Jon Myers

Jon Myers

Jon Myers

September 07, 2021


When Jon Myers arrived on Vincennes University’s main campus in 1992, he thought, as a Construction Technology major, that he was preparing for a career in building trades.

But Myers soon learned something important about himself as a VU student – and it was a lesson that would change the course of his life.

“My time at VU made me realize I wanted to pursue scholarly pursuits, not just the trades,” Myers, regional director of the Indiana Small Business Development Center, said. “This was a result of my exposure to VU's core classes. I had some wonderful teachers and advisers at VU. My academic adviser was especially impactful. I often try to approach my clients at the Indiana SBDC the way he approached me. He was kind and seemed generally interested in helping me achieve my goals.”

Myers eventually transferred to Ball State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, and he later received a master’s degree in Management and Leadership from Purdue University Global.

Myers said his studies at VU also prepared him for life as an entrepreneur. In 2001, Myers opened a craft beer-focused restaurant and bar in Columbus.  Two years later, he sold the restaurant and turned to managing his real estate holdings.

Then, in 2006, he purchased a restaurant in downtown Columbus, renovated the building, and, with a partner, opened Power House Brewing Co. and Columbus Bar.

“My major in construction specifically helped me with my businesses,” Myers said. “As a restaurant and brewery owner, I had to be a ‘jack of all trades’ and was able to make many repairs and improvements myself.”

In 2020, Myers was hired as regional director of state’s Small Business Development Center. In that role, Myers assists owners with business startups and expansions, manages training opportunities for business owners, and works with community leaders to raise money to expand services for small businesses in southeastern Indiana.

Along the way, Myer said he’s learned how critically important it is for leaders to have a vision for their operations and to constantly communicate that vision to the team.

“The leader of an organization needs to communicate to his staff why they are doing the job they are doing, why it is important and valuable, and where the organization is heading,” Myers said. “People spend the majority of their time at work, preparing for work or thinking about work. People need to feel good about what they do, and they need to hear that they are having a positive impact on their community. I had a restaurant, and waiting tables or washing dishes is difficult, thankless work. However, it is extremely valuable to the customer, who can relax and enjoy themselves for a while. Today we see a trend of workers looking for meaningful work, even it isn't the best paying work. This is partly because they can see the impact of their work.”

Myers said he was reminded of another vital lesson in the past year while helping business owners navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Most small businesses are one bad month away from failure,” he said. “Most are over leveraged, and barely breaking even. What I've learned in assisting businesses is to make sure they have a financial cushion to get through lean months. They need access to capital and a plan to monitor and respond to external threats. Not just a pandemic, but natural disasters, political upheaval and regulations that could impact their industries.

As a business owner and now as an adviser to many entrepreneurs, Myers said he’s observed a tendency among owners to focus on day-to-day operations at the expense of the bigger picture.

“Most people get into business because they have a skill and talent, and that skill and talent is something other than managing a business,” he said. “Make sure to take time to step out of your business, to see it from a distance, as your customer can see it. If you look at a mess every day, eventually the mess starts looking normal.”

Asked about advice he would offer current students who may one day start a business, Myer said it’s essential for prospective entrepreneurs to understand why they want to launch a startup.

“Is it for them, or for their potential customers?” Myers said. “A business should solve a problem or enrich someone else's life. If you want your customers to give you their hard-earned money, you will need to provide them with a product or service that is valuable to them.”