This post by Ben Tedore
via Nevada Today by Nicole Shearer
Small businesses in Nevada were a big deal in 2014. The Nevada Small Business Development Center, a statewide resource for business assistance and headquartered in the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business, helped open 136 new small businesses in the state last year.
“It’s easy to forget the impact small businesses can have, especially with the growing focus on many big-named businesses in the state,” Sam Males, director of the Nevada SBDC, said. “These smaller businesses created 470 jobs and $18 million in new financing, clearly making a marked impact.”
According to Males, 62 percent of new jobs are created by small businesses nationally. In Nevada, 98 percent of businesses are considered small businesses, with less than 100 employees, and further, 70 percent of Nevada’s businesses employee under 10 employees.
The Nevada SBDC, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month, has become the state’s go-to resource for small business owners, with 13 locations statewide. From those just starting out to those looking to grow and develop their business, it provides a wide-range of services, expertise and training in all areas of business. Additionally, partnerships throughout the state allow the Nevada SBDC to serve a diverse group of individuals and offer outreach programs in several communities.
“Our mission is to promote and facilitate sustainable economic prosperity across Nevada through business and community development,” Males, who has been with the Nevada SBDC since its inception 30 years ago, said. “The programs we offer not only continue to evolve with the changing economic landscape of the state, but they also continue to cater to Nevada’s changing demographic population.”
The Nevada SBDC works to utilize the unique resources of the University including students, faculty and information sources to better educate both small businesses and students.
“Our business model differentiates the Nevada SBDC from the private sector and from the other ‘foot-in-the-door’ organizations like chambers of commerce, economic development authorities and community colleges,” Winnie Dowling, Nevada SBDC deputy director, said. “Our goal has never been to compete with these organizations but rather to partner with them and act as a resource and referral network.”
At the center of the Nevada SBDC’s model are the University’s students. Graduate and undergraduate students provide co-counseling, market research and help develop marketing and business plans for clients. They also act as an additional sounding board for clients.
“The internships here allow students to see firsthand what it means to operate a successful business,” Dowling said. “It’s a really different experience. These aren’t case studies, they are actual businesses willing to implement their ideas and suggestions. In turn, students provide businesses with valuable knowledge and education. They offer insight into how best to reach younger demographics and they teach businesses about how to reach people via technology.”
Melissa Molyneaux, managing director and vice president of Colliers International was a student intern at the Nevada SBDC during her final years at the University.
“Looking back, as a business major, it was an outstanding opportunity that prepared me for the ‘real’ business world and my current career as a commercial real estate broker with Colliers,” Molyneaux said. “While academics are extremely important, I learn best from hands on experiences and trial and error, which is exactly what the NSBDC gave to me. During my time as an intern, Rod allowed me to do so much including business plan writing, financial analysis, SBA lending options, logo design, real estate leasing and business services and product marketing. In addition to the ‘fun’ stuff, he taught me how to research, manage my time, and set expectations for clients. I cannot think of a better opportunity for a college student to get to work on real-world business issues than an internship at Nevada SBDC.”
The Nevada SBDC offers a wide-variety of resources which include education and training through one-on-one consulting in addition to programs like NxLeveL Entrepreneur Training, an intensive multi-session program delivering the knowledge needed to launch a new business or expand an existing one. The NxLeveL program was established in 2000 and has seen more than 4,000 businesses go through the program. Sandra Rentas, a business development advisor at the Nevada SBDC, was the first to offer the NxLeveL course taught entirely in Spanish – a first of any SBDC in the country.
Jesus Anguiano, owner of Westside Café & Coffee Company in northwest Reno, took one of Rentas’s NxLeveL training courses.
“Being from another country, I didn’t even know the resources I learned about in this course exist, even after being in business for 16 years,” Anguiano said. “Interns came to look at the restaurant and suggested changes to signage, our menu board, promotion through social media and even offered ideas for interior design. Social media really helped to increase the traffic to the restaurant. I’m also in the process of changing the legal structure of the business and greatly benefited from learning about the importance of having a will, trust and exit plan as a business owner.”
Unique to the Nevada SBDC are two programs; the Business Environmental Program and the Center for Regional Studies.
The Business Environmental Program, which started in 1988, provides free and confidential environmental management assistance to business and government operations in Nevada. Funded by the State Division of Environmental Protection, the program functions as a neutral third party for businesses to turn to for help in developing effective strategies to reduce hazardous materials and waste generation, conserve water and energy, minimize air emissions, and maintain compliance with environmental requirements. The program provides training, on-site consultation, assistance over the phone and through its website and publications.
The Center for Regional Studies is a service both large and small Nevada businesses turn to for data and market analyses. These analyses allow businesses to best select a location for operations, understand current market trends and predict where the local economy is headed. Most of the center’s work is done on a custom basis, designed to fit each client’s needs.
“Most of the businesses I work with are bread and butter businesses,” Rod Jorgensen, director of counseling for the Nevada SBDC said. “As I work with these businesses we will use the Center for Regional Studies to access data that allows us to interpolate it and confidently build a budget for a new enterprise or to determine the gross sales for that kind of business in the state.”
Jorgensen has worked with numerous small business owners including Gino Scala, more commonly known in the community as “GinoTheSoupMan,” co-owner of Great Full Gardens Café & Eatery and Great Full Gardens Express at the University.
“Working with the Nevada SBDC has been fantastic,” Scala said. “As a business owner it’s a challenge to know that the information you are getting is accurate. There is a level of confidence with the SBDC. We’ve gone from a couple hundred thousand in sales to $2.3 million and I feel like the SBDC played an integral part in that.”
For Males and many others at the Nevada SBDC, it’s important to remember that not all small businesses are tech startups with white boards and mobile devices working in the latest incubator space.
“The people who come through our doors are those who want to be self-employed and want to make a smart, successful living in a business of their own design,” Males said. “Small businesses are the backbone of this country and we’re honored to help people throughout the state wanting to give it a shot.”
The Nevada SBDC program is a partnership program between the U.S. Small Business Administration and the University of Nevada, Reno. Funding is provided by SBA with matching funds from the University and other statewide partners including many cities and counties in which they provide services. For more information about the Nevada SBDC, including a complete list of services, visit nsbdc.org or call 800-240-7094. Resources are available in English and in Spanish. Visit http://nsbdc.org/who-we-are/offices/ for a list of offices throughout the state.