SBDC sees boom in 2013

It is an exciting time for small businesses.

According to Lisa Shimkat, Iowa Small Business Development Center regional director, more people are seeking expertise on starting or expanding a business.

“It has been a good year,” Shimkat said. “I’ve been here through 2007 and 2008, when it was really tough, and we had a bit of a recession and really struggled with businesses. Now it’s exciting. You have businesses coming in wanting to expand, to add employees. And there’s a lot of energy out there right now that makes it a lot more fun.”

During its calendar year, from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, the SBDC reports 29 businesses created in the 10-county area. Its goal for the year was eight.

“I can guarantee it’s more than that,” Shimkat said. “A lot of times, when we have a client, we get them to the bank or the lender, we help with the project, we already have 10 more clients knocking on the door asking for assistance.”

She added, “It’s a good feeling and it shows that you have a better environment now for small business.”

It is an improvement, Shimkat said, from 2007 to 2009, during the recession.

“We got a lot more of the refinancing, trying to change terms. Interest rates were a lot higher then, too. We didn’t see the expansions. We didn’t see people adding employees. That was tough,” she said. “For the business owner, the business itself is part of the family. It’s part of them. With things like the recession, those are things that are outside of business owner’s control.”

She added, “You had a lot more people looking at, do I want to take that risk?”

For those wanting to start a new business, the SBDC works with its clients to put together a business plan, do market research and look into the feasibility of the business concept. Then, they look at financing and revenue.

“You can have a great idea. You can have people that are going to buy it. But are they going to pay enough for you to make money at it?” Shimkat said. “Those are the three facets of business we really look at.”

Sometimes, Shimkat said, a first plan doesn’t always work out.

“I’ve had people who, we go through it all, and come to find out they’re not going to make money at it,” she said. “Then, you sit back and re-evaluate. Because part of our job, too, is to make sure people are well-informed with all of the information available before they make that jump.”

With existing businesses, the SBDC assists with marketing plans, evaluating financial situations and doing projections based on the state of the industry.

“We also work with companies, too, to evaluate processes,” Shimkat said. “Do they have the right processes in place? And what other processes can they put into place to be more efficient?”

According to Shimkat, this is a good time to start a business.

“The environment is a lot friendlier for small business,” she said. “People are loyal. Little communities are loyal to their small businesses, and understand the importance of a small business owner in the community.”

Only 11 weeks into its year, the SBDC has already seen growth in business development.

“We’ve already had 78 clients come to us since Oct. 1. which is an increase. We’ve also had eight new businesses start since Oct. 1. I’m very excited to see what this new year is going to bring,” she said. “It is a really good time now.”