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Navigating the DSM Startup Ecosystem: Resources + Support for Entrepreneurs

Startup Resources

March 19, 2024

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has become a great environment for new businesses. Entrepreneurs are discovering that the community has a lot to offer. This isn’t just in terms of practical amenities. There’s also a government and private business infrastructure that encourages new enterprises and bolsters business growth.

While this startup ecosystem is thriving, the resources available might not always be immediately obvious when you’re just getting started. You may not even need assistance in all areas of your business but could use some local support in specific aspects that present hurdles. So, let’s take a moment to explore some of the types of resources and support available to entrepreneurs in DSM.

Keeping Financially Healthy

Your startup’s financial well-being will ensure both a solid launch and a sustainable future. This is often an aspect that new entrepreneurs find a little daunting. Either from the perspective that they aren’t confident in bookkeeping or that they struggle to fund the enterprise in the first place. It’s well worth seeking out resources that can help you maintain your organizational financial wellness.

Sources of Capital

Gaining reliable sources of capital helps you to get the tools you need to thrive and takes some of the financial strain until your income starts rolling in. There are various ways to approach this. You can, of course, apply for business loans.

However, if you’re new to entrepreneurism, mentorship opportunities — like that provided by Plains Angels — can help you not just identify and connect with sources of funding, but also put together effective pitch presentations. If you’re confident in going it alone, you can also contact the Des Moines branch of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to identify any local grant and loan schemes that are relevant to your business.

Keeping Accurate Records

Regular and accurate financial records are essential for businesses. This should include income statements that show profit and loss, running asset and liability balance sheets and cash flow statements. These items, when kept accurately, help you make tax liability predictions, which enables you to hold back enough income throughout the year. Accuracy also improves financial transparency, which provides clarity to your stakeholders and can reassure potential investors. If you’re uncertain, there are local accounting and tax firms that can help.

However, you’re likely to find it more empowering to learn how to maintain good records yourself. The Iowa branch of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers courses on various aspects of financial records, including bookkeeping and accountant software training.

Preparing for the Unexpected

Being an entrepreneur is not always a predictable experience. Your startup may well face challenges at unexpected times and from causes that come out of left field. This may be due to natural disasters, supply chain issues and even internal errors.

One of your most important steps is to minimize the potential disruption this causes by creating a solid business continuity plan. Particularly if you’re a primarily online or remote company, this should involve identifying methods and setting protocols to restore your connections in the event of outages or cybercrime. It’s also vital to arrange methods to keep your customers informed throughout disruptions, providing them with reassurance and updates on your expected return to full operations.

There are various steps involved with creating a business continuity plan. It begins with assessing the most likely risks for your industry, the type of startup you have and hazards that are prevalent in DSM. From here, you'll work with your staff to establish methods to overcome the issues that arise in the event of each type of risk.

In DSM, you can access continuity support and resources for this from Safeguard Iowa Partnership. The organization provides advice and training for both business continuity planning and employee preparedness for the unexpected. It also maintains a list of external agencies — like the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the government’s Business Ready program — that are good sources of disaster preparedness information.

Building a Solid Network

Building a startup from scratch can be enriching, but it can also feel quite isolated at the same time. As the head of your company, you might get the sense that most of the pressure to succeed is on you or that you have the responsibility to find all the required resources and leads. It’s important to recognize that you don’t have to be entirely alone in your endeavors.

Building a solid support network is a powerful tool in influencing your business’s growth and your personal well-being. You can gain access to peer learning opportunities, introductions to potential leads and partnerships and moral support on what can be a difficult journey.

There are various resources for networking in DSM, including:

  • Scale DSM: The Scale DSM Business Accelerator program is a tuition-free learning opportunity that also comes with chances to network. You’ll interact with business owners from a diverse range of backgrounds alongside program facilitators with entrepreneurial experience. Cohort participants are selected every May, and the program runs from June through December.
  • Affiliate Chambers: Membership with one of DSM's regional Chambers of Commerce includes a dual-Membership model that gives local businesses Greater Des Moines Partnership benefits on top of their Chamber benefits, including access to regular networking events, specialized industry research and other tools to help businesses grow and thrive. 

No matter which networking organizations and events you utilize, it’s important to be authentic. Rather than making transactional connections, consider the value of mutually supportive relationships. This involves taking an interest in the challenges of your peers and offering your assistance, alongside seeking out those who take a similar approach. You’ll find this creates stronger networks that are good for everyone involved.

There’s certainly no shortage of business resources for startups in DSM, and these are developing all the time. Getting involved in programs and taking advantage of learning opportunities can only make you a more confident entrepreneur and your business stronger. It’s also worth looking at where there are resource gaps that you feel would be useful.

You could collaborate with peers in the business community and existing organizations to develop these. This ensures that not only you benefit from better resources, but also that generations of future startup owners get the tools they need, too.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership celebrates the Greater Des Moines (DSM) entrepreneur community and helps small businesses succeed with one-of-a-kind resources and opportunities for networking. Find out how other entrepreneurs have found success by reading their stories and attending local small business events in the region.

Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about people, tech, wellness and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.