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U of L professor sets up system to help entrepreneurs get their businesses rolling

Marshall Gazaway hustles his way around his restaurant. The small business owner is always on the go, whether he's making sandwiches or delivering food to different events.

Marshall Gazaway, small business owner

"When you open the door to be in business it doesn't necessarily mean people are going to come into that business. You have hope, desire, what you need. But when I turn the key into the door is when it all changed."

That's why Gazaway is working with an entreprenurial outline created by University of Louisville professor Tom Lyons.

Dr. Tom Lyons

"Entrepreneurs come to entrepreneurship at different skill levels. There's a hierarchy of skill. People at lower skill, in between and highly skilled. Add to that another assumption which is that skills can be developed gives us the basis for the entrepreneur league system."

Lyons compares it to baseball's minor league system. Those entrepreneurs who are taking the first steps would be in the rookie league. Those who are more advanced could be considered triple-a, approaching the big leagues of business.

Dr. Lyons continues

"Because of this they can understand where they are now, where they want to be and what has to be done to get there."

Based on 18 years of research by Lyons and his colleague Greg Lichtenstein, the system allows entrepreneurs to get help not only in the beginning but over a long period of time.

Gazaway is being coached by the Metro Business Resource Center in Louisville. They offer advice from managing finances to opening the door to other corporate opportunities.

Verna Goatley, Metro Business Resource Center

"Getting him certified with minority businesses. That way we give him opportunities through corporate partnerships to get his name out there with them."

Gazaway says he'd be lost without the help of Lyons' ELS.

"It has shown me a whole bunch about keeping that entrepreneurial hustle going at all times."

Lyons is implementing the same system in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. He recently received a two million dollar grant from the Kellogg Foundation to continue that work.

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