Renew Rural Iowa offers assistance to entrepreneurs

Renew Rural Iowa offered local entrepreneurs Tuesday a “Recipe for Business Success.”

The seminar hosted by the Iowa Farm Bureau and Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance offered area business owners the chance to improve their business with better strategies.

Speaker Curt Nelson, author of “The Recipe For Business Success” program, explained how this can be achieved simply.

“One of the hardest things to do for anybody with a business is to take the time out of work to work on your business,” Nelson said. “All the strategic things you start to think about don’t ever happen because you get too involved with working in your business you don’t take time to work on it.”

Nelson, of Des Moines, is a venture capitalist, starting and funding companies. He has started 16 businesses with partners and seven on his own, he said, works with more than 40 companies at any given time, and manages investment funds.

“I’ve done all kinds of things entrepreneurial in my life,” he said. “And part of that was just because I get bored really easily, and if I don’t get thrown out I walk out of whatever I’m doing. This, I’ve been doing now for 10 years, is the longest I’ve ever done anything in my career.”

During the seven hour seminar, Nelson provided guests with case studies, strategies for developing business plans, and tips for “building a balanced team” and “providing great leadership.” The information is applicable to all business types, he said.

“The basic recipe to run a successful business is the same for a one-person consultant as it is for a large manufacturing facility,” he said. “I’ve given this content to Rockwell Collins, the entire government systems division, and I’ve given it to people doing sewing out of their house. From end to end, it’s very applicable.”

According to Nelson, having a recipe is the key to business success.

“The analogy goes like this, in the culinary world. Great results comes from a great recipe,” he said. “Ingredients and execution, both pieces are absolutely critical.”

The quality of the ingredients “has to be matched to the outcome you want,” Nelson said, and when it comes to the execution “you have to know what to do.”

“You can be somebody that’s in the kitchen for the first time, with all your ingredients on the counter, but if you don’t know what to do with them or how to execute with them, you can mess it up completely,” he said. “You’ve got to have the right talent, right guidance and right resources in order to be able to execute in the kitchen.”

He added, “Quality of the ability to execute has everything to do with the quality of the outcome.”

Creating a good recipe and staying with it is just as important with a business as it is in the kitchen, Nelson said.

“The further off recipe you get, the worse the result. All the way to the point where you can’t eat it,” he said. “A successful recipe is the result of balancing all the ingredients with quality execution.”

Marketing is important. Being an engineer is not the same as being a salesperson, Nelson said. This affects balance.

“Just because you know how to design a car and build a car doesn’t qualify you to drive one,” he said. “Just because you started a business and just because you developed a product doesn’t qualify you to make money with it.”

The key to success is not a mystery. According to Nelson, “If your business is really hard to run, it’s probably your fault.”

“It’s been this way since the beginning of time,” he said. “This seminar, my books, all the things that I’ve done, there are few things that are unique to me in here. Most of it is all knowledge that’s been out there, put together in a way for you to see it as a recipe. It’s not rocket science.”