May 10, 2022
The Library’s Square One Small Business Services team supports local entrepreneurs by connecting them with valuable business resources, offering free educational classes, and providing one-on-one guidance. Several Square One clients recently shared their experiences working with the Library [EB1] and how it has helped their businesses.
Kansas City entrepreneur Cindy Newland is one such client. Newland started Functional Fitness, a business focused on fitness and wellness, that targets local for-profit organizations. Prior to the pandemic, she went into corporate offices and taught wellness practices like yoga to employees.
Newland has used MCPL’s services while developing her business over the past five years. Most of the Library programs that she has participated in have focused on cultivating the online aspects of her business, such as advertising and social media. Support from the Library helped Newland accomplish several goals related to building her business, including learning how to effectively use Facebook ads—an important part of ensuring profitability.
Newland also highlighted some of the individualized support she has received from Square One, such as help with using Microsoft PowerPoint and information about branding. She also said that even if the Square One staff are unable to help, they work with her to find solutions. These services are a boon for small business owners like Newland who may not have the resources to hire consultants.
“The library will always answer questions that I have… and so far, I think they've answered all of them.”
Many small businesses lost customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Newland estimates she lost 75 percent of her business. The remaining 25 percent came from corporate clients who have continued to do fitness classes online. But losing customers did not slow Newland down. She expanded her business to include a new blog called Intentionally Eat, which provides recipes and related products that help people interested in a plant-based diet.
Her advice to others who are interested in entrepreneurship is to remember that building a business is hard work, and that failure is an important part of learning. For those who live in her area, she recommends proactively engaging with MCPL staff and the Square One program to learn more about available events and classes and take advantage of opportunities for one-on-one support.
“I tell everybody that owns a business to absolutely get in touch and get some help,” she said.
This blog was adapted from materials authored by Knology, a social science research and evaluation nonprofit. These materials were produced in partnership with Urban Libraries Council for the Strengthening Libraries as Entrepreneurial Hubs initiative, a project funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Knology was the independent external evaluator for the project and is solely responsible for the content in the original material.
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