Why Attending Conferences is Good for Your Business


It is no secret: small business owners are busy people and often feel like they don’t have the time to do everything. Attending conferences can fall onto their list of things I wish I had time for but don’t, especially in this day and age when there is such a plethora of information available online. Professional development, however, is important for business owners and, in many cases, for their employees as well.

Here are a few reasons why attending conferences can be good for you, your employees, and your business:

• Interaction with other people at live professional events can be energizing and make people feel even more committed to success.

• Conferences provide opportunities to learn new information or skills, inspire people to try new things, and have a better sense for how to deal with challenges along the way.

• Sometimes you need to get outside of your business- your “box” – to think outside of the box.

• You can connect with resources that you might otherwise never connect with.

• Presenters at conferences are knowledgeable and willing to share their experiences – both successes and challenges.

• Investment in yourself and in your employees is important for personal satisfaction with the workplace.

The Kansas SBDC is hosting a Rural and Independent Innovators Conference in Manhattan on January 28th and 29th.  RIIC will take attendees through the lifecycle of getting from idea to commercialization and will enable them to connect with valuable resources and inspiring entrepreneurs. Two weeks away, we are excited about the enthusiasm that the participants are already demonstrating and about the positive outcomes that this conference will help support! Register here.

RIIC is sponsored by: Washburn University SBDC, America’s SBDC Kansas, North Central Regional Planning Commission, NCKCN, Networks Plus, Central National Bank,  Junction City & Geary County Economic Development Commission,  Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration, Kansas Department of Commerce, USDA Rural Development and K-State Technology Development Institute

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisors

Washburn University SBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

Posted in Employees, success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rural and Independent Innovators Conference: Program Details


Manhattan, Kansas

We are very excited about RIIC and looking forward to meeting innovators! Program details are included below.  (More information can be found here.)

Day 1 – January 28, 2019

8:00 – 8:25 Sign-in

8:30 – 8:50 Opening Address: The Importance of Innovation, by Kent Glasscock, President of the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization

8:50 – 9:45  Panel: You think that you have an innovative idea – or you are trying to get involved in innovation – how do you know whether you should move forward? Alan, Badgley, Kansas SBDC Technology Commercialization Center; Tim Carty, EMP Shield; Bret Lanz, Technology Development Institute; and,Tim Penner, Harper Industries.

9:45 – 10:00  Break 

10:00 – 10:50 Panel: Once you have decided to move forward, what steps do you take? Nick Graham, Sileo Corp; Tim Haynes, FAB LAB at Independence Community College; Karl Klein, Washburn University Kansas SBDC; and, Rick LeJuerrne, Flow Capital, LLC.

10:55 – 11:50 Panel: Pulling Together Financing for Early Stage Ventures. Trish Brasted, Wichita Technology Corporation; Joe Fiorella, Central Funding Exchange;  Imagene Harris, NetWork Kansas; and, Doug McKinney, North Central Kansas Planning Commission.

11:50 – 12:45 Lunch Break: 

12:45 – 1:40 Panel: SBIR Grants. Tom Byler, Kansas SBDC; Bill Carey, Kansas SBDC Technology Commercialization Center;  and, Debra Franklin, WSU Strategic Initiatives.

1:45 – 2:40  Intellectual Property Basics by  Sara Butts, Engineering, Patents, and Trademark Librarian & Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) Representative, Wichita State University Libraries

2:40– 2:55 Break 

2: 45 – 3:40 Panel: Managing Risks.  Jerry Horton, Networks Plus; Patricia Judd, Washburn University School of Law; and, Rick LeJuerrne, Flow Capital LLC. 

3:45 – 4:40 Panel: Dealing with Pain Points: Knowing When to Call it Quits or How to Keep Moving Forward.  Trish Brasted, Wichita Technology Corporation; Bill Carey, Kansas SBDC Technology Commercialization Center; Nick Graham, Sileo Corp.; and, Pete Keegan, EMP Shield.

4:40 – 5:00 Lanes of Commercialization, Alan Badgley, SBDC

5:00 – 6:30 Networking

Day 2: January 29, 2019

Sign -in 7:30 – 7:55

Speaker: 8:00 – 8:25 Business Growth through International Markets, Dennis Pedersen of GT Mfg. Inc.

8:30 – 9:35 Round Table:  Product Development, Scalability and Production. Jim Correll, FAB LAB at Independence Community College; Fred Goertzen, Goertzen Manufacturing; Bret Lanz, Technology Development Institute; and, Tim Penner, Harper Industries.

