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Arkansas Inc. Podcast: Growing Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Arkansas

 September 23, 2021

In this episode of the Arkansas Inc. Podcast, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Director of Marketing, Clark Cogbill, sits down with Katherine Andrews, director of AEDC’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Division, and Dr. Jeff Standridge, the managing partner of The Conductor. The guests discuss the newly established Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Division and the state of small business in Arkansas.

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TRANSCRIPT

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Arkansas Inc. Podcast, where we discuss the latest topics and trends in economic development with subject matter experts and influencers from across the nation and around the world.

Clark Cogbill:

Welcome to the Arkansas Inc. Podcast. This is Clark Cogbill, director of marketing for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. We are recording today's podcast as we always do from Lucky Dog Audio, based in downtown Little Rock. And Arkansas's small businesses are the heart of our state's economy. In fact, about half of working Arkansans are employed by a small business. Earlier this year, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission announced that it was creating the small business and entrepreneurship division. One reason behind the creation of the new division was to streamline AEDC services and meet the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs more efficiently. Katherine Andrews was named director of the division. Katherine previously served as project manager with AEDC's business development division for the past five years, and she is the first to lead the newly established division.

As director, she is responsible for guiding AEDC's efforts to assist, champion, and promote small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as identifying and implementing best practices to increase entrepreneurial activity in Arkansas. She has hit the ground running in this new role, but she's taking time to join us today. Katherine, welcome to the Arkansas Inc. Podcast.

Katherine Andrews:

Thank you for having me.

Clark Cogbill:

Also, joining us today from Conway, Arkansas is Dr. Jeff Standridge. Jeff is managing director for The Conductor, a public-private partnership between the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie. The Conductor's mission is to empower entrepreneurs, innovators, and makers. He also serves as managing director of Innovation Junkie, a consulting firm that helps organizational leaders generate sustained results through innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness, and leadership. He was formerly a vice president for Axiom Corporation. He serves as co-founder of Cadron Capital Partners, and also teaches entrepreneurial finance and innovation leadership in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas.

Further, he is a two-time bestselling author of The Innovator's Field Guide: Accelerators For Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Change Agents, and The Top Performer's Field Guide: Catalysts for Leaders, Innovators, and All Who Aspire To Be, as well as multiple other books. He is also retired from the U.S. Army, Arkansas Army National Guard, and holds a doctorate of education with special work in leadership and organizational development, as well as a master’ss of education with special work and human resource development. Jeff is a busy man and he has carved out time with us today. Dr. Jeff Standridge, welcome.

Jeff Standridge:

Hey, thanks, Clark. It's great to be with you guys today. I appreciate the opportunity.

Clark Cogbill:

We appreciate you. I'm going to start with a question for Katherine. Katherine, as you know, it's not every day that we create new divisions at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Can you give us a little more background behind the decision to launch the new Small Business and Entrepreneurship Division?

Katherine Andrews:

Sure. So this new division was created in May of this year. It was established so that we could streamline some of our services in the agency and meet the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs more efficiently. [00:03:30] This new division is going to serve as a one-stop shop by offering small business resources that previously existed through several of our other divisions. So we are going to streamline a lot of our processes and procedures, hopefully make it a much more comprehensive and easy to follow strategy for when we talk to entrepreneurs and when we reach those audiences.

Clark Cogbill:

AEDC has been supporting small businesses and women-owned businesses and things like that for decades, but some of those services were in various divisions within the agency. So now we have one division that's focused on small business and entrepreneurship development.

Katherine Andrews:

Right. So in the past when a small business owner or an entrepreneur would call and say, "Hey, what kind of resources do you guys have for us?" We would say, "Okay, go talk to this person in this division and here's these resources in this other division." So they would end up talking to three or four people at the same time and it would get super confusing for them. So hopefully this will streamline all of those processes and make it much easier on them.

Clark Cogbill:

Great. So as director of this new division, tell us about your role.

