SBDC strives to help local businesses

The Verde Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has been in its new location for about a year and is still providing education and one-on-one counseling for local entrepreneurs.

A. Roy Horn, who is the Verde center manager and business advisor, said that since the move from Cottonwood's Main Street to the Yavapai College Skills Center, not as many people just walk in for information. But the demand for services is still as high as ever.

The Verde SBDC is connected with another office in Prescott's Yavapai College campus. The two local SBDCs are then connected with centers across the country. It's a system that proves valuable, Horn said.

"We work closely with all the centers," Horn said. "We're a network. We're not isolated."

Horn explains that the SBDC caters to business people. The classes offered aren't typical college classes, although they are now offered for credit and students can earn enough hours for a small business entrepreneurship certificate.

Most of the courses offered last only five weeks and they are more like seminars and less subject-oriented than typical classes, Horn said.

"They're about solutions," he said.

A new set of classes has recently started. Small Business Accounting Principles is already in progress. Small Business Marketing starts at the end of September. Small Business Legal Issues, Business Plan for Small Business and Small Business Tax Issues will all begin soon.

Besides the credit courses, every two weeks the SBDC presents a seminar on owning and operating a small business.

The three-hour, no fee seminar gives an overview of the skills needed for owning a small business. The seminar touches on marketing, strategic planning, organizing, finance and accounting.

Horn said the seminar is recommended for anyone coming to the center looking for business advisement.

Giving people the foundation for small business success is important, Horn said. Lately he has noticed many people moving to the Verde Valley. They have some money and want to start a business. Most are near retirement age and may not have experience in operating their own business.

This entrepreneurship is good, but can be dangerous if someone is not well informed. With no business experience, it can be difficult, Horn said.

"The way you get ahead is working smart," he said. "This is the smart era."

Small business owners need to know their market.

"They have to find a niche Š the key is finding a niche that does not compete with the large boxes," Horn said.

The one-on-one counseling and business courses provided at the SBDC is one way new business owners may find some help. Horn said the center is getting busier as the Verde Valley continues to grow.

With a new location and new college president in place, Horn feels secure.

"We're very positive on the new president Š we feel confident that he will understand how important Yavapai College-run programs are to the economic success of the community," Horn said.

The SBDC is located on the Yavapai College Clarkdale campus, 601 Black Hills Drive. For more information on the courses or services offered, call 649-4587.

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