The SBCD also provided 754 consulting hours, served 325 workshop trainees and helped create six start-up companies. The SBDCs around the country are funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA.
When the Ventura County SBDC opened its Santa Barbara County satellite office last year, it had a very small marketing budget.
“We hoped to build awareness by word-of-mouth and some grassroots efforts by attending and hosting business networking events and workshops,” said Melissa Moreno, SBDC director, who also runs the Scheinfeld Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at SBCC. “We had some daunting metrics to meet, but did all we could to push our services out to the community. “
Moreno said that slowly, but surely, small business owners and start-ups from both north and south Santa Barbara County are starting coming out of the woodwork and seeking SBDC’s no-cost services. “Clients are astounded when they learn there is no gimmick,” she said. ‘”You don’t charge anything for these services? You are not going to take an interest in my company?’ they ask.”
SBDC does not charge for the business consulting services it provides. “We are largely funded by the SBA and the community,” Moreno said. “We are in the fundraising mode, once again, to match the dollars coming from the SBA. Now that we have proven our worth in Santa Barbara County, we hope to garner bigger support from the local community.”
SBDC provides consulting on many issues, from leasing commercial space, to product development, and international trade. “Since we are a satellite office to the larger Ventura County SBDC, we have the benefit of collaborating with over 30 highly skilled consultants: Most of whom are active, successful entrepreneurs or business consultants, with advanced degrees and real-world entrepreneurial experience,” Moreno said. “Since we have some strict government reporting requirements, we are committed to creating a long-term relationships with clients, and seeing them through completion of their economic goals, be it increasing sales, obtaining financing, or hiring more employees. We guide the clients, step-by-step, but they have to do the work.”
SBDC numbers met or far exceeded the metrics it was assigned. “We made significant inroads to helping small businesses obtain financing or investment, and we helped create numerous new jobs, and helped businesses actually start, or increase sales,” Moreno said. “We think these numbers are significant, and speak volumes not only to the need that’s in our community, but to the value of the SBDC.”