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Business center at BHC offers help to entrepreneurs
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More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Joel Youngs is the director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center in Moline.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Joel Youngs is director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center in Moline.
MOLINE -- Even the furnishings and decorations of an office can be a lesson in achievement.

In Joel Youngs' office, his folders, calendar, stapler and books all seem arranged so he could find anything with eyes closed. A plant is well-groomed and happy looking, placed where it can be admired but not be in the way. The art on the wall hangs level.

It looks like a place where things can get done.

"People need to see what it takes to be successful," Mr. Youngs said.

That office is where Mr. Youngs, the director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center, brings entrepreneurs to help them start their business, grow it, save it or sell it.

Of course, it takes more than a tidy, well-organized office to make it in the business world.

"It takes an attitude. It takes passion," he said. "It takes good business basics. They have to come together in order to make it."

The center is operated through Black Hawk College in the Illinois Quad-Cities, he said. Much of the funding is federal money managed though the state. His office sees about 200 businesses a year.

Mr. Youngs said BHC's attitude is that creating jobs makes a stronger community. "And we're all better off for it," he added.

The center also partners with other groups, including the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, to help businesses, he said. There are roughly 1,400 small business development centers nationwide, with 36 in Illinois and 14 in Iowa. The Iowa Quad-Cities counterpart works through the Eastern Iowa Community College District.

At the centers, business owners of all stripes can get help. There is one-on-one counseling, courses on formulating business plans, advertising and different tools such as computer accounting programs. Mr. Youngs said the center even will help find and secure loans for projects, help acquire a space for the business or help find buyers for people who want to sell their businesses.

Operating a business is tough, he said, and the national average for business failure is about 80 percent in the first three years.

Many of the people who come to the center to learn more about starting a business decide it is not for them, while others realize they don't yet have the resources to get off the ground. Sometimes Mr. Youngs' office is the place he tells a would-be business owner that it might be better to let that dream go and try another.

Even among those who have both the desire and the resources, many don't make it, he said.

But there are ways to encourage success, he added.

Among the things a business owner needs to learn is that help very likely will have to be brought in from the outside at some point, Mr. Youngs said. He said most people who run small businesses are experts in their particular field -- they might be an excellent cook -- but not be so hot with the more business-oriented part of the equation.

"There's not enough time in the day for you to do everything," Mr. Youngs said.

Another thing an entrepreneur needs to know is their "number," he said. That means knowing how much business they have to be doing at a given point to be successful. "It allows you to make course corrections," he said.

New business owners also are well advised to make sure they pay themselves first, Mr. Youngs said. They have to be financially stable on a personal level.

Among existing business owners who come to the center, the plan is often to either expand the business or get out of some sort of trouble they have found themselves facing, he said. In the latter case, getting help sooner is usually better.

One business owner came in after losing about $1 million over several years and only had about three weeks of resources left, Mr. Youngs said. The business did not survive.

But another business had been losing about $5,000 a month for more than a year when it came to the center for help, Mr. Youngs said. Within six weeks of seeking aid, it had begun to turn a $1,500-a-month profit.

Mr. Youngs said he enjoys seeing businesses he's assisted be successful -- he's helping people fulfill their dreams.

"When that happens, it really makes this job not a job," he said.


Supporting the dream

Who: Joel Youngs, director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center, Moline
Quote: "It takes an attitude. It takes passion. It takes good business basics. They have to come together in order to make it."


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  Today is Friday, April 18, the 108th day of 2014. There are 257 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: A new steamer, Keithsburg, now is at our levee taking on board the balance of her fixtures preparatory to assuming her position on the daily Rock Island and Keokuk line.
1889 -- 125 years ago: C.W. Hawes was appointed deputy county clerk by county clerk Donaldson.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Mrs. O.E. child, of Moline, was named president of the Women's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church Rock Island District of the Central Illinois conference.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Augustana College is making plans for a drive for funds to erect a field house and make football field improvements.
1964 -- 50 years ago: A expanded election coverage system featuring a 16-foot chalkboard showing up to the minute running totals, attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd to The Argus newsroom last night.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Balloons frame Rock Island attorney Stewart Winstein who was given a surprise party in the rotunda of the Rock Island County Courthouse on Thursday to honor his 50th year of practicing law.




(More History)