Katherine Andrews:

So my new role will be basically working with all of those companies to develop their plans. We, in no way, are going to take the place of any coaching or mentorship or business plan writing organizations that are already out there, but our role will be serving as a connector. So not only will we be helping identify what incentives these companies may qualify for, but we'll also be connecting them with different resources statewide. So I'll be helping in that effort, as well as developing the different policies and procedures and creation of the new division, because again, like you said, this is a new division, so we have to build it from the ground up, and that is quite an undertaking. So developing the procedures and policies and processes for how we are going to streamline these new incentive programs is going to be a big part of the role that I'll play.

Clark Cogbill:

And a much needed role. So, Katherine and Jeff actually worked together on the Board of Science and Technology through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. So a question for each of you to jump in on, tell us a little bit about the incentives that are available through the State of Arkansas, through AEDC for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Katherine Andrews:

Sure. So we have a very large toolbox of resources and incentives just for small businesses and entrepreneurs. We have our traditional business development incentives, which target the larger manufacturing centers, large headquarters, facilities, but we do have targeted specific incentives just for again, small business owners and entrepreneurs. So when one of those companies calls us, we'll say, "Okay, tell us about your idea or your company or your expansion. What is your business plan? What is your expansion plan for the next year, next five years? What does that growth look like?" And then we're able to figure out, "Okay, here's what you qualify for and at what level." So some of our incentives are statutory and some of them are discretionary. So based on some of those numbers, job creation numbers, technology, and investments, we're able to figure out what values we can give to some of those discretionary incentives.

So those include everything from income tax credits based on total new payroll, to sales and use tax refunds on the purchase of building materials and equipment. So if you are opening a new lab space, if you are opening a manufacturing space, or if you're growing and opening a new office and you're buying desks, phones, computers, you can get some sales tax refunded on that. We also have an equity investment tax credit program, which is one of our more aggressive programs. One that is highly competitive and one that's... There's not many like in the United States. So we're pretty happy to have that in our toolbox, but we've also got some programs like the seed capital investment, SBIR matching grant, and our technology development program, which is a royalty-based investment for growing companies that are developing a technology. We use that as an injection to help them grow.

Jeff Standridge:

Clark, for folks that are out there listening, I would put all of those... And Katherine's right. We've got lots of tools in the toolbox. I'd put them into two categories. If they are a growing company and they know they're going to be employees or they're adding them today and they can make a reasonable projection out over the next two to three years plus of what they think that growth is going to look like, they need to get in touch with Katherine and her team for some of those payroll tax-based incentives. If they are developing technology. So let's say they've secured an SBIR or an STTR grant, that's a Small Business Innovation Research grant or a Small Business Technology Transfer grant from a federal agency, then they should contact the Katherine and the team for access to some of our matching grants.

Or if they're developing technology and are looking to commercialize that technology, they ought to be looking for some of those technology development program investments as well. So growing and can project what that growth is going to look like from an employee perspective, or developing technology with the intent of commercializing it, those are two big buckets that you ought to explore if you're one or more of those folks out there.

Clark Cogbill:

Great information that more people need to know about and some incentives and programs that are available. And there are a lot of resources throughout the state. One of those resources is The Conductor. Jeff, as leader of The Conductor, give us an overview of that organization and what you're doing to help entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses.

Jeff Standridge:

Sure thing. So The Conductor is a public-private partnership, as you said, between University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting, which is our business partner that is focused on the Northwest part of the state. We're based primarily in Central Arkansas, yet we officially serve 11 counties around the area where we're located here in Conway. We do however, feel as though we have a statewide remit, if you will and I know my business partner, Jeff Amerine, and the Startup Junkie team feel the same way as well. As you mentioned, our mission is to empower entrepreneurs, innovators, and makers. I like to throw an additional word in there and that's inspire. So to inspire and empower entrepreneurs, innovators, and makers. And we do that through a variety of work plans and work products, if you will. So one of the first and foremost is coaching, mentoring, and consulting.

