116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Minding, and growing, your business
NewBoCo teams up with ICAD to offer series aimed at new business owners
By Rob Merritt, - NewBoCo
Jan. 29, 2023 5:00 am
IOWA CITY — One year ago, Erika Christiansen took a big risk. She turned her hobby of making handmade candles and gifts into a business, founding Tura Lura Co. in Iowa City.
It was a steep learning curve.
“I don’t have a business background,” she says. “My background is in the arts and in education. So all of the business aspects were surprising.
“I had to figure out what sort of liability insurance I needed, what bank account I should set up in Johnson County, what kind of business to file as. … I was trying to do a lot of research, but it wasn’t compiled together in any easy way.”
Today Tura Lura is thriving, with sales through both its website (https://www.turaluraco.com) and at the Iowa City Holiday Pop-Up Market in December.
Christiansen says the help she received from the Iowa City Area Business Partnership and Iowa City Area Development Group had a huge impact.
But she also wanted the process to be easier for other aspiring business owners, who could face the same questions she did.
‘Don’t let fear stop you’
In response to the needs of local entrepreneurs like Christiansen, NewBoCo and ICAD are teaming up to make answering those questions a little bit easier.
The new monthly Business Startup Speaker Series will lead current and aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through a step-by-step guide of how to start and grow a business.
Each month, a guest speaker will visit both MERGE co-working space in Iowa City and The Vault co-working space in Cedar Rapids to provide information and introduce resources to help new business owners with the basic administration, operation and go-to-market tools for getting started and staying open.
"If you have a great idea, don't let your fear stop you from pursuing it,” says Alex Taylor, managing director of the Iowa Startup Accelerator. “We're here to help businesses to make those ideas happen."
The first speaker is Julie Lammers, president of Lambo Business Services, who provides coaching and mentoring services to entrepreneurs and economic development centers.
She talked about administrative basics for new businesses on Wednesday in Iowa City and will speak Tuesday, from 8:30 to 10 a.m., at the Iowa Startup Accelerator/Geonetric Building, 415 12th Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids.
The sessions include information on getting registered and licensed; business names; business formation (sole proprietorship, LLC; C-Corp, S-Corp, non-profit;, state and local requirements (EIN, licensing); opening a bank account; and customary discovery.
The program is free, but advance registration is encouraged. Those interested in the Jan. 31 Cedar Rapids program can learn more at eventbrite.com/e/business-startup-speaker-series-tickets-476.
‘A gap we wanted to fill’
Liz Hubing, ICAD’s director of entrepreneurship and community engagement, says the project came about after a conversation with Alex Taylor at MERGE in October.
“We realized that we had a mutual interest in more business education, especially for idea-stage and early-stage entrepreneurs and business owners," she said. "There are so many incredible resources for entrepreneurs in our communities. It was clear that joining forces on a regional series would maximize our impact by allowing participants throughout the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids region to ask questions and plug into resources."
The next three sessions will be Legal 101, Business Financials, and Branding.
Taylor says if the program is successful, it could grow to include other cities as well.
‘Excited this is starting’
Christiansen says she plans to attend the speaker series, even with one year of experience under her belt.
“I’m very excited that this is starting,” she says. “I’m excited to go and listen, and learn from the experts. Because once you figure out what works for you, you can utilize that same information to grow. This program really gives members of the business community what they want.”