St. Louis Bi-State Region
Key to this process is hiring and training the best person for the job.“It’s been a passion of mine — making sure companies hire the right people for positions and do proper training. It’s a passion I hoped to bring to SCORE,” Brian says. Brian has done just that, applying his knowledge of lean management and processes to help green entrepreneurs focus and streamline their business ideas.As Brian says,“People have ideas, but in some cases, they’re not terribly specific or clear about what those are.They don’t know who their customers are.” This is where Brian’s skill set is especially helpful.“People will say,‘This product is for everyone.’ I remind them,‘Not everyone wants or needs it.’” Brian recalls one mentee who hoped to start a pet grooming service but hadn’t honed in on her target audience.To get her thinking about her clientele, Brian asked what she’d do if someone came in with a pet snake.“It got her to narrow down what kinds of pets the business would cater to, and it got her focused on dogs,” he describes.“Then, I asked if there were certain dogs they would cater to, and that got her to focus her services on specific breeds, which led her to who her specific customers are. Social media is segregated by different breeds, so the more you know about the type of dog your business caters to, the more you can zero in on that client.”
For another mentee, Brian got him focused on the type of logistics work his company would do.“There are all sorts of niches in logistics.You can’t just open a warehouse and expect people to come to you.You have to have a clear idea of what type of logistics work you’ll do and what type of customer you want,” Brian advised. In addition to helping people focus and realize their business ideas, Brian also brought the business model canvas — a simplified, more functional version of a traditional business plan that’s favored by SiliconValley startups — to SCORE St. Louis.“It focuses on developing the product and putting it in people’s hands for a constant feedback loop,” Brian shares.“It still has a lot of the same discipline as a formal business plan, but it’s more functional and action-based.” The business model canvas has been a boon to mentees,who often get stuck going through the 30-plus pages of a traditional business plan and to other mentors who sometimes feel limited by the traditional approach. Brian sums up the advice he gives mentees: “Start small.With the business model canvas, you put a product out, get feedback, and change it as needed. It’s a constant innovation-change loop until people love your product.”
W e’ve been fortunate to have Brian Dreckshage as a mentor with SCORE St. Louis for the last five years. In this time, he’s brought his business insight and a refreshingly slimmed down approach to business planning to his enterprising mentees. The lean approach is just what Brian spent his career honing. He worked as a consultant, providing companies with his expertise on streamlining operations and supply chain management.“If you don’t have a good handle on how you control inventory and distribution, you’re missing out on a lot of cost-saving opportunities,” Brian describes.“If you don’t do inventory management and purchasing well, you’re leaving money on the table.”
That’s just what our entrepreneurs are aiming for.
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