9:35 – 9:45 Break

9:45 – 10:50 Round Table: Accessing Markets:  Tom Byler, Kansas SBDC; Scott Knapp, PTAC; Ken Williams, K-State Institute for Commercialization.

10:45 – 10:55 Break

10:55 – 12:00 Round Table: Financing for Later Stage Projects. Salih Doughramaji, Kansas Department of Commerce; Doug Haverkamp, Central National Bank; and,  Lyle Peterson, MidAmerica Angels.

12:00 – 12:30 Lunch Break 

12:30 – 1:00 Concluding Talk: Exit Strategies by Karl Klein, Washburn University Kansas SBDC & Tom Byler, Washburn University Kansas SBDC


Register here or by phone at our new office number: 785.215.8375

RIIC is sponsored by: Washburn University SBDC, Kansas SBDC, North Central Regional Planning Commission, NCKCN, Networks Plus, Central National Bank,  Junction City & Geary County Economic Development Commission,  Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration, Kansas Department of Commerce, USDA Rural Development and Technology Development Institute.

Please check here back for program updates.

Posted in business growth, success, Success Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rural and Independent Innovators Conference

Do you have an innovative idea but are unsure of whether or how to move forward? Or are you a company looking to expand through innovation but do not know how to access innovative ideas? Are you wanting to learn more about how to become an innovator?

On January 28th and 29th, the Kansas SBDC will be hosting our first Rural and Independent Innovators Conference (RIIC). We are very excited about this opportunity to connect with innovators in rural communities and innovators who lack the support of a university or corporate research program.

RIIC is a day and a half long conference to help innovators – and businesses that want to be involved in innovation – understand how to get from idea to commercialization.  The conference will be geared toward, but not limited to,  those interested in products and technology.  (View schedule here.)

Our goals are to help rural and independent innovators recognize good ideas, understand the steps for moving forward with them and mitigate risks along the way so that they can successfully bring their innovations to market! Successful commercialization of innovations is vital for growing the Kansas economy and for supporting jobs growth, especially in rural communities.

Our presenters include subject matter experts and businesses willing to share their experiences: Alan Badgley (Kansas SBDC Technology Commercialization Center), Sara Butts (Wichita State University Libraries), Trish Brasted (Wichita Technology Corporation), Tom Byler (Kansas SBDC),  Bill Carey (Kansas SBDC Technology Commercialization Center), Tim Carty (EMP Shield), Jim Correll (FAB LAB, ICC),  Salih Doughramaji (Kansas Department of Commerce), Joe Fiorella (Central Funding Exchange), Debra Franklin (WSU Strategic Initiatives), Kent Glasscock (K-State Institute for Commercialization), Fred Goertzen (Goertzen Manufacturing), Nick Graham (Sileo Corp), Imagene Harris (NetWork Kansas), Doug Haverkamp (Central National Bank), Tim Haynes (FAB LAB, ICC), Pete Keegan (EMP Shield), Patricia Judd (Washburn Univ. School of Law), Karl Klein (Kansas SBDC), Scott Knapp (PTAC), Bret Lanz (Technology Development Institute), Rick LeJuerrne (Flow Capital LLC), Dennis Pedersen (GT Mfg. Inc), Tim Penner (Harper Industries), Lyle Peterson (MidAmerica Angels), Randy Snider (USDA Rural Development), and Ken Williams (K-State Institute for Commercialization). (Please check back for updates.)

Dates: January 28 – 29, 2019

Location: Bluemont Hotel, Manhattan, KS 66502

Space is limited. Register early by phone at our new office number: 785.215.8375 or online at https://ksbdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/24437 

Cost to attend Day #1 only: $70

Cost to attend Day #2 only: $50

Cost to attend both Day #1 and Day #2: $85

RIIC is sponsored by: Washburn University SBDC, Kansas SBDC, North Central Regional Planning Commission, NCKCN, Networks Plus, Central National Bank,  Junction City & Geary County Economic Development Commission,  Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration, Kansas Department of Commerce, USDA Rural Development and K-State Technology Development Institute.

For more information about the schedule or program, please contact ksbdc@washburn.edu. 

We are looking forward the interesting conversations that are bound to occur at this conference and to seeing their results!