So we meet with several hundred entrepreneurs on an annual basis, providing one-on-one or one on few. Sometimes they bring in their leadership teams or their top two people in the company, and we provide coaching, consulting, and mentoring. Whether that's in new product development, whether that's in startup, or maybe it's an existing business that's been around for a while and we work to help them grow their business. They come into us for everything from, "Help me look through my financials and see where I can make improvements," to, "Help me become bikeable, help me look for access to capital from venture investors," to, "Hey, I need to hire some people and I don't really know how to hire salespeople." So a variety of coaching, consulting, and mentoring. And we also try to connect them with community resources through our network, whom we know my have specific areas of expertise. And then of course, we're constantly engaged in a number of workshops, trainings, whether that's in the maker space, or that's in more of a classroom setting or a community setting where we're educating them on a variety of topics as well.

Clark Cogbill:

And there’s a connection between The Conductor and Startup Junkie. Can you explain that connection?

Jeff Standridge:

Sure. So Startup Junkie has been in business doing the same kind of work predominantly in Northwest Arkansas for about 15 years and somewhere eight years ago, I was chair of the Conway Chamber in 2013 and started asking the question, "Why don't we have more startup activity in Conway?" At that time, three institutions of higher education were located here. We now have a fourth, a large presence with Axiom Corporation. At that time, a very large presence with Hewlett Packard, and we just weren't spinning up startup activity. New starts if you will. So put together a committee to start looking at that and we spent several months talking to entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and what came out of that after probably about 15 months of work is a relationship between the University of Central Arkansas and then President Courtway and Startup Junkie Consulting to look at the assets and the opportunities that existed in Central Arkansas, and to see how UCA could play a role in helping to usher in, if you will, a movement in Central Arkansas, very similar to what Jeff Amerine and the Startup Junkie team had done up in Northwest Arkansas.

So that led to about a nine-month study of those assets and opportunities that led to the creation of a plan, and then ultimately, an adoption of that plan by the University of Central Arkansas board of trustees. So we are technically under contract with UCA, the Startup Junkie organization is under contract with UCA to run this organization that I lead here in Central Arkansas called The Conductor. So it's one team with two brands and two physical locations serving the statewide remit.

Clark Cogbill:

And a lot of high-energy people, I might add.

Jeff Standridge:

Between the two locations, the two groups, we have about 33, 34 people. About half of those are here, about half of those are in Northwest Arkansas, and I go home tired every day, tired but happy, but I go home tired every day because I am surrounded with lots of high energy, high impact, what I call high speed and low drag people.

Clark Cogbill:

Well, you heard it first on the Arkansas Inc. Podcast that Jeff Standridge does get tired. Well, so I'm going to stay with you for another question. Jeff, you wear a lot of hats. You're involved in a lot of things, but with all of the different organizations and initiatives you're involved in, there are some common themes: innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership. What makes you so passionate about these topics?

Jeff Standridge:

Well, each of them has a little bit of a different origin story behind it. So I was very entrepreneurial, was mowing yards by the time I was in the third grade and…

Clark Cogbill:

Wow.

Jeff Standridge:

... worked all the way through elementary, junior high and high school at a gas station muffler shop. So much by the time I was in the ninth grade, I could literally cut the exhaust system off of an automobile at the manifold and bend and re-weld the pipe all the way back. These days, I could make a lot of money as a welder if I still had the skills, but that's another story. When I graduated the University of Central Arkansas and UAMS, I was on the helicopter team at Arkansas Children's Hospital, and I actually purchased that gas station and muffler shop and a small mechanic shop in my hometown, and that was my first real formal entrepreneurial endeavor where I actually had risk. So I've been entrepreneurial for a very, very long time. From an innovation perspective, I actually left a career in healthcare to go to Axiom Corporation because of the work that I was doing as I was studying for my doctorate in leadership and organizational development, and that was looking at the differences between high performers and average performers among healthcare practitioners and Axiom wanted to replicate that same research among IT folks.

