By: Amara Kniep
Growing Rural Businesses is a course offered by Wichita State University and sponsored by NetWork Kansas designed to meet the needs of small town business owners who are ready to grow. This course is only offered a handful of times per year on a competitive basis. After hearing many great things, I decided to take the class. I was curious how different the course would be from my college business classes. What I got was a wonderful experience filled with many great lessons and real world applications about entrepreneurship from experts in each field.
Each session was approximately three hours long, including dinner, and was presented by a professional in the field of discussion. The facilitators encouraged questions, which really engaged the audience and provided a more relaxed atmosphere. Group activities generated discussion and networking between the local entrepreneurs.
All of the information supplied was incredibly practical and easy to implement. The presenters ensured everyone could apply the material to their own businesses. Each presenter delivered the material in a personable way, with a little humor spliced in here and there that seems to really resonate with audience members.
In particular, Dr. Don Hackett presented at three different sessions and captivated us with his business experience and natural talent for teaching. Matthew Rupp, a Wichita business owner, taught a session regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with eye-opening demonstrations. Another especially useful session taught by Dr. Atul Rai focused on how entrepreneurs can use accounting to make effective business decisions. Each speaker made sure that class members had their contact information at the end of the night, solidifying how much they really care and are passionate about helping Kansas’ entrepreneurs thrive.
I particularly enjoyed the SEO session. The speaker was incredibly knowledgeable, packed in demonstrations, and the material was so relevant. The other session that I felt was especially compelling was the last session, which focused on all that we had learned and how to bring it together into an effective strategy. Overall, this class gave the entrepreneurs everything they would need to know to be successful.
Ciara Thyfault, Central Region E-Community coach, also attended the course. She helped find businesses to enroll in the class and was pleased with the result. “I'm very impressed with the McPherson Growing Rural Businesses class,” she said. “Jennifer Burch did a wonderful job bringing great local entrepreneurs together. We've had about a perfect attendance every week so I am sure the entrepreneurs value the class as well!”
I was impressed almost the entire class attended at least seven out of the eight sessions and were awarded a certificate of entrepreneurship from Wichita State University. It was clear the business owners found value in the course!
Although I don’t own a business, earning my own certificate was a proud moment for me in my continuing education. I am confident the knowledge I have gained will help me help other entrepreneurs through my work at NetWork Kansas!
The feedback that NetWork Kansas gathered by survey regarding this class was overwhelmingly positive and I would definitely agree with these positive reviews. Watching entrepreneurs ask questions, learn, and get excited about their prospective growth has been a valuable experience. McPherson is a vibrant community and this class really showed that with its sample of participants. There’s nothing like having a tool such as Growing Rural Businesses to drum up excitement about entrepreneurship and growth in the community.