‘Gut check’ for businesses

Small business expert to bring principles of Destination BootCamp to Belleville

By Deb Hadachek Telescope editor

Building communities is a bottom-up process, says small business strategist Jon Schallert.

“I’ve been in extremely small towns where businesses pull customers from literally hundreds of miles away,” says Schallert. Some people expect organizations like Chambers of Commerce or economic development agencies to invent a community, when it is really the individual business owners who create that atmosphere, he says.

“If entrepreneurs learn these skills sets, they create a bigger pie for everyone. It doesn’t take a huge tax increase or large financial investment of communities.”

Schallert, who operates Destination Boot Camp in Longmont, Colo., will bring his brand of wisdom to Belleville on Thursday, November 30 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Blair Theater. Admission is free to county residents, and $5 for out-of-county residents.

Local business owners who have spent time with Schallert say the investment in time to listen to vision to build businesses will be time well spent.

“Jon makes you think about what makes your business unique,” says Monica Douglas, who owns Belleville Hometown Lumber in Belleville and Clyde with her husband, Dan.

“He’s been in the trenches in retail business in a very difficult economic climate, so he knows what he’s talking about.”

In the case of Belleville Hometown Lumber, Douglas said Schallert helped her realize that a roof and floor truss-building service their business offers is something that isn’t readily available in the region.

“We aren’t ones to brag about ourselves,” Douglas says of she and her husband. “But Jon made me realize how important it is to promote what we do and do well.” Douglas, Megan Melby of Melby’s Home Center in Scandia, and Jeannette Sheets, owner of Dairy Queen in Belleville, along with Republic County Economic Development Director Luke Mahin, recently spent several days of intensive study with Schallert at his workshop in Colorado. Staff from Food Mart, the Feathered Nest, and the High Banks Hall of Fame previously attended the 14-step training.

Both Douglas and Melby say they are “still processing” the wealth of information they gleaned. “This isn’t all things we can do right now,” Melby says. “We came back with a 12 month plan and a five year plan. And we got to talk to other businesses about what they’re implementing, and ideas that made me think ‘we could do that’.”

Douglas agrees. “This gives you a chance to work on your business, rather than just in it. We get so caught up in the day to day that we can’t always think beyond that,” she says.

Melby says that she, Douglas and Sheets came home so inspired by the experience, that they’ve discussed ways to help other business owners to attend–from helping with expenses to volunteering to work in their stores.

“It is one hundred percent worth every day we spent there,” she says.

Grants available

The six local businesses that attended were funded through a Rural Business Development Initiative grant from North Central Regional Planning and NCKCN. Additional funding came from e-community funding through NetWork Kansas, an agency Republic County Economic Development and the Revolving Loan Fund partner with to provide low-interest loans to Republic County businesses.

“RCED and Belleville Chamber & Main Street chose to invest in our businesses to help remove a barrier for additional education and resources,” says Mahin. “Sending multiple businesses, we hoped to provide an experience that can help expand or shift the mindset of a destination community.”

View the Facebook event here – www.facebook.com/events/1527178114030109/