So I went into Axiom as more of a corporate innovator or a change agent as it's called and spent 20 years there doing that. In about 2007 or 2008, I guess it was, the Axiom organization and was going through... At that time, publicly traded, was going through a private equity deal, and we missed our numbers in a quarter in the midst of that deal. The credit market started tumbling as a result of the pending economic crisis. The backers pulled out of that deal, the investors pulled out of that deal, and the Axiom stock went from about $28 a share down to $6 a share. I was 42 years old at that time, and I was completely vested and heavily, heavily overweighted if you will, in my retirement investments in Axiom Corporation. And I made a decision at that time that I was going to begin diversifying over time. I was going to keep my Axiom investments, but I was going to begin investing in local businesses and startups that I could feel and touch and provide guidance and advice to and what have you.

I had done two startups for Axiom Corporation, one in Poland and one in China by that time, and then I had done some acquisitions in the Middle East and Brazil and around the United States. So I was not unfamiliar with the space. I had just been doing it within the safety net of a corporate salary. So I acquired an insurance group in 2010 that made itself available as a result of the immediately prior economic crisis and some other issues and I invested in several other business and helped some founders start businesses. So each of those, as I said, has its own origin story, but they all really... If I were to tie the unifying theme is on my 50th birthday, actually about... And by the way, that would be five years ago in November. About six months before that, I had decided that at that time, that I had spent about half of my life focused on making a living and I wanted to spend the second half focused on making more of a difference.

So on my 50th birthday day, November the 30th of 2016, I left Axiom Corporation and a few weeks later, we started The Conductor, and then a few months later, started Cadron Capital Partners and have just continued to work from there. So three different origin stories tied to these unifying theme of really wanting to make a difference in the State of Arkansas.

Clark Cogbill:

Well, I think all of that experience that you've had in your career is bringing a lot of value to startups, small business people, entrepreneurs across the state.

Jeff Standridge:

Well, I appreciate that. I hope it is, and I'm excited about the things I've seen happen over the course of the last few years, not the least of which is the creation of the new Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Division and the appointment of Katherine to lead that. Very, very excited about the work Katherine, that you're doing and the pending many, many successes of that division.

Clark Cogbill:

We're excited as well. So back to Katherine with a question, Katherine, as we're talking about small businesses and entrepreneurs in Arkansas, what does the small business landscape in the state look like from your perspective?

Katherine Andrews:

So it's very diverse. One of the amazing things about Arkansas is we have an incredibly diversified economy, and that bleeds down into small business. So not only are we diversified in larger industries and manufacturing and agriculture and the timber industry and metals, but that also, again, bleeds down into the small business arena. So Central Arkansas has established itself as the birthplace, the global leader of the FinTech industry. You've got a lot of logistics and retail companies, small businesses up in Northwest Arkansas, a lot of biotech coming out of there and out of Central Arkansas. You've got a lot of agriculture in the Delta regions, which breeds a small business innovation. So none of those are specific to each of those regions, but you can find those in greater quantities in each of those regions in Arkansas and that's what makes the landscape of Arkansas so unique because we are so diverse.

Clark Cogbill:

I might even add in the wood basket, in the southwest section of the state, you really have some thought leaders in the area of timber and paper products. And some of those folks like Dr. Matt Pelkki at the University of Arkansas, Monticello, he's been a guest on this podcast.

Katherine Andrews:

One of the great things about Arkansas that I have observed is that we have an incredible amount of resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Some of those include mentorship, coaching, and consultation organizations. We have a multitude of incubator spaces across the state. A lot of our universities are coming up with new programs, new maker spaces, new innovation labs. We've got research labs and facilities all across the state, accelerator programs, and also state incentives. So that is one role that our new division is going to take a part of or be part of, is helping those small businesses with access to those incentives.