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University SBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

Posted in business growth, Exporting, success | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Honoring Veterans


In recognition of our United States veterans, last week was National Veterans Small Business Week. The Kansas SBDC at Washburn University together with the U.S. SBA Wichita District Office and Veterans Business Resource Center in Kansas City held events in Manhattan, Kansas and Milford Lake, Kansas to help support our veteran-owned business community. Together, we help with access to capital, government contracting and advising on a wide range of topics for small businesses.

Thank you, veterans, for your service. We wish you success in your endeavors and are honored to assist you with your businesses.

National and Local Resources

America’s SBDC – Use this link to find your local SBDC (small business development center) for workshops and one-on-one business advising anywhere in the country.

America’s SBDC Kansas: Washburn University KSBDC (the MACC Outreach Center is closest to Ft. Riley), University of Kansas KSBDC (closest to Ft. Leavenworth),  Wichita State University KSBDC (closest to McConnell Air Force Base), plus Fort Hays State University KSBDC, Pittsburg State University SBDC, Emporia State University KSDBC, Johnson County Community College KSBDC and Seward County Community College KSBDC. Centers offer one-on-one business advising, speciality consulting, workshops, training events and conferences for small businesses.

SBA Contracting Resources – Information about training on government contracting and programs to support the competitiveness of small businesses in contracting. SBA Wichita District Office: (316) 269-6616

SBA Veterans Advantage  – Information about loan programs to assist veterans access capital for their businesses.

Veterans Business Resource Center  (VBRC) – Also called Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), this center conducts training for transitioning military and veteran business owners, helps connect veterans with resources and counseling.   KC Office (877) 825-4190

Boots to Business  This is a 2-day intensive introduction to entrepreneurship for transitioning military and/or their spouses. It is part of the Transition Assistance Program. In Kansas, it is offered Ft. Riley, Ft. Leavenworth and McConnell Air Force Base. Presenters from the SBA, SCORE, KSBDC, and VBRC teach the modules at these Kansas installations.

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) – You can get assistance in registering for government contracting here and also training on government contracting. PTAC has offices at Wichita State University and in Topeka.

VA Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization – You can register for verification as a veteran-owned business here, plus this website has information about training events and networking opportunities for government contracting.

Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) – This office promotes veteran entrepreneurship through use of SBA programs. This website has information about SBA training programs, SBA loan programs, and government contracting.



view from Milford Lake Conference Center at Acorns Resort

Thank you to Acorns Resort, Iron Clad and Della Voce Restaurant for helping to host the National Veterans Small Business Week events in Manhattan and Milford Lake.

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Washburn University SBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas







Posted in success, Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sugar Creek Country Store and the Kansas SBDC

Thank you to Dan Hohman from Sugar Creek Country Store for sharing his story about working with the Kansas SBDC and to Harvest Video for producing the video! It is a pleasure and honor to work with such talented people!

Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University Kansas SBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

Posted in success, Success Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SBA Disaster Assistance


Thank you to Michael Aumack from the Wichita District Office of the SBA for providing information for this article.

Update for Clay, Geary, Marshall, Pottawatomie, Riley, Wabaunsee and Washington counties. 

Passages quoted below are from the U. S. Small Business Administration News Release Number:  KS 15692-01, dated September 17, 2018.

“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to Kansas businesses and residents affected by flash flooding, flooding and severe storms that occurred Sept. 1-3, 2018, announced Administrator Linda McMahon of the U.S. Small Business Administration. SBA acted under its own authority to declare a disaster in response to a request SBA received from Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D. on Sept. 11, 2018.”

“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to businesses of all sizes, most private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters whose property was damaged or destroyed by this disaster,” said SBA’s Director Tanya N. Garfield of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West. “Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 18, SBA representatives will be on hand at the following Disaster Loan Outreach Center to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their application,” Garfield continued. The center will be open on the days and times indicated below. No appointment is necessary.



Disaster Loan Outreach Center

City Park

(Former Parks and Recreation Office)

1101 Fremont St

Manhattan, KS  66502

Opens 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18

Mondays – Fridays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Closes 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept 27


“Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.”

“For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.”

“Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.govfor more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.”


The deadline to apply for property damage is Nov. 13, 2018. The deadline to apply for economic injury is June 14, 2019.


(Original blog post below.)

Due to recent flooding in Manhattan and surrounding areas of Kansas – with some vicinities receiving almost 9 inches of rain overnight – our office has received inquiries about SBA Disaster Assistance. Hopefully, this post will shed light on the process of how an area becomes eligible for SBA Disaster Loans and the loan application process.  SBA Disaster Loans are available to businesses of any size, nonprofit organizations, churches, homeowners and renters in eligible areas. These direct loans are long-term, low-interest rate loans to help with disaster recovery.

