Define Success

Categories // Business Plans, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Small Business Owners

Search the web for the literal definition of success and you will find a familiar definition: “achievement of intention: the achievement of something planned or attempted.” Determining your own success is a huge first step, which may even require some soul searching. Don't be afraid to rely on insight from those who have been there. This is an elegant aspect of success, the opportunity to define what it personally means o you. Think about a specific project, strategy or business you are working on. What are you and your teams intentions? How have you defined success?


What is Marketing?

Categories // Business Plans, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Small Business Owners

“The purpose of business is innovation and marketing,” said Peter Druker, corporate guru and wildly successful executive. Drucker wrote several best-selling business books and is famous for a lot of quotes. He is one of the best and displays the essence of business. Recognizing an opportunity and acting upon it with innovation is key but being able to raise awareness and purchase of the innovation is critical. And that, is marketing.

Marketing Made Lean incorporates the best practices from decades of professionals working with start-up entrepreneurs and established small business owners to develop effective marketing strategies and tactics. Lean in business, means most simply, to operate the business as efficiently as possible. When applied to marketing a micro or small business the concept of lean makes a lot of sense and there are some great tools used in lean processes that are easily applied and effective in micro and small businesses.

What are some key things you need to be an effective marketer? Are you selling as much of your product/service as you can? Do you need to develop and effective marketing plan?

Discover more about Marketing Made Lean and apply for grant opportunities today at www.fvtc.edu/MarketingMadeLean


FVTC E-Seed entrepreneurship program gains national attention

Categories // Business Plans, Entrepreneurship, News & Announcements, Success Stories

Fox Valley Technical College’s Venture Center has taken a bit of its own advice when it comes to helping entrepreneurs get started.

The Venture Center’s E-Seed course has helped entrepreneurs like Josh Beck get the business training and support they needed to turn their ideas into viable, growing enterprises.

Beck, who founded his 3-D printing business Beck Prototypes in May, said E-Seed’s 12-week entrepreneurship course has already helped him plan for slow, measured growth and careful planning as he gets started.

“I’m starting nice and slow, I’m getting some customers now and I’m going through the motions. Now, it’s about time to start some marketing and start trying to generate more revenue,” Beck said. “I wouldn’t have done this without E-Seed. E-Seed gives you the tools and shows you the door, but you have to learn from what they show you and walk through those doors when the opportunity arises.”

In the 13-plus years since it was founded, the Venture Center’s entrepreneur-education programs like E-Seed and, its bigger sister, the Pro-Seed business-model development program for established businesses, have helped entrepreneurs start 320 businesses that presently employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people throughout Northeast Wisconsin.

The success of courses like E-Seed and Pro-Seed have also earned the Venture Center one of seven $20,000 grants from Sam’s Club and the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship to help small, Main Street businesses reach the next level of sales.

Now, E-Seed itself has become the brand with an opportunity to grow and the Venture Center is the entrepreneur.

Amy Pietsch, the center’s director, said it has started to license the E-Seed curriculum and program to other community colleges, technical colleges and economic development agencies around the country as a way to foster more entrepreneurship and generate revenue for the center, which does not receive taxpayer dollars from FVTC.

Organizations can buy a license to offer the 12-week course to local business owners and entrepreneurs, but Pietsch said those groups are encouraged to share anuy improvements and innovations they make so as to improve the product.

“The one thing we knew about the entrepreneurship environment was we would be the little player in a big space. We had to be open to a lot of people coming back to us with ideas to make it better,” Pietsch said. “We do apply what we learn and teach here. We’re not making it up.”

The early response has been good. To date, FVTC spokesman Chris Jossart said, three community colleges in the Midwest and one entrepreneurial hub have already bought licenses to use E-Seed.

“It’s developed into such a proven product that’s simple yet personal,” Jossart said. “It’s always fresh, it’s always real and it makes very complex issues very simple.”

