Every business wants recognition and I am proud to share this link to an article appearing in December’s St. Louis Small Business Monthly. While I am the featured member of our team in this piece, it should be clear that the “Confluence Team” shares in this recognition. Rick, Danielle, and Dave are absolutely essential to any success that I enjoy and committed to the success of our clients first.
The article was written from a questionnaire sent to me by the author and edited to fit the space. I like the presentation, but it seems appropriate to share that unedited text here to complete the picture I was trying to paint.
Please tell me about your professional background.
You can click here to see all of our backgrounds.
What do you do today?
My partners, David Fingerhut (Attorney/Commercial Real Estate Broker, Des Peres, MO) and Rick Vaughn (Video & Event Producer/Lighting Designer, Alton, IL), our teammate, Danielle Johnson (Digital Media Director) and I are 2 years into building a single source business resource collaborative tailored to the needs of small business. Our versatility and network connections, individually and as a team, enable us to assess and optimize a brand from a wide lens. When we need an expert financial opinion, we simply call on our client and collaborator, John Placht (CPA+) for that expertise. In short, we prepare businesses and start-ups for What’s Next? – most want growth. Confluence Business Advisors bring the appropriate resources together to prepare them for growth, hence our name Confluence and location at the Meeting of the Great Rivers.
How do you help other businesses and business owners?
We try to give value first; simply demonstrate high levels of value through our integrity and leadership. It’s essential to show our clients how to be socially responsible and conscious of their community impact. Their future depends on it.
We emphasize planning, which most small business people and start-ups seldom do. I teach this and the importance of strategic activity at Lewis & Clark Community College, in Godfrey, IL, and present to high school entrepreneurs in the CEO program in Alton. It’s the most important and fundamental business tactic – your plan. We are always writing plans.
We make it easy to access our expertise; while our services are not free, the fees are fair and generous terms make it affordable. The terms also enable us to expand the impact of our relationship with the client.
Optimizing brands is our expertise, but generally an unfamiliar resource to many small businesses. Our team delivers much needed capacity and experience to projects, for about the cost of a part-timer. The end game is to become resource partners and collaborators with our clients.
What has made you a success there?
I’m not sure how you define success? Whatever successes I’ve enjoyed are the result of a lifetime of experiences and relationships. No one does it alone and I’m no exception. You can learn a great deal from people, if you pay attention. The best outcomes are a result of planning and collaboration! The work our team is doing now is extremely fulfilling, provides great value, and is a lifetime achievement. We want to leave it better than we found it and create a platform for young socially responsible entrepreneurs to build their future with collaborators.
Lastly, what do you believe the future of the business community in Southern Illinois looks like?
Southwestern Illinois is well positioned to become a Center for Resiliency – a model for sustainable business practices such as agriculture, local food production, and water resource management. Our region has a wealth of unique opportunities for clean energy, logistics, nature-based tourism, and small community entrepreneurship; but like every opportunity, Southern and Southwestern Illinois needs serious strategic assessment, planning, and collaboration with a variety of resource partners. Everyone immediately points to our proximity to St. Louis as the key, but how about our access to the world? There are many important connectors to leverage:
Yes, Illinois has direct access to St. Louis from 3 directions – N, E, and S; but we have global and Mexico access with superior versatile options for freight and transportation – high-speed (2017) passenger rail, freight rail, maritime inland ports and waterways, airlines, interstate highways, trucking, and logistics facility expansion;
~lots of affordable space to invest and grow,
~dozens of livable communities to develop resilient business models and innovate,
~lower costs of doing business,
~great manufacturing and growing environments,
~friendly people and a quality workforce,
~small community living with large market access,
Quality of Life factors: takes less time to get to a Cardinals, Blues, game and cultural events than from West County or St. Charles; travel time to Lake of the Ozarks (LOTO) – 3:00; Major Shopping in our own backyard and access to The Hill – 30 min.; “just say’in!”
What advice would you give to others looking to do business in Southern Illinois?
Collaborate! Always look for resource partners to expand your reach and neutralize any weaknesses. Here are some good ones: America’s Central Port in Granite City; SW Illinois Leadership Council; Regional Freightway (Bi-State Development); Lewis & Clark Community College (National Great Rivers Resource Education Center) Godfrey, Alton, Edwardsville; North Alton-Godfrey Business Council; River Bend Growth Association – Metro-North; SBDC at SIUE and East St. Louis; Peer 151 in Belleville; SW ILLINOIS SCORE, Godfrey & Belleville; U of I Extension – statewide; USDA Rural Development; IL Farm Bureau – statewide; and Confluence Business Advisors, ConfluenceBA.com.
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