The Declaration Process

A Presidential Disaster Declaration for the flooding in Manhattan would would trigger both FEMA and SBA-Disaster assistance.  Both FEMA and SBA-Disaster Assistance (ODA) require the state’s governor to declare an official disaster with a request for federal government assistance. One a disaster declaration has been made, if Governor Coyler issues the request, FEMA and SBA-ODA will go to the affected areas to review the situation and set-up a disaster recovery center(s) where people can go to apply for assistance. Disaster recovery centers are generally set up in easily accessible locations for people who do not have computer access; but the SBA-ODA encourages people to apply for a disaster loan online, when possible, to save time.

As of this writing, it is our belief that processes are being followed, though the Kansas Adjutant Governor webpage that lists disaster declarations does not yet list the flooding in Manhattan. Here is where one can check declarations at the state level for Kansas:  http://www.kansastag.gov/KDEM.asp?PageID=434

In addition, here are two websites with national-level information that can be searched to review when a disaster declaration is open/active for SBA assistance:

•  https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations/Index

•  https://www.disasterassistance.gov/

The Application Process

Once a declaration and state’s request for aid are official, affected business owners, nonprofits, churches,  homeowners and renters should go to either of these webpages to get more information and, if needed, to apply for assistance:

•  https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

•  https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance

The application-review-funding process is described in detail in this document:  https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Documents/Three_Step_Process_SBA_Disaster_Loans.pdf

Funds are generally available within 5 days after the SBA has received the signed closing documents.


For assistance with on-going processes involved in disaster recovery, affected businesses in Manhattan or elsewhere in Kansas, should contact their local Kansas SBDC office. Businesses in the greater Manhattan area should contact ksbdc@washburn.edu.

Small businesses and the people who work in them are vital parts of our local communities. For the sake of the business owners, their employees, and those who depend on their products and services, we at the Kansas SBDC do what we can to assist with business continuity and recovery.

Our thoughts go out to those who suffered losses during the recent weather event.

Related Articles

Developing a Small Business Continuity Plan

Understanding Business Insurances

National Preparedness Month


Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Washburn University Kansas SBDC

America’s SBDC Kansas

Posted in Capital/Financing/Grants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Government Contracting for Women-Owned Small Businesses


Contracting opportunities with the world’s largest consumer of goods and services offer tremendous potential for financial growth to women-owned small businesses.

As part of the Federal Government Resources Streamlining Act of 1994, the U.S. government set a goal of awarding 5% of its contracts to small businesses owned by women. To help reach this goal, in 2011, the Small Business Administration (SBA) instituted the Women-Owned Small Business Program. This allows federal government contracting officers to set aside contracts for competition exclusively among women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) or among economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) in industries in which WOSBs and EDWOSBs, respectively, are deemed underrepresented. (Note: only industries on these lists can qualify for such set asides; but these are not the only contracts for which women-owned businesses can compete and win.)

To put the 5% goal in context, the U.S. federal government spends an estimated $500 billion annually on goods and services and of this about $260 billion are contracts on which small businesses can be prime contractors. That means about $25 billion should be going to WOSBs and EDWOSBs with close to $13 billion eligible to them as primes.  The Small Business Dashboard shows federal agencies’ spending on contracts awarded to small businesses.

These opportunities mean that  WOSBs and EDWOSBs should know what steps to take to get started in government contracting and then take them when they see an opportunity! 2015 was the first year in which the 5% goal was met and there are still plenty of opportunities for WOSBs and EDWOSBs to capitalize on sales to the government. SBA and its partners – PTAC, SBDC and SCORE – have advisors who can help small businesses, including WOSBs and EDWOSBs, get started in government contracting.

The first step for eligible businesses is getting certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB. The second is competing for  contracts.

Eligibility for WOSB

Size: To be eligible to qualify as a WOSB for the purpose of federal government contracting, a business must, of course, be a small business according federal standards. This is determined, on an industry by industry basis, differentiated by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. (Read more about NAICS.) The limit will pertain either to the annual gross revenues (e.g., only $750K for strawberry farming – NAICS 111333 – but $36.5 M for commercial and institutional building construction – NAICS 236220) or to number of employees (e.g., only 250 employees for solar electric power generation- NAICS 221114 – but 1,250 employees for manufacturing chocolate and confections made from cocoa beans – NAICS 311351). When bidding on a contract, additionally, the business must be a small business according to the NAICS code for the job if more than one NAICS code applies to the business. This tool from the SBA can be used to determine size-eligibility. (Note: WOSB and EDWOSB have separate NAICS codes for determination of industry-specific underrepresentation for set aside contracts.)

