information on networking organizations, resources for women and minority business owners, tips on selling to the government, resources for selling overseas and more. The website is also where entrepreneurs can learn about selected events and news of interest. It’s also open for suggestions about new or updated resources.
“The existence of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Wisconsin isn’t necessarily well known, even inside our borders, but its growth over the past decade is a major reason why the state is steadily gaining a reputation for being friendly to startups,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. “The Entrepreneurs’ Toolkit speaks to that emerging culture.”
The Tech Council is the independent, non-profit science and technology advisor to the governor and the Legislature, and a catalyst for tech-based economic development in Wisconsin. Visit www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com to learn more. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is the state’s leading economic development organization. Learn more at www.wedc.org