In the Know: SourceLink Makes Impact on Tulsa's Small Business Community

By Tuttle, D Ray | THE JOURNAL RECORD, March 7, 2011 | Go to article overview

In the Know: SourceLink Makes Impact on Tulsa's Small Business Community


Tuttle, D Ray, THE JOURNAL RECORD


For Tulsa entrepreneurs, the adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," sums up how many of them have achieved success in their startups.

SourceLink, a network of 75 organizations in Tulsa working together to cultivate and assist the backbone of Tulsa's regional economy, is marking its first anniversary. The program, offered at no cost to entrepreneurs, is based on a model by the Kansas City, Mo.-based Kaufman Foundation.

Building a business is a complicated and ongoing process.

For boot-strapping startups, entrepreneurs tend to feel they need more information and support and the answers to their questions never seem to come from any single resource.

Patrick Cuningkin had a lot of questions and limited funds when he first set out to launch his company, I'm Delivered.

"I did not have a college degree. I needed structure as I struggled with finding ideas of my own," Cuningkin said. "But once I spoke with people at SourceLink, I learned about finding my demographic, who my competitors were - all the different things needed to successfully launch my business."

It was like having a mentor, Cuningkin said.

"They gave me the ability to get from here to here to here," Cuningkin said. "The people I found through SourceLink allowed me to focus."

SourceLink has been like a Yellow Pages for resources, said Kinnee Tilly, vice president of business retention, expansion and small business for the Tulsa Metro Chamber.

"It works," said Rose Washington Rentie, executive director of the Tulsa Economic Development Corp. "You want people to have options, and there are members who meet the needs of the different folks at different levels."

Whether a single entrepreneur is getting started with little business background, a mom-and-pop business is launching, or a savvy, experienced businessman or woman is looking to launch a multimillion-dollar idea, there are organizations in SourceLink to help, Rentie said.

"They work in a partnership, referring people to the people who can meet their specific needs," Rentie said.

Generally, the clients using SourceLink are small, mom-and-pop shops, said Warren Unsicker, small business program manager for the Tulsa Metro Chamber.

"It is the single man or woman, generally the smaller startups. The people who do not have business savvy to start a business on their own," Unsicker said. "We help them through the process. We are that one-stop shop helping them deal with documentation, taxes, licensing, funding and providing a guide to write a business plan."

Once they are entered into the system, they are matched with the best organization suited to their needs, Unsicker said.

"Based in the criteria they provide, we work to fit them with the partner that provides the best opportunity for them," Unsicker said.

SourceLink is the glue that holds all the pieces together, Rentie said.

"There have been times in the past prospective business owners jumped place to place to place, looking for assistance. And sometimes we sent them somewhere," Rentie said. "We'd refer to to 'x- y-z,' thinking it was the best one to help but it did not fit their needs. Now, SourceLink pairs a businessman or woman with an organization. It facilitates that process."

It's been a great success, Tilly said.

The program connects small business owners and startups to the resource partners they need. The network allows the individual organizations to communicate with each other effectively while also connecting with higher education institutions to create an innovative entrepreneurial education program without any duplication. …

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