In addition, FVTC has reduced the cost of E-Seed by almost 50 percent, to $750, to make it more affordable for entrepreneurs to enroll.

Tina Schuelke said E-Seed has remained a key component in her small-business support network since she founded Change Management Communications Center last year. The training she got through E-Seed and the support of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Small Business Development Center recently helped her win a $5,000 prize in the Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Competition.

“Once I got started with E-Seed, I realized all my attempts at business plans — and I thought I had a good one going into it — were weak. This gave me a really strong start,” Schuelke said. “This is my first business launch. Now that I have those courses as a foundation, I’m already thinking about other businesses I want to start or become a part of.”


The Best Tools for Entrepreneurs

Categories // Entrepreneurship, Small Business Owners

As an entrepreneur, you’re always looking for tools that will make you more efficient, and more effective. You know, the saying, “work smarter, not harder.” Whether it be a digital tool, or a non-digital tool, entrepreneurs seem to be the early adopters for many of the tools that become essential to our daily toolbox. 

Here is a breakdown of some the best tools for entrepreneurs, compiled by entrepreneurs.

1. Evernote. Where would entrepreneurs store all their crazy ideas, notes, and thoughts if they didn’t have Evernote? Evernote is the 21st century digital brain. Evernote allows you to create notes for whatever pops into your mind. You can use their digital products, or their non-digital products. My personal favorite is pairing both their digital product line, with their traditional Moleskine notebook. It’s the best way to keep all my thoughts in one place. 

2. IdeaPaint. If you love whiteboards, then you will love IdeaPaint. IdeaPaint allows you to transform a wall, a table top, a window into your own personal brainstorming space. IdeaPaint can be easily painted onto most walls, and will allow you to sketch out your thoughts, ideas, diagrams, or graphs. 

3. Expensify. Expensify is the best way to keep all your receipts together, and boy is it simple. You can use Expensify for business, or for personal use. It’s a free tool, which can be used on your mobile device, your tablet, or your laptop computer. 

4. Posted notes. You can never go wrong with the use of posted notes to compile your thoughts, your to-do list, or anything else that needs to be written down for your day. Posted notes are still a favorite amongst entrepreneurs. 

5. Buffer app. Entrepreneurs are busy people, and social media is now more important than ever. But to find time to establish a strong tribe of loyal followers on many different social networks takes time, energy, and great content. Let Buffer help you out. Buffer app allows you to schedule and post specific updates, at specific times. Need to post something to Facebook at 12:00am, but you are already sleeping, no problem. Buffer app allows you to schedule updates, tweets, posts, pictures, articles, whenever you would like. It’s a free software, but they do offer a paid version as well. 

6. Wunderlist. If you want a great task management application. This is the one. Wunderlist is simple, easy to use, and packs a lot of great features into a free platform. I use Wunderlist to track my to-do list, reminders, and anything else I need to get done each day. 

7. Basecamp. If you work with a team, and need to be in the know with everything that’s going on, basecamp is the best collaborative tool on the internet. Basecamp helps you manage specific projects and breaks down each task, or to-do in a very simple, easy to understand way. Pricing starts at $20.00 a month, but you can receive a free 60-day trial. 

8. Headphones. Chances are that you spend a few hours each week working in a coffee shop, a library, or in a co-working space, all of which are somewhat nosey. One of the best investments you can make as an entrepreneur is to get a pair of noise-canceling headphones. I recommend Bose, but there are many other great headphones that cancel out the noise of the world. 

9. Chair. Most working professionals spend 5-6 hours a day with their butt’s in a chair. Many of which are uncomfortable, don’t fit to their body, and are plain bad for their health. Do yourself a favor, and spend a little money investing in a comfortable chair. I recently switched chairs from a cheap IKEA chair (nothing against IKEA), to a very comfortable executive leather chair. 

