With small business development centers, current and prospective business owners have access to resources at no cost.
“We spend our time consulting for small businesses and also offer workshops,” said Dave McDougal, consultant for the Northeastern California Small Business Development Center in Sacramento.
“It’s the best kept secret in the small business world.”
The services are also offered to existing or pre-venture small or large businesses.
“I wish I had known … when I had my own small business and I would have saved myself a lot of money and time,” McDougal said. “We can pretty much help small business owners with any issue that comes up.”
McDougal said he particularly works with the financial analysis side of small business.
“I am kind of a generalist and lean towards financial analysis side of small business things like preparing projected profit statements, business feasibility, putting together business plans, preparing loan packages, and trying to match our clients with the most suitable lendor,” McDougal said.
“We also have a pro adviser that helps with QuickBooks needs, we have a CTA for tax purposes, people specializing in marketing and a very extensive outreach program that partners with various agencies like chambers of commerce and one-stop connections.”
The center is funded by a federal grant through the Small Business Administration and serves Nevada, Placer, Sierra, El Dorado, Yolo, and Sacramento counties.
“We’re funded through the small business administration out of Washington, D.C., through a congressional bill,” said Panda Morgan, director of the small business development center in the greater Sacramento/Sierra area.
“That’s how we’re funded and why we can do it and not charge. People have already paid for it through taxes, which is why we encourage people to use it since they already paid for it.”
The center works with
local outreach centers including the One Stop Connection in Grass Valley.
“We set up appointments in Truckee, Grass Valley, Auburn, so we’re kind of all over the place,” McDougal said.
The center is also audited by the Small Business Administration to ensure effectiveness.
“We are measured and audited through SBA-type auditors to make sure we are creating jobs and infusing capital, retaining jobs and we measure increases in sales, profits, special events, awards, contracts, etc.,” McDougal said.
Morgan said it is common to see business people who need help understanding finances, something McDougal has expertise in helping people with.
“What we see more than anything else are business people who don’t understand money and that’s what his role is to help people understand things like cash flow, break-even point, how to read financial statements, what financial statements are doing for them, how to grow a business and allow you to grow and expand and hire people.”
Mark Hall, owner of chicken coop company Creative Coops, said he benefited from the small business development after working with McDougal.
“Dave McDougal has helped me with developing my business plan and projecting revenues, things like that,” Hall said. “He was also able to put me in touch with marketing and social media and by working with each of them I was able to really have access to a lot of professional help for free,” Hall said.
Hall was even able to expand his business after signing a deal with a chicken coop manufacturing company.
“I’ve just recently won a large manufacturing contract for several hundred chicken coops, so now I’ll be able to create jobs for people who’ve worked for me through this program and this is exactly what the program is supposed to be about,” Hall said.
The center can be reached at (916) 563-3210.
“Our goal is to make better all-around business people,” Morgan said.
“Because when you are a better business person that not only understands the product and service, but how to manage the product and service and understands vendor market pricing, they become a better business person and that’s our goal.
“Because if there’s a better business person even in a hard economy, they have a better chance of survival.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4230.
“Our goal is to make better all-around business people.”
— Dave McDougal, consultant