Clark Cogbill:

I'm going to go back to Jeff now. When you think about entrepreneurs, people starting in their business, thinking about starting their business, maybe they have a business idea, Jeff, what's the most important thing for an entrepreneur to do when they're first starting out?

Jeff Standridge:

I'd say the most important thing is to not fall in love with the idea that you have, but rather fall in love with the business problem that you're solving. And to do that, you have to make sure that the business problem is a big enough problem, is seen as a problem by enough people, and a problem that people have tried to solve previously. So there's a tailwind there behind it, as I've heard another innovator say before, a tailwind there to solving it. Meaning that there are people there who will pay you to solve it for them. One of the things that we help entrepreneurs do is to think about this concept up of number one, is it technically feasible? If you think about a Venn diagram, a three-circle Venn diagram, is it technically feasible? Number two, does it impact enough people?

Is it a big enough problem? And number three, will enough of those people pay you the price point required to solve that problem such that it would be a profitable, ongoing concern? So the best businesses sit at the intersection of that three-circle Venn diagram. So we spend a lot of time, whether it's a new product, a new service, a new solution, or an actual new business, helping entrepreneurs step away from their biases, step away from this being in love with their ideas, and helping them qualify and quantify the business problem, and then building the business around it.

Clark Cogbill:                     

That idea's got to be sustainable. Doesn't it?

Jeff Standridge:               

Yep. That's exactly right.

Clark Cogbill:                     

So follow-up question, what are the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face?

Jeff Standridge:               

Well, I would tell you that one of the single greatest challenges is just what I described is they've never been told that before. They've never been walked through a process to de-risk their business before they mortgage their house to start it. So one of the challenges that they have is running forth into the wilderness, throwing money at their idea before they have really quantified or qualified or determined that it's not a feasible business idea, or it's not appropriate for that particular market, or there aren't enough buyers willing to pay the price point required. Assuming that they've done a good job of that, then really there are two issues I see today and one is access to capital and whether that's access to their own reserves to be able to seed that company and to get that company to a viable break-even point and beyond, or that's venture capital or private equity, particularly venture capital in the startup world. That's a struggle to these days, particularly when the economy is like the economy is today.

When the stock market's doing well, when the real estate market is doing well, that tends to weed out a lot of the angel investors, because why do they have to take significantly greater risks when they can get 12, 15, 18, sometimes 20% from the stock market, or they can generate significant returns from the real estate market? So access to capital. And I'll tell you, a growing issue that I see today is access to talent. Getting and keeping talent and this one impact that I think we're only seeing a glimpse of today, one impact of the pandemic that we're only seeing a glimpse lips of is the remote workforce, the proliferation, if you will, of the remote workforce, the workforce strategies that are being changed, businesses workforce strategies that are being changed as a result of the pandemic, traditionally office-based employees and office-based businesses, they're finding out that, "Hey, you know what? We can do this with a lot fewer people in our office and we can reduce our footprint, save on real estate and utilities and insurance costs, and we can rotate people and let people work from home."

Well, that same thing is people can work from anywhere now. And I've heard of dozens of people just in my own circle of friends and family, who've their job went remote and they decided to pick up and move somewhere else. Whether that's to Colorado or Montana or Wyoming or wherever there was a good broadband access. So that's something that I think the state of Arkansas is going to have to really deal with and I know the governor's recovery task force has talked about access to broadband, which is going to be a critical issue, number one, and number two, making sure that communities like for instance, Conway, Arkansas, which I believe happens to be the best place in the world to live, that we have the amenities, the community amenities to not only attract, but retain those people who have more choices today than they've ever had about where they live.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Right. The pandemic definitely had over all on the global economy, but to your point, some things that are coming out of it, this remote work concept that probably is here to stay could work in Arkansas's favor. I mean, we know Arkansas has one of the lowest cost of livings across the nation and if you can live anywhere you want to, why not live in beautiful Arkansas with a low cost of living?

