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A LINK to success for Liberty Businesses

by Suzanne Licata

When I was running a small retail business, I would have loved to have a resource like this,” said Chris Todd, commercial property manager for Curry Real Estate Services, referring to Liberty Economic Development Corporation’s LINK Business Facilitation. “That kind of free, confidential, one-on-one counsel that can help you get through a business pain point is a difference maker.”

Todd is one of more than a dozen members of the organization’s Resource Team. Each represents sectors key to business success including finance, law, real estate, insurance and marketing and volunteers their time to Liberty area business owners who need expert help.

Todd said nearly 30 years ago he decided to open a bookstore in downtown Liberty. He had the advantage of his parents having been in the business and yet there were areas in which, he said, he was clueless. “For many emerging businesses, it is the same today,” Todd added. “There are so many things people have not thought about – how important a good business plan is, understanding what your business will cost to operate and how you make money. I appreciate that it is a lot of work to evolve a business idea into a viable business.”

Launched in November 2020, this initiative serves Liberty area businesses in every phase of business, not just start-ups or those weathering a tough season. “LINK’s goal is to help all Liberty businesses survive and thrive and do more business with each other,” said Jolinda McClintock, the program’s facilitator. “If your business is doing well but looking to grow, LINK can brainstorm with you to identify a market gap you can fill. If you are struggling in an area outside your expertise, we can help you find a local contact to help you out.”

Shawn Garland was at a Historic Downtown Liberty meeting when she heard about LINK. The owner of The Artisan Market, 118 N. Main Street, Garland invited McClintock to hold one of her monthly Resource Team meetings at her gallery and she was able to do a brief presentation on her business to the group.

“We had a brainstorm session and it is a very creative thinking team,” she said. “They had some really good feedback on a program I was considering. And then Jolinda continually reaches out to me with contacts and information about things going on. It’s been a lot of good networking that has linked me not only to their resources but to other Liberty small businesses as well.”

McClintock said LINK has worked with many kinds of business. “We had the idea that there would be more retail shops seeking us out but the businesses we are working with are really diverse,” she said. “Running any kind of business can be a little isolating and owners don’t always have someone they can strategize with on their issues.”

With the LINK program, McClintock meets with the business owner in a guided conversation to learn about the business, its pain points and areas for which assistance is needed. She then reviews the business and its issues in confidence at monthly meetings with the Resource Team who brainstorm to begin the problem solving work.

“It’s important for people to understand that my job as facilitator is to guide a process that helps the business answer a question, solve a problem, get something done – removing any roadblocks to their success,” she added. “LINK brings a fresh perspective to a business, years of expertise represented in each of the Resource Team members and a lot of relationships that can make valuable connections the business would not otherwise have.”

Rachelle Lemon, owner of her telehealth TrUbalance Nutrition, heard about LINK at her Rotary Club meeting. “The process with Jolinda is different than anything I have ever been a part of,” she said. “It is a very businesslike, thoughtful review of your business and business plan with someone who cares about your success but doesn’t, like another entrepreneur might, bring their own business baggage to the conversation.”

Lemon said the work with LINK led her to develop a more coherent plan for her business. “It allowed me to have a map of my business,” she added. “Before, I knew where I wanted to go but didn’t have a plan to get there. Now I have mapped it out and it feels great to have done that work.”

To learn more about Liberty EDC’s LINK Business Facilitation services, go to http://thinklibertymo.com/link-business-facilitation/ or contact Jolinda McClintock directly at 816.883.2503 or .

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