In my last post, I mentioned that I donate my time and expertise several times a month at our local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). I enjoy public speaking and sharing my 20 years of business and especially business finance experience. I have taught classes on cash flow forecasting, IRS rules for determining independent contract verses employee status, business start-up legal and bookkeeping documentation and a variety of other topics. In late August and early September, I am scheduled to teach classes on small business credit and collections, loan structuring, and cash flow forecasting (the topic I am most passionate about).
In my opinion, the SBDC in our community is one of the best kept secrets there is. Training is provided in the most beautiful state of the art higher education learning center, Volunteer trainers and paid staffers are highly motivated, well-prepared and provide practical knowledge of value; classes are provided at all hours during the day and evening, and lastly many of the classes offered are FREE.
For those course where a fee is charged; it is minimal.
It is a true shame that so many business owners don’t think attending one of the offered classes is worth their time. For those owners, bookkeepers and CPAs who do discover the secret, they nearly always leave a two hour class having learned something of value to them. They are very often repeat attendees of other classes. That tells me that the quality of education is good.
All SBDCs also offer business counseling for free or for a very low cost. At my local SBDC, the business counselors are all mature experienced business people who have the “been there done that” experience it takes to help a small business owner.
Counseling is provided both in the SBDC office and in your business. I have spoken with several business owners who have used 5-6 months worth of counseling. They have told me this service is simply invaluable. In one case, the business owner said the help he received helped him save his business from closing. It is now thriving and the business owner is under a lot less stress than ever before because now he has had good counseling and took advantage of quite a few classes that were offered at one of the training centers.
My local SBDC is dipping its toe into providing webinars in addition to classroom training. Their technology platform is state of the art and can easily provide distance education anywhere in the world, though our local SBDC will stay focused on the geographical area it serves. I suspect many SBDCs are looking at distance learning options with the cost of travel so high. Still, the idea of being able to serve more business owners who can take the time to attend a webinar is exciting to me. Distance education for small business owners is in its infancy and I seriously believe if we can get the word out and get business owners to participate, small businesses which account for over 90% of all jobs in the
I have two sons (17 and 20). As a young father, I didn’t attend any parenting classes but did read my fair share of parenting books. Looking back on the experience, I would have had a much easier and perhaps more enjoyable time raising my sons if I had taken the time to go to classes for new parents. My sons have grown up to be good strong young men, so I think I am out of the woods, but honestly, most business owners should read this story and realize that their business is like a small child. Just because you birthed (or own) the business doesn’t mean you have all the answers to rearing it.
Another source of good information about SBDCs and the various programs provided can be found at SBDCNet.
If your business is like mine today (July 3), things are pretty slow. Today would be a good day to discover the most hidden treasure in your community, your
You may contact Sam directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him on Twitter: SMBfinance
EXTRA: If you have questions for Sam regarding business financing, the credit market, and similar issues, please send an e-mail. Your questions will be recorded and Sam will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.