About Heartland Heroes

…building a sanctuary for Heartland Heroes and a “toolbox” of supportive relationships, information, tactics and strategies to survive and thrive in good times and bad.

The Heroes of the Heartland are those men and women who get up every morning and bear the risks and burdens of business ownership and create opportunities for the rest of us. Heartland Heroes demonstrate integrity in their words and actions. They have a passion for their business, its employees, suppliers, and customers. And they always find time for those in the community that are less fortunate.

As a direct result of their success in meeting the daily challenges of business ownership employees are paying off home mortgages, paying off car loans and saving for college educations.

Today’s Challenges to Business Owners

This is a profoundly fragile business environment. Uncertainty surrounds the downturn’s depth and duration. Fear spreads as every day brings more bad news. The world of the small business is getting tougher and tougher. Economic uncertainty, the lack of capital, competition, regulations and shortage of talent has negatively impacted small businesses.

Corporate life spans are shrinking.

In 1958 the average tenure of a company on the S&P 500 was 61 years; by 1980 it had dropped to 25 years. Today it’s just 18. Small business lifespans are down to 8 ½ years. According to the Small Business Administration about 550,000 small businesses close each year. Kansas City supports a large number of family owned businesses. Multi-generation family owned business face significant odds that they will be the last generation owner. Statistically only 30% of family owned businesses pass successfully to the 2nd generation, 15% to the 3rd generation and only about 5 % to the 4th generation.

The Quest for Future Leaders

The quest for future leaders to perpetuate past success has never been more important or more difficult.

A Leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. (John Maxwell) The best leaders lead today with tomorrow in mind by making sure that they invest in leaders who will carry their legacy forward. (John Maxwell)

The Challenge to find the Next Generation Leader involves finding a MATCH between the challenges of tomorrow and the talents of the next generation leader.

Support for Heartland Heroes

Even Heroes need help…sometimes.
Something needs to be done to support our Heartland Heroes…not tax breaks and not subsidies that drain the funds needed to support our schools and community infrastructure…rather a sanctuary and a “tool box” of supportive relationships, information, tactics and strategies to survive and thrive in good times and bad. We seek to build a community of Heartland Heroes…high performing, high integrity business leaders.

Has it ever not been lonely at the top?
No amount of formal education, years of hard knocks or a truckload of thoroughbred genes can prepare a business owner for today’s complex environment.

Kansas City has been blessed with three icons in entrepreneurism: Ewing Kauffman (the Kauffman Foundation), Henry Bloch (the Bloch School of Entrepreneurship) and Barnett Helzberg (the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program), these very fine organizations are designed to serve those who seek to become entrepreneurs and early stage emerging business owners.

Beyond the early growth phase for small businesses, there is no client centric, Kansas City based resource specifically designed to provide individual and group continuing education to small business owners. This void presents an opportunity to build a community of Heartland Heroes. At its core the community will be focused on peer learning…a Heartland Hero University School of Hard Knocks.

Biggest Challenges

Kansas City is a great place to live, raise a family and to work. We are blessed with three entrepreneurial icons, Ewing Kauffman, Henry Bloch and Barnett Helzberg, who enjoyed storied careers and have reinvested back into the community to support future business owners.

Services to successful business owners who have grown beyond the focus of these early support resources are fragmented and it is difficult, if not impossible, for the typical business owner to evaluate integrity, competence and chemistry among the array of service providers.

We seek to build a supportive structure for Heartland Heroes designed to enhance their effort to build value in their business. Among the many challenges to be met, there are four that are the most important.

Steve C. Johns, MBA, JD

Steve has been involved in building organizations, turn-around consulting and mergers and acquisitions of businesses for over 25 years; first in the insurance brokerage industry, then in the healthcare industry and now as an independent resource to business owners.

As Founder of Heartland Heroes, Inc., Steve serves business owners in a professional and confidential manner to assist business owners to enhance value, to grow their business and to capture the optimal reward for their effort. Peer groups are a unique environment where business owners and CEOs can share and learn from one another as well as build lasting relationships. As a facilitator and mentor to the peer group Steve combines integrity, skill and experience to create a confidential environment where the learning and sharing are optimized.

Steve received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a Law Degree from the University of Kansas.