MOSourceLink was founded in 2008 to support aspiring and growth-oriented businesses in Missouri. This report summarizes accomplishments and results for 2012, brought about in large part by the support of the Missouri Technology Corporation. During the past year, MOSourceLink has responded to 1650 requests for assistance, resulting in 2762 interactions. In addition, our websites have logged more than 82,000 visits. About 2500 business owners have searched for assistance using The Resource Navigator®, coming from every county and corner of the state. We made more than 1600 live referrals and more than 65,000 online referrals.
In the four years that we’ve been responding to business owners throughout the state, we’ve learned about their needs and have unique data to inform policy makers and state employees.
MOSourceLink provides Missouri with a highly reliable and identifiable system to grow businesses across the state by linking entrepreneurs to the right resources when and where they need it.
MOSourceLink by the numbers
- Hotline/Email requests: 1650
- Resource Navigator searches: 2507
- Web visits: 82,318
- Resource Partners in the network: 427
- Client satisfaction: 91%
- Twitter followers: 3563
- Facebook fans : 640
MOSourceLink provides referrals to clients in two ways: through our toll-free hotline and through the Resource Navigator® search engine on the website. As a central entrepreneurship and small business hub, we have become the only organization in the state that collects timely information about startup and growing businesses. We sit in the unique position of being able to provide reliable information and identify trends in terms of what kind of assistance businesses are looking, what industries they represent and the various stages of business.
The charts below illustrate the results for 2012. The top requests for assistance from our Resource Navigator searches centered on financial resources, business planning, starting a business, marketing/sales and legal issues. We find that these same issues top the list every year, although they sometimes switch places. The requests through the hotline were very similar, with regulatory compliance bumping legal issues out of the top five.
Clients come from a wide range of industries. Perhaps surprisingly, a large segment of clients who use the Resource Navigator to search for resources come from high tech industries such as information technology, bioscience and manufacturing, and high tech services and manufacturing.
Not surprisingly, most of those who seek assistance are in the concept or startup phase of their businesses. That said, almost a fourth are established businesses with a few reporting revenues of more than $1 million.
MOSourceLink clients come from all corners of the state, with the heaviest usage coming from the two major urban areas. We continue to get a significant number of requests from out of state, those seeking to do business in Missouri or move their businesses here. It’s important to note that volume from the Kansas City metro area is larger because KCSourceLink has been in operation there since 2003.
Gateway to state resources
MOSourceLink made almost a third of its referrals in 2012 to state offices in Missouri, such as the Department of Economic Development, the Secretary of State and Department of Revenue Tax Assistance Centers. About one-fifth were referred to local offices of federal government agencies such as the IRS, the SBA and SCORE and an equal number to state-sponsored organizations such as the SBTDC network, Extension, MOFast and the PTACs. The remainder was referred to MOSourceLink partners.
Given that such a large percentage of our clients are looking for assistance from state resources, MOSourceLink acts as a gateway and maximizes the use of state resources in several ways:
- By answering the hotline, MOSourceLink reduces the number of “unqualified” calls that go to state agencies; state agency employees can focus on their core business and spend less time learning about other agencies and referring clients
- MOSourceLink prepares callers, so that when they do call the right state agency, they have the necessary information on hand
- MOSourceLink refers callers to online state resources, forms, etc., again minimizing time for state employees
- MOSourceLink helps generate state tax revenue by reminding and encouraging startup businesses to register with the Department of Revenue and pay appropriate sales tax
The MOSourceLink network encompasses Resource Partners from all parts of the state, numbering 427. These organizations provide a wide range of assistance for startups and business owners, from business plan review to loan packaging to business incubation to help with city permits. The network continues to grow, and the only Resource Partners who leave the network are those who are no longer operating.
We take customer service seriously, striving to meet client needs with accurate and timely referrals. In 2012 more than 90% of our customers were satisfied with the referrals, with 57% ranking MOSourceLink as excellent.
In addition to surveying our clients as to their customer satisfaction, we also ask what business decisions they’ve made as a result of their interaction with MOSourceLink and our Resource Partners. The top actions are listed in the chart below.
A continuing challenge for MOSourceLink is spreading the word. The top referral sites for website traffic the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Revenue. Links from the Missouri Business Portal continue to be one of the top sources for our hotline calls. Achieving a higher profile on state websites would increase our outreach considerably.
This year we began using social media to extend the network’s reach. Our combined MOSourceLink and KCSourceLink Twitter followers number more than 3500 and we have 640 Facebook fans. Both media allow us to quickly disseminate information pertinent to business owners in Missouri.
The MOSourceLink events calendar is the only statewide source for all events, from SBTDC classes to Startup Weekends to events sponsored by the Governor’s office. The calendar is the second most visited page on the website, and provides an opportunity to promote a variety of events. The calendar is organized by region so that clients can search the entire state or just one region.
We also publish a monthly newsletter to highlight business resources and drive client usage of MOSourceLink services. The newsletter goes out to about 3000 constituents and features Resource Partners, events and tips for business owners. The newsletter works hand in hand with the MOSourceLink blog. The blog allows us to highlight information and events of interest to entrepreneurs and business owners, and we can link from the newsletter directly to blog content. This year we put special emphasis on shopping local during the December holidays and Global Entrepreneurship Week activities statewide.
Resources for out-of-state companies
MOSourceLink provides valuable assistance to out-of-state companies considering a move to Missouri or an expansion to the state. Most of those who come to MOSourceLink for assistance were looking for business planning, financial resources, marketing, startup help and networking.