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Senior Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group
Published: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Chris Thompson, 573-634-2824
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – First impressions are everything for Brandon Kelley.
At B.K. Bakery those impressions taste like German chocolate cake, cranberry orange scones and many other pastries.
“When people take time out of their busy schedule and decide to splurge a little bit, you want to make sure when they bite into that flaky pastry or warm cinnamon roll that they taste the quality and care you put into it,” he said. “There are so many things against you now in an unstable economy that you just have to make sure you’re on top of your game, using every resource you have, because it’s not easy by any means.”
After years of planning, Kelley started B.K. Bakery 18 months ago. Despite a troubled economy, he felt confident he could succeed. With help from University of Missouri Extension business development specialists, Kelley refined a business plan and made the leap.
“MU Extension helped me identify and think through things that ultimately could sink a business if they wouldn’t have been brought to my attention to figure out,” Kelley said. “Before you get your doors open you work with them day in, day out, multiple times a week, to work out the final details.
“After you open they don’t just disappear, so you’re not on your own. You have a partner.”
For Kelley, Chris Thompson was that partner.
The Cole County business development specialist began talking with Kelley in 2007, assisting with market research and troubleshooting startup problems. MU Extension provides this counseling to prospective and current business owners at no cost. Kelley and Thompson revised B.K. Bakery’s business plan three times and refined Kelley’s dream to fit the economic and demographic reality.
“We tell prospective business owners everything they don’t want to hear,” Thompson said. “The challenge is taking an idea and translating it into the who, what, when and where that makes a business work.”
Since October 2010, Cole County clients report that they’ve started three new businesses, created or retained 114 jobs, and produced $4 million in economic impact.
Statewide, MU Extension clients in 2010 started more than 250 businesses, created or retained 16,000 jobs, and generated $1.19 billion in economic impact through the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers (SBTDC) and the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC).
“There is impact coming from our programs. There is a return on the taxpayers’ dollars through Extension business development,” Thompson said. “Conditions are improving, but more importantly it’s a sign that there are business owners and entrepreneurs here in Cole County, here in the state of Missouri, who are growing their business and helping improve the economy.”
The 28-year-old Kelley decorated his first cake as a 4-H member in Chamois and in high school worked as a dishwasher with Madison’s Café in Jefferson City. Soon after graduating, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., earning an associate’s degree in baking and pastry arts. Following graduation he worked in the kitchens of the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, Wash., and the Upper Crust restaurant in Columbia.
That experience ignited Kelley’s interest in being his own boss.
“I thought I had learned enough to start my own venture and in the long term could benefit from all those long hours and my own natural talent,” he said.
Thompson still checks on Kelley’s business. His encouragement combines with the enjoyment of Kelley’s customers to reassure him that he made the right choice with B.K. Bakery.
“When I see the smile on a customer’s face, I know the taste takes them away from what they have going on in the world,” he said. “If they don’t have a smile on their face when they leave, if they’re not happy, I still have some work to do.”
Learn more about B.K. Bakery at www.bkbakery.com.
To find more about resources for small businesses at www.missouribusiness.net.
For more about National Small Business Week, see www.nationalsmallbusinessweek.com.
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