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For designers pondering an entrepreneurial venture, there are many potential obstacles between the idea and a successful, sustainable business. When the idea involves manufacturing, distribution, fulfillment, and other supply chain issues, the obstacles can seem overwhelming. In this video I found on the prolific design blog Core77, Dale Dougherty, editor and publisher of MAKE, interviews supply chain specialist Liam Casey of PCH International which helps manage manufacturing projects through a network of China-based resources.

I found the dialogue to to be eye-opening and encouraging. The range of resources available to entrepreneurs is broadening to include the full spectrum of supply chain needs—before and after the actual product is manufactured, and lead times are getting shorter. Casey also commented on the increasing accessibility of manufacturing options for small run projects. All of this means that there is a clearer path to success for design-driven ventures.

I’ve come across a couple interesting items recently about funding for small businesses or entrepreneurial projects. Ironically (but not surprisingly), both come from Bloomberg Businessweek.

The first relates to a resource that I’ve written about several times previously: Kickstarter.com, which helps people fund creative projects and off-beat business concepts. Users post their “pitch” online, set a funding goal, and ask for contributions. In less than two years, more than $1.5 million has been pledged to more than 5,000 projects. This BW feature profiles eight projects that have been “kick-started,” including some shocking funding totals like more than $200,000 to build an open-source alternative to Facebook. Click here for that full story.

Second is an article by Chris Burritt about Wal-Mart-owned Sam’s Club piloting an online loan program for small businesses that are Sam’s Club members. Wal-Mart appears to be responding to a statistic stating that only half of businesses that applied for a loan got all or most of what they needed. Click here for that full story.

I see both of these stories as encouraging news for creative entrepreneurs who are looking for seed money to launch a new idea. In a time when traditional forms of funding have dried up, this trend of funding coming from new and unexpected sources is something to be aware of.

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