Rich With Resources
One of only three business librarians in the state (the others are in Southfield and Grand Rapids), Kudwa works in cooperation with area organizations like the Small Business and Technology Development Center at Lansing Community College’s Business & Community Institute (BCI), the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) and the Lansing Community Micro-Enterprise Fund (LCMF) to bring a wealth of resources, expertise and support to small businesses.
The Small Business and Technology Development Center at LCC promotes economic development by working with new small businesses to succeed and by working to retain and expand existing small businesses. They provide technical assistance, education and training to business owners and managers in the six-county area (Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Ionia, Livingston and Shiawassee). The SBAM is a statewide association focusing on the needs of Michigan’s small business community. Promoting entrepreneurship and politically advocating for the needs and interests of small business, the SBAM, headquartered in Lansing, has been serving small business since 1967. The LCMF has been providing business plan and financial literacy trainings, a loan program and networking opportunities to the small business community since 1995.
According to Kudwa, “People who are interested in starting their own small business have a lot of questions. We are able to help them find the answers. From researching the market to writing a business plan, finding funding, understanding the basics of marketing and writing a marketing plan, we can guide the small business person as he/she makes decisions and moves forward. Besides a huge catalog of business publications we can access, the library also subscribes to a number of commercial databases that give us inside information that can be extremely valuable.”
These commercial databases include:
- Business and Community Resource Center: company profiles, brand information, ranking, investment reports and articles
- BusinessDecision: reports and maps of business, demographic and consumer household data which help businesspeople understand the market, find new customers, evaluate new competitors, target media and undertake a direct mail campaign
- General Business File ASAP: articles and companies, directory and financial information
- ReferenceUSA: directory information for individuals and businesses
- ValueLine: investment information and analysis of stocks and mutual funds
“For those who have already established their businesses,” added Kudwa, “we can help refine and improve their business plans by working with them to profile their customers and their competitors, explore their options and opportunities and build on what they are already doing.”
Kudwa, in cooperation with LCC’s Small Business and Technology Development Center, teaches market research classes at the library, bringing library resources as well as her own education and experience in marketing and consulting to those contemplating or engaged in small business endeavors. Denise Peek, director of the LCMF, brings participants in her business plan training courses to the library for an overview of the services available through the business librarian. Followup sessions give students the opportunity to work with Kudwa on an individual basis in pursuing their own particular interests and concerns.
Recently, the library, in cooperation with the Ingham County Economic Development Corporation, has established an Entrepreneurs Club. According to Kudwa, “Too often small business owners have no peers or coworkers with whom to discuss issues of interest. By setting up this group, we hope to provide the opportunity for members of the small business community to meet for group discussion, education and networking.”
The Ingham County Economic Development Corporation provides services to businesses and communities, including linkages to other federal, state and regional agencies that offer related services.
Kudwa is currently working with a woman hoping to set up her own business as a personal chef, working in people’s homes to prepare meals for their families; someone interested in opening an alteration shop; and a man who is making plans for a drivers’ training school. Each can work on his or her own with the resources the library offers and can also consult with Kudwa on particular issues. Said Kudwa, “I can help them find all the information and statistics they need and then work with them to make sense of it all and see how it can help them be successful.”
Sylvia Alexander, Robert Cavin Jr., and Germaine Redding have worked with Kudwa to set up their company, Test of Time Enterprises, manufacturing and selling educational games. Availing themselves of the resources available to them through the library as well as their own considerable energy and enthusiasm, they have established an innovative and successful company. In the competitive toys and games industry, they are making a name for themselves.
Kudwa sees a thriving entrepreneurial spirit in the area. “We’re seeing very healthy growth in the establishment of new small businesses and the continued success of those already established. Even with sometimes discouraging economic news, small business can flourish and is flourishing here in the Lansing area. The Capital Area District Library is pleased to be able to support that spirit.”
Capital Area District Library
401 S. Capitol Ave
Elizabeth Kudwa, Business Librarian