Building toward success

The Entrepreneurship Success Series at Kaua‘i Community College is an exercise in sustainability, according to program Director Glen Hontz.

While the catch phrase is often associated with environmental causes and natural resources, Hontz says that successful local businesses strengthen the fabric of the community and thereby make living on Kaua‘i more sustainable.

He said a common problem for budding and veteran entrepreneurs alike is a failure to plan.

Often, the small business owner takes on multiple roles, including manager, accountant, staffer, public relations representative and others. And when those responsibilities happen to prey on a weakness, they can go overlooked.

“A lot of things (owners) are not good at they turn their back on,” Hontz said, adding that a key part of planning is delegating.

Not good with numbers? Hire an accountant, he says. Confused by legal jargon? Consult an attorney.

“You don’t have to be a one-man band,” he noted.

Hontz — who has spent the better part of his career teaching individuals how to start, run, manage and grow a business — holds master’s and doctorate degrees from Columbia University. He has taught at the University of New York, University of Rochester, University of California, as well as the University of Hawai‘i.

In addition, Hontz has founded many businesses of his own, both on- and off-island.

Parlaying experience into instruction, Hontz started teaching entrepreneurship courses within the college’s Fast Track Degrees program a little more than four years ago.

Since then, the series has become federally backed. Hontz personally wrote the grant four years ago for funding, which was awarded by the Department of Agriculture to expand and continue the program.

The first of four courses, which begins Wednesday, takes participants to the beginning: business planning skills.

“Planning is obviously the foundation for a good business,” Hontz said. “Planning really moves it into a clear direction.”

The second course, which runs from November to January, focuses on business management. Hontz said that the current philosophy on managing people and processes stands in stark contrast to the “plantation mentality” that he has found to be prevalent on-island.

Instead of an authoritarian approach and superior attitude, he said modern management systems center around enriching employees and recognizing their value.

“If you empower them, you are empowering your organization,” he said.

After planning and management comes growth and expansion — the third course in the series.

From February to May, Hontz instructs students on when and how to reach optimal operations. He noted that expansion should be planned, too.

“Businesses that grow too fast can take a nose dive, rather than (move) in an upward direction,” Hontz said.

Finally, next summer, the fourth course will delve into fund raising, loan procurement and grants. Hontz said this is the most popular segment by far. He noted that one of the local business community’s critical needs is a better system of raising money — a way to tap into the wealth that exists on Kaua‘i to improve and strengthen organizations, and in turn, the community.

All of the classes are open to anyone with an interest to learn. Hontz said he has had executives to small business owners to people with no business experience whatsoever participate.

“It’s a very unique instructor who can keep all people instructed and challenged and interested,” Food Bank Director Judy Lenthall said of Hontz.

Lenthall’s son, Jameson, 22, is planning on enrolling in all of the courses. Currently employed at Home Depot, he said he knows the skills will come in handy as he defines his career path.

The classes are offered by KCC’s Office of Continuing Education and Training at $300 for each segment. They run small — usually 25 to 30 people at the most.

Enrollees whose employers meet certain requirements can qualify for a half-off discount by visiting WorkWise! in Lihu‘e, 100 Kuhio Highway, suite C-9.

For more information about the discount, call WorkWise! at 274-3056. For more about the courses, call Hontz at 246-4859.


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