10. Rescue Time. Do you know where you’re spending your time on your computer? Rescue Time is an app that helps display where your time is going, whether it be productive, or non-productive, Rescue Time tracks it all and sends you a weekly report, detailing where you spent your time, as well as your productivity percentage for the week. It’s a great way to track how you’re spending your time, what you’re doing online, and ways to get more productive. 

I hope you enjoyed this list of tools that can help you become more efficient, and effective. If you have a tool that you love, but didn’t see it on this list, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. us.  


Make 2014 Your Best Year Yet

Categories // Entrepreneurship, Small Business Owners

2014 is here. And January is almost complete. Like every New Year, New Year’s resolutions seem to be the topic of discussion, on social media, on the news, and throughout every magazine. Many American’s (45%) make New Year’s resolutions. But few Americans are able to commit to their resolutions past January. 

A study completed by the University of Scranton displayed the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2014. The list includes, spending more time with family (10), help others in their dreams (8), staying fit and healthy (5), and spending less, and saving more (3). 

Just like every year, New Year’s resolutions are easier said than done. By now, the last week of January, only 64% of Americans that set a New Year’s resolution are still sticking to it. And after six months, only 46% of Americans are still sticking to their 2014 New Year’s resolutions. 

At the Venture Center we want you to have your best year ever! We want 2014 to be your break-out year, the year that you finally launch your business, or the year that you hire your first team member, whatever it is, we hope we can be a part of your success in 2014! 

Here are a few ways to help you keep your 2014 New Year’s resolutions. 

1.Make changes to your behavior. You have to change your habits, if you’re going to see a different outcome. 

2.Track your 2014 resolutions and goals. Use one of the hundreds of apps that help you track your resolutions. Use a notebook, or spreadsheet to track your resolutions.

3.Celebrate small wins. If you lose some weight, celebrate it. If you take another step forward towards launching your business, celebrate it! Celebrating small achievements, and small progress will help you stay motivated to achieve the overall goal(s). 

4.Make it public. Let your significant other know your resolutions for 2014. If you have a blog, post your resolutions on your blog. Post them on Facebook for all your friends to see. The more people that know about your plans, or resolutions, the more they will be able to help see you through completion of each goal(s). 

5.Find an accountability partner. Similar to making your resolutions public, find someone to hold you accountable. It could be your best friend, boss, or mentor. This person will keep you accountable as you continue to move forward on your goals and resolutions. 

We hope you can make 2014 your best year ever! 



New program will "Fast Forward" success for local entrepreneurs

December 5, 2013

Friday hundreds of business and community leaders will gather in Green Bay for the annual New North SummitIt will feature a new entrepreneur training called "Fast Forward 2.0".

"I am in nine states, and in many children's specialty stores as well as larger franchises" explains Kristin Ellsworth. Her company Peeps Eyewear is one of the first businesses to graduate from the Fast Forward program. The idea came thanks to her preschooler. "She did not want to wear her glasses, because she thought that princesses do not wear them" Ellsworth explains.

Each Peeps Eyewear kit comes with glasses, a storybook, cape and crown. "I think that is what keeps me going, knowing that my goal of helping kids feel empowered wearing glasses is a reality" she says. Kristin was paired with a community mentor in the Fox Cities to help fine tune her business plan.

"The vision of that was to help entrepreneurs in the growth stages" explains Mark Burwell National Director, for the Urban Hope E-Hub program. Now Fast Forward 2.0 is looking for more entrepreneurs to train.

"We are just opening up our 4th location" says Tom Mittelsteadt CEO/ Co-Founder of iSupply. The Green Bay based business was nominated to participate. "We do on site repairs for iPhone, iPad and iPods" Mittelsteadt explains. "We offer same day service generally within an hour or so". Starting as a mall kiosk, iSupply now has four locations. They are looking to go nationwide. "Our goal in expanding is to maintain our level of service that we offer now" he says. Tom believes community mentors in the Fast Forward program will put his company on the fast track to success. "The networking alone is just great. Everybody is there wanting to help out" he says.

