Business Column: Inland Empire SBDC Helps Small Businesses

By Alyssa Penman

High Desert Daily Business Reporter

(Victor Valley)–There are plenty of gloomy updates from traditional media on the state of our economy, but we, as a community, can choose to look for the great things we CAN do, right now, to improve our economic outlook. In a new weekly column, the High Desert Daily is bringing positive news and ideas that may be useful for your High Desert business. We welcome your comments, ideas and questions in the comments and for future columns.

Inland Empire SBDC Helps Small Businesses

Every small business can use some good advice. For the last twenty years, businesses in the Inland Empire have been able to rely on the help of the Small Business Development Center, part of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. I spoke to Business Consultant Louisa Miller today to learn more about what services are offered and how she thinks High Desert businesses can succeed.

Celebrating 20 years of service in October, the nonprofit IESBDC has offices and outreaches in Victorville and Hesperia as well as throughout San Bernardino and Riverside counties. They offer seminars and workshops, one on one consulting, resource libraries with materials relevant to all aspects of running a business as well as public access computers with internet access and popular business programs like Quickbooks that visitors can use to explore and evaluate. Many services are free, including the valuable time with business consultants.

Louisa Miller is a business consultant with twenty years of experience in a variety of business related fields, including retail, data processing. Based in the Victorville office, she helps High Desert business owners navigate the many complicated choices they must make to succeed.

According to Miller, one of the biggest challenges new businesses face is underestimating what it costs to get up and running. Her rule of thumb is to project in your budget “your income on the low side and expenses on the high side.” Many times new or prospective business owners ask if there is a specific amount of money, or plan for a certain number of months before they turn a profit. Unfortunately, she shared, there is no “magic number”.

Each business owner needs to do careful research to uncover the seasonal cycles and potential expenses in their industry.

Passion is important for new business owners as well. As a new business owner, I generally can’t afford a lot of help, so I have to be willing to do it all. “Can you rely on ‘me, myself, and I’?” Miller asked. She shared that it is exciting for her to see start up companies take shape with plans that are as realistic as they are ambitious.

The help provided by the IESBDC doesn’t stop with startups, though. More established businesses receive confidential consulting services for all kinds of growth issues. “When a business has hit a wall,” Miller said, “we can brainstorm ideas on how to get past it and help them find expert help as needed.”

One of the things she would share with all business owners is that they cannot expect “build it and they will come” to work. A solid advertising and marketing plan and funding is necessary to start, grown and maintain a successful business.

The confidential one on one consulting services are free to area businesses. All that is required is to go to their website, www.IESmallBusiness.com to fill out some forms and call to schedule an appointment. As a non-profit, the IESBDC is funded by counties, cities, matching funds from the Small Business Administration and donations from lenders, chambers of commerce and others who believe in their mission.

The IESBDC also offers seminars and workshops throughout the region. Some are free, others have a moderate cost of about $40. Topics include Quickbooks, The Science of Buying a Franchise, Employer Payroll Taxes, and Marketing Your Small Biz. Two upcoming seminars are How tot Start and Independent Contractor vs. Employee. Classes like these can help business owners grow intelligently as well as avoid potentially expensive pitfalls.

If you would like to find out more about how you can take advantage of the Inland Empire Small Business Development Center’s resources, call the Victorville office at 760-951-1592 or visit them online at www.IESmallBusiness.com. With free resources and experts like Louisa Miller, there is no reason to go it alone!

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