Jeff Standridge:               

And I will tell you that that is very attractive for employers looking to base their companies here and for people who are more financially astute, you're exactly right. Unfortunately the general populous today is not as financially astute. So we see that because of the amounts of debt that get racked up and the fact that over 50% of the people really spend more than they earn today and they use credit cards to finance the balance. I know this podcast is not about personal finance, but that fact being influences where people live, so the cost of living to an individual isn't what it once was. So we have to also then provide quality of life and quality of place in addition to that cost of living.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Great points. So let's dig into that a little bit more about Arkansas itself. For both of you, and I'll start with Katherine, what makes Arkansas a good place to start a small business? If I could go anywhere with my small business, why come to Arkansas? Why start my business here?

Katherine Andrews:       

Obviously, I think Arkansas is one of the best places to start a small business and sustain that small business and grow that small business because yes, although Arkansas is a small state, we have an incredible amount of success stories. I mean, take a look at Sam Walton, growing that business into fortune one and countless others. One of the great things about Arkansas is our sense of community. Everyone wants their neighbor to succeed and Arkansas, for anyone that lives here knows everybody knows everybody. And you can call somebody who knows the CEO of one company and get you hooked up with them in five seconds and you can walk across the street and make a business connection. It's one of those places where again, everybody wants their neighbor to succeed, everyone wants to grow those small businesses and economy and see our small businesses thrive.

Another amazing thing about a small business in Arkansas is our political climate and our business friendly climate. We have a mandated balance budget. So you'll see in Arkansas that there's not as much ebb and flow of the recessions and downturns as you'll see in other states. So we are able to keep a pretty balanced flow of business in Arkansas. And again, with the tax cuts that have come in the recent years and that are coming in the future, this is a great place. Again, you mentioned the cost of living, not only are those costs of doing business lower here in Arkansas, but the quality of life and the quality of place is second to none.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Jeff, what would you add to what Katherine said about what makes Arkansas a good place to start a small business?

Jeff Standridge:               

Well, as Katherine mentioned, our low cost of living, that translates directly into lower cost employees. And I learned that when I was managing Axiom's global workforce strategy. Just to give you an example, I could put a software developer in Central Arkansas for about $30 to $50,000 a year, less expensively than what I could put one in California or New York, or even Chicago for that matter. And that's significant when you are trying to build a technology workforce. That is significant in terms of helping you generate a longer runway to financial breakeven or profitability.

So low cost of living leads to lower cost of wages, so to speak for the same jobs relative to other states. The other thing I would say is the want to, if that's even a word. Certainly here in the South, it's a concept, but the want to. Arkansas is a want-to state. We want to support entrepreneurs. We do a good job of supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners for all the reasons that Katherine mentioned a few moments ago and I think that makes us attractive in and of itself.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Well, I think the want-to is definitely a real factor when it comes to collaboration and access, working together, wanting to see each other succeed. I think that translates into a positive business environment. All right. Back to both of you, for this question, I'll start with Katherine. Is there one book, podcast, other resource video that you would recommend an entrepreneur or small business owner read or watch to give them a better idea or some great ideas on how to run a small business?

Katherine Andrews:       

One of my favorite podcasts is called Robinhood Snacks. It is a very short, easily digestible podcast. It doesn't take up a whole lot of your time during your day. You can listen to it on your way to work. It is all about just basic business news, what the financial strategy focus. So they cover what's happening in the business and tech industry in a fun, exciting way.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Robinhood Snacks.

Katherine Andrews:       

Robinhood Snacks.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Okay. Check that one out. Jeff, I'll ask you and it's okay if you want to recommend one of your many books or some of the several podcasts that you're associated with.