Women-ownership: One or more women must have ownership with at least 51% of the business owned and controlled by a woman or women; and these women must be U.S. citizens. This means that up to 49% of the company’s ownership can be men.

Women-management: Women must not only manage daily operations of the business but also be responsible for making long-term decisions affecting the business. This means that the 51% women owners cannot be uninvolved owners or even play just a minor role in the company.

Eligibility for EDWOSB 

In addition to meeting the requirements for WOSB, EDWOSB are subject to the following economic restrictions.

Annual Income: The women who own and control the business must each have an adjusted gross income  (averaged over 3 years) of less than $350K.

Personal Net Worth: The women who own and control the business must each have personal net worth (i.e., worth of assets minus liabilities) of less than $750K.

Personal Assets: The women who own and control the business must each have personal assets  (regardless of liabilities) of $6M or less.

Getting Certified

Before starting the process, a business should have a profile in the System for Award Management (SAM). It is important to set this up correctly. Businesses that have been in existence for at least one year can receive assistance with the process from an advisor at their local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). PTAC can also assist with steps such as getting a Dun & Bradstreet Number (DUNS), a Commercial And Government Entity Code (CAGE) and a notarized letter listing ownership of the company.

Self-Certification: For now, women-owned small businesses can still self-certify at certify.SBA.gov. The process involves answering questions and uploading documents. It is a good idea to review the preparation checklist before starting. (Due to potential abuse of the self-certification system, the ability to self-certify may change in the future and so it is a good idea for certified businesses to stay current on changes in certification requirements.)

Third-Party Certification: In the future, some sort of third-party certification may be needed for eligibility for federal contracting and it is already required by some smaller government agencies and private companies. There are currently four organizations that have SBA approval to do certifications which can be found toward the bottom of the SBA webpage on WOSB.

Competing for Contracts

The main place to look for opportunities is FedBizOpps.Gov . This is the website where government contracts for $25,001 –  $150K are posted. The website has a FAQs page and training videos for using the site. Use this to search for potential contracts. Respond to sources sought notices for jobs that you are capable of performing. If two or more women-owned businesses respond, the contract might be set aside for WOSBs or EDWOSBs; but if there are not responses from WOSBS/EDWOSBs to sources sought notices, or if the responding firms are not capable of performing the jobs, the contracts cannot be set aside.

Contracts of $5,001 – $25K do not need to be publicized but must receive at least three bids. For this reason, it is a good idea to attend government contracting events, such as contracting open houses, to make connections for learning about opportunities.

It is important that bids submitted be reasonable, i.e., you need the ability to perform the contract, perform it at a reasonable price and still be able to make a profit. It is also important to understand the mission and goals of the federal agency and of the project for which it is soliciting bids.  Proposals should reflect familiarity with this background. Further tips can be found on the SBA blog.

If this sounds promising, the SBA has a 30-minute online course that small businesses can take on preparing proposals for bidding on government contracts. The SBA and its partner organizations also offer in person workshops on government contracting.

Bid contracts, however, are not the only avenue for selling to the federal government. Jobs for $5K and under do not have to go through the bidding process but may be filled on the open market. Even for these, certification as a WOSB or EDWOSB can be advantageous because even jobs under $5K, when filled by certified businesses, help fulfill the government’s 5% goal and there are a lot of jobs that fall into this category.

Federal government contracting can be complicated; but, because of the vast array of opportunities and the potential value they hold for small businesses, there are resources for assistance available through the SBA and its local partners:

Wichita SBA Office Phone: 316-269-6616

Kansas City SBA Office Phone: 816-426-4840

Wichita State University PTAC Office Phone: (316) 978-6788

GO Topeka PTAC Office Phone: (785) 234-2644

Johnson County Community College PTAC Office Phone: (913) 469-8500 x. 2313

Kansas SBDC Locations and Contact Information

SCORE Chapters in Kansas

Small businesses interested in government contracting are encouraged to make use of assistance available from the resources!

Links to further information:


Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Kansas SBDC at Washburn University

America’s SBDC Kansas

SBA PoweredBy with statement  kansaslogoWUKSBDC Logo

Posted in business growth, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment