Teresa Wilkerson, Ph.D., assistant dean of adult studies, recently spoke at an event geared toward Wichita entrepreneurs. Get Started Wichita took place Sept. 27 at the Wichita Boathouse.
Competitors pitched their ideas to a panel of experts for a chance to win up to $20,000 in cash and prizes.
Wilkerson said encouraging entrepreneurism is vital to a thriving business community.
“The whole idea of the American dream, being able to own your own small business … also means you are able to be a contributor to your community and hiring within the workforce,” said Wilkerson. “Helping others, even if it’s to provide enjoyment, being able to be more self-sufficient. There is a great sense of independence when you can build your own business from the ground up.”
And for other community members, “it spurs innovation without which we become stagnant.”
Wilkerson spoke to the Get Started Wichita audience about hard work, endurance, mindfulness and humility — all characteristics of an entrepreneur.
“I think, sometimes, we forget just how blessed and fortunate we are to live in a country that truly offers limitless opportunities for anyone who is willing to not just be strong-minded, have initiative and work hard,” Wilkerson said in her keynote.
She also spoke about support — the support that a community has the responsibility to give to the innovators and dreamers.
“We must continue educating our youth because that’s where it starts. Sometimes with just a pile of colorful yarn. But most of all, we as a community, must keep supporting our entrepreneurs with continued collaboration, financial investment and business support.”
The event’s competitors were narrowed down to a top five and each were given the opportunity to present to the panel. The winner was Jennifer McDonald, founder of Jenny Dawn Cellars, who will soon be located at Union Station in downtown Wichita. Jenny Dawn Cellars currently has four wines available and can be found at select liquor stores in Wichita.
Wilkerson said she was honored to attend the event and meet the entrepreneurs who are working hard and taking risks to create and do what they love.
“They were all extremely skilled in their businesses … and it was so much fun watching them and seeing the potential from where they start to where they end up. It’s the risk-takers that make good entrepreneurs, having the guts to say, ‘I can do this.’
“They are going to make a difference in our community. They are going to build businesses, create jobs and make our community better. You can’t put a price on that.”