Jeff Standridge:               

Well, I would be remiss if I didn't say the Startup Junkies Podcast that is hosted by Jeff Amerine, the founder of Startup Junkie Consulting up in Northwest Arkansas. They do a great job of putting entrepreneurs on there and it's got, I think, downloads in about a hundred countries now and they do a really great job. The last couple of books that I have spent some time with that I would certainly recommend for small business owners to take and use today, one of those is called Traction by Gino Wickman, and it has to do with what he refers to as his entrepreneurial operating system. Traction by Gino Wickman, and then Business Made Simple by Donald Miller.

Many of you may remember Donald Miller, the bestselling author of Building A Story Brand and has created a book called Business Made Simple: 60 Days to Master Leadership, Sales, Marketing, Execution, Management, Personal Productivity and More, and the interesting thing about it is that it comes with a drip campaign, if you will. If you register your book, you purchase of the book, you get a daily email with daily video blip for about 60 days that guides you through very specific activities to carry out and exercises, all geared toward the purpose of growing your business. So I would highly recommend those.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Traction and Business Made Simple.

Jeff Standridge:               

Yes, sir.

Clark Cogbill:                     

I also just want to add, as we said earlier, Jeff is a prolific author. There's a series of books that Jeff has authored, field guides. Jeff, how many field guides are out there today?

Jeff Standridge:               

Well, there are only two field guides out there today. The first one's called The Innovator's Field Guide, which you mentioned and The Top Performer's Field Guide, and these books are... They're written in very digestible snippets. They're 52 chapters, and each of those chapters is preceded by of course, a title and a quote that whets the appetite of the reader, followed by about a three to five minute, very short anecdotal type of reading, and then three to four questions for reflection or action or consideration following the chapters. It's a devotional style if you will, but it's really very practical business leadership and entrepreneurial guidance. The most recent book that we've published is published in partnership with Jeff Amerine, we call Creating Startup Junkies: Building Sustainable Venture Ecosystems Unexpected places and it has done very, very well and continues to do well.

It is being picked up all around the country today, but it's really focused on taking what has been Jeff Amerine's life work the last 15 years, and my life's work the last seven or eight years of building a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem, but doing it in places that aren't your traditional coastal ecosystems like Silicon Valley or in Boston or down in Austin or what have you. Looking at very unexpected places and helping those places in the middle America, the Heartland, if you will, learn from our trials and tribulations, successes, and failures of how to build those sustainable venture ecosystems.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Fantastic. So a lot of good ideas for podcasts and books that are recommended by Katherine and Jeff. So I would take that to heart. Jeff and Katherine, for each of you, where can small business owners and entrepreneurs go to learn more? I'll start with Katherine.

Katherine Andrews:       

For the Arkansas Economic Development Commissions' resources, you can go to our webpage, which is Arkansasedc.com/sbe. On that webpage, we have everything from our incentives to business resources, the business process, news, and success stories, and you'll be able to find our contact info on there. You can even reach [00:36:00] out to me at [email protected] That's my email. So feel free to reach out with any questions. If you need to be connected to any resources, I'll be happy to help.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Great. And Jeff, how can folks find out more about The Conductor?

Jeff Standridge:               

Sure. For entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, I'll direct you to two websites. One is ARconductor.org. That's ARconductor.org. If you're up in Northwest Arkansas, that's StartupJunkie.org, StartupJunkie.org, and that's for, as I said, entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, small business owners below about $10 million of annualized revenue. If you're in the much larger size and you want to talk out innovation, leadership, or strategic growth, you can go to innovationjunkie.com. That's innovationjunkie.com.

Clark Cogbill:                     

Well, a lot of fantastic information today on this podcast, a lot of great advice. I would like to thank our guests on today's episode, Katherine Andrews, director of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Division at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and Dr. Jeff Standridge, managing director for both The Conductor and Innovation Junkie. You've been listening to the Arkansas Inc. Podcast. This is Clark Cogbill, director of marketing with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. For more information about AEDC, visit our website at Arkansasedc.com, and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Thanks for tuning in.