Friday's summit will focus on the 18 counties in the New North region. Governor Scott Walker is expected to attend.

Click here to see the article


The importance of entrepreneurship education

Majoring in entrepreneurship? Why would you pursue a degree in entrepreneurship?

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not entrepreneurship education benefits every consumer in the world. The explosion of entrepreneurship education within colleges and universities is one indicator of a rapid movement across the world to now begin educating students to apply entrepreneurial thought and action. According to Babson College, in 2012 there was over 2,600 universities and colleges that offered a degree, minor or emphasis in entrepreneurship (Brush).

Where entrepreneurship education benefits individuals is not in just launching a business, it’s the application of the entrepreneurial mindset that allows individuals to excel in whatever avenue they choose to pursue. According to the Office of Disability Employment Policy, entrepreneurial education improves academic performance, increases problem solving and decision making skills. Entrepreneurship education improves interpersonal relationships, teamwork skills, money management and public speaking skills. It also increases job readiness and job preparedness (“Encouraging Future Innovation: Youth Entrepreneurship Education”). 

As you can see, a greater focus on the entrepreneurial mindset benefits everyone involved. And there’s no greater time to launch a business then now! Young people want to become entrepreneurs; according to Junior Achievement, 68% of young people want to become an entrepreneur someday (“Youth Entrepreneurship”). Currently, 80% of all small business owners within the United States are between the ages of 18-34.

What better way to foster the entrepreneurial mindset and a true interest in entrepreneurship then to allow students an educational experience that is entrepreneurial in nature. An education that is a learning by doing approach. Allowing students to start small businesses, to sell products to their classmates and to perform sales pitches to the class.

It’s not necessarily about launching a business per say, it’s about teaching individuals how to apply an entrepreneurial mindset to their everyday life, and everyday actions.

Guest Blogger: Marc Busko


Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour makes a stop in Southern California

Categories // Events, Youth Entrepreneurship

Inspired! That is the one word that kept creeping into my head during my first Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour event in Southern California on June 17th, 2013. I could have never imagined that I would be joining an organization and event that I had been following for four years and wanted more than anything to get involved with. 

Just four short years earlier I was handed a book titled, The Student Success Manifesto written by Michael Simmons. I of course wanted to be a successful student so I read the book in two weeks and took notes in three different notebooks because the content was so relevant to my personal story. 

Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug when I was 17 I knew entrepreneurship and being my own small business owner was the path I needed to pursue. I knew I could be a successful entrepreneur; I had all the characteristics of an entrepreneur, hardworking, challenged the status quo, natural leadership abilities and a belief in myself that I could do anything. 

Now, flash-forward four years, I still possess all those characteristics and a few added skills along the way. I started with a teen-friendly protein bar, the Busko Bar and now I am a youth inspirational speaker, speaking to youth audiences about the importance of discovering and pursuing their goals, dreams and passions. 

As Steve Job’s mentioned in his famous Stanford commencement speech "...you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

I guess that’s what I did this past week when I had the opportunity to join the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour. I started with Michael Simmons book, I followed the tour as it journeyed across the U.S. and now I am a part of it. Only because I trusted in my desire to become a young entrepreneur.

The tour made a stop at California State-Dominguez Hills with hundreds of young adults that had gathered from programs hosted by Goodwill Southern California in various communities across the Southern part of California.

As the students filed into the ballroom, I could tell they were excited to learn, and to learn about something new and interesting. Their eyes lit up when Duane Spires the event moderator started talking about his personal story, how he discovered entrepreneurship, and then talked about what entrepreneurship is.

The students welcomed each speaker and many approached the speakers after their presentation was finished.

Steven Washington, an event speaker talked about his challenging upbringing and how he escaped from a rough neighborhood to now as a successful “middle man” in the real estate industry.

Max Durovic, the creator of the sport sign spinning had the young adults on the edge of their seats as himself and his business partner performed sign spinning tricks during their presentation. Max also was hiring on the day of the event, and many young adults approached Max and his team afterwards, looking for a job as a sign spinner.

The young adults were very inspired to adopt the entrepreneurial mindset and to look for ways to start their own businesses at the ripe ages 14, 15 and 17. I was inspired, immediately inspired. Many of the young adults I talked to had more drive, and more determination then I have ever witnessed. They wanted and most importantly had the resources necessary to start their own businesses. They had access to printing, computers, mentors and a common meeting space.

As we wrapped up the event and the students exited the ballroom and back home to their different communities in Los Angeles, I knew that many of the students that were in the audience were going to go home and write down their goals and post them on their mirrors. I knew they were going to begin testing out different business ideas. I had a gut feeling that I would soon be seeing these young adults on magazines, on interviews, and on podcasts.

The appreciation, gratitude and heartfelt joy I received from those young adults was a feeling that no one can take away from me. It was an incredible day. I cannot wait to be a part of the tour again.

Guest Blogger: Marc Busko

Joining The Venture Center Team

Categories // Entrepreneurship, Youth Entrepreneurship, Success Stories

I am very excited to announce that I have joined the Venture Center team as the Young Entrepreneur in Residence within the Venture Center

I have worked with and for the Venture Center on and off for the past four years. It all started when I attended an Exploring Starting a Business session where I heard Amy Pietsch speak about entrepreneurship and how to go about starting a business. 

I was hooked, my mom and I had been working on putting together a teen-friendly protein bar and I knew I had to ask Amy’s opinion on what our next steps would need to be. Amy loved the idea, but she saw something within me that I didn’t see. She saw an entrepreneurial spirit that had just started to burn, it wasn’t white hot yet, but she saw that I had the ability to become a successful entrepreneur. 

So after ditching the protein bar idea because of the initial startup costs, I was back to square one and didn’t know where to begin. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur for the rest of my life, but I didn’t know what. I didn’t have an invention, I wasn’t much of a technology guru to write code or design apps, I simply didn’t know what to do. 

But then I discovered a love for communication and speaking in front of my classes in high school. I started focusing on my presentation skills, I learned more and more about effective communication and found real joy in getting up in front of 30-40 classmates and presenting my findings. 

And so I guess you could say the rest is history. I launched my company, Marc Busko Speaking LLC. after I completed the Venture Center’s e-seed series. I have spoken to over 5,500 students since 2011 and am having more fun than I could have ever imagined. I want to speak to and impact youth for the rest of my life. 

This summer I will be the Young Entrepreneur in Residence at the Venture Center, helping out Amy and Jill whenever needed. I will also be guest blogging once a week. 

If you would like to connect, chat, grab coffee, please feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I have included the link to my website and my LinkedIn profile. I look forward to hearing from you!

Guest Blogger: Marc Busko



Menu on the roll

Categories // Business Plans, Entrepreneurship, Small Business Owners, News & Announcements

Kangaroostaurant Cookery serves up meals from kitchen on wheels

The Business News
June 17, 2014

For Jay and Kelly Barnes, their restaurant is more than a business. It’s a commitment to community.

The Kaukauna couple own and operate Kangaroostaurant Cookery on Wheels and Kangaroost, a restaurant at 313 Dodge St., Kaukauna. They look for the best ingredients for their ever-changing menu, buy from local growers and businesses and believe in paying their employees a little more than the going rate. “Our profit may be a little less,” Jay said, but they feel it is worth it.

They also believe in giving young people a chance. Many of their cooks come from Fox Valley Technical College’s culinary program.

Both Jay and Kelly left corporate jobs to move into this new line of work. “Neither of us were really happy in our jobs,” Jay said. “Kelly wanted to do a restaurant and one day she googled ‘low-cost restaurant.’ Food trucks came up.”

They did their research and went through the E-Seed program at Fox Valley Technical College, a program that helps people start their own businesses. At the end of the program, they had a business plan.

Using their savings, they funded a truck, which became Kangaroostaurant, and travel around the Fox Valley, serving lunches and sometimes dinner at various spots. They began in July 2011.

“We ran the truck through the winter,” Jay said. “We only closed two days during the winter because it was a mild winter.” This past winter was more of a challenge. “One Sunday night, we had a discussion about knocking off the truck and getting jobs,” he said.

They continued a catering business through all of this and that’s how they me Dave Klister, who owns the building that houses their restaurant. He was closing his Plum Hill Restaurant in Kaukauna. This enabled the Barnes to open Kangaroost on Feb. 19, 2013. They made some adjustments to the kitchen, hired more people and hung some picture before opening.

Both eateries are committed to serving freshly prepared items from burger and sandwiches to pastas. Their menus change frequently to make the best use of local resources. They buy locally-grown or produced ingredients. Most of them come from within 40 miles of Kaukauna, Jay said.

There are gluten-free and vegetarian options, as well. They even make their own veggie burgers. The gluten-free products come from Rustic Kitchens. The Barnes work with Great Harvest for their breads, and they partner with Riverview Gardens for greens and other garden products. (Riverview Gardens is a non-profit venture in Appleton, dedicated to fighting the root causes of poverty, homelessness and unemployment.)

Other suppliers include Olden Produce CSA, Good Grief Market Gardens, Sun Brothers Naturals, Trust Local Foods, Venneford Farm Country Meats, Golden Bear Farms, Red Barn Family Farms.

Their menu won a Golden Fork award for the best hamburger last year.

Naming the restaurant was an adventure in itself, according to the story on their Website (kangaroostaurant.com).  They wanted something unique and memorable. “An important aspect of food trucking is social media,” they wrote, and social media marketing. As we threw around different possibilities, we kept running into copyright and domain name issues.”

After weeks of discussion, Jay “walked past a picture (his daughter Emma) painted in 7th grade art class and aid ‘we should call it the Kangaroostaurant.”

Since nothing came to them, they researched kangaroos on the Internet to see if it would fit their business model. They decide that kangaroos move around a lot and are flexible herbivores. “They will eat most any plant they can find. Much like us, they eat what’s available.”

So, Kangaroostaurant was born. Even though the truck-food business is self-contained and everything is cooked on the truck, they needed a base kitchen. They have a contract with Riverview Gardens until the end of June, when they will transfer it to their own restaurant.

The truck moves daily, so the easiest way to find it is I to follow it on Facebook or Twitter. They also post a weekly schedule on Mondays on the website. The truck is primarily at Fox Valley or Oshkosh sites. They have gone as far as Delavan and Wauwatosa, and their goal is to get up to Green Bay more often. Businesses can invite them to come to their parking lots, or the truck finds a spot in an Appleton park or College Avenue.

“Appleton is our most common spot right now,” Jay said. They have a license to park on College Avenue or Franklin Street. “We follow all the parking rules. We need two parking spots to accommodate the truck. We park at least 50 feet from any restaurant. We don’t want to promote any bad blood.”

Kangaroost, the stationary restaurant, is a CSR (community-share restaurant). Kelly invited people to buy shares in the restaurant as a way to get new capital for their move into the Kaukauna building.

The Barnes have 23 employees in the two businesses. Five are full-time. They also are helped by their children, Emma and Loudon.

The restaurant includes an outside eating area, surrounded by planters with edible flowers and herbs that are used in some of their menu items.

Both Jay and Kelly are excited about their new venture and the possibilities the future may hold.

“My favorite part is the interaction with the customers,” said Jay, who has a background in retail and insurance. His strength is customer service; Kelly handles the menu and food preparations. “I like working with people, he said.

Kelly likes “the chance to be creating new stuff and working with young people, who are always teaching me new things. And, our customers are nice.”



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