Economy General

Inland Empire Small Business Development Center Assist High Desert Business Start-Ups Evaluate the Local Business Environment

By Louisa L. Miller, Business Consultant

The economic fate of the nation of­ten does not reflect the environment and activity in the High Desert. Small business growth has been slow since the Great Recession across the coun­try ,and the uncertainties caused by changes in national and local govern­ment, for better or for worse, make business and banking more cautious. Uncertainty is the hobgoblin of busi­ness growth. The interest folks in the High Desert have for starting and growing their small businesses is strong.

The Inland Empire Small Business Development Center notes that the top startup business categories in­clude food services/restaurants, retail, consulting and fitness-related busi­nesses. These categories look a lot like they did a decade ago. In some ways that is a concern because of rela­tively low pay, but the upside is that our region consumes a lot of retail of­ferings. There is opportunity for small manufacturing-and logistics-related services that can be supported by local infrastructure and personnel.

Those wishing to take advantage of the older and newer opportunities need to look for problems that exist and bring solutions that solve problems that peo­ple care about to the table. It is also important for them to be passionate about what they do and not just be in it for the money. A key component of working with startup businesses is assisting them in the feasibility pro­cess in evaluating the business envi­ronment, identification of customers, as well as establishing their business legal structure. In short, there needs to be evidence that supports the busi­ness idea.

Existing businesses counseled sought assistance with business expansion, working capital, equipment or real es­tate purchase loans; business manage­ment and marketing. The IESBDC assists them with gathering market and financial data to support their business expansion, loan, etc. In addition, as­sistance is provided with the develop­ment of financial projections based on proposed business growth expected from the expanded operations or fund­ing. It is also important to assist exist­ing business with a feasibility analysis to ensure that the proposed expansion will be profitable and generate posi­tive cash flow.

Client sessions cover a variety of top­ics based on the client’s specific needs and can touch on things such as: how to start; being an entrepreneur; busi­ness planning for expansion and mar­keting/advertising. The top areas of counseling are: Sources of Capital, Startup Assistance, Business Planning and Marketing. Client referrals come from a variety of sources, including banks, government agencies, cham­bers of commerce and client word of mouth. These businesses include light manufacturing, restaurants, au­tomotive service/repair, janitorial, re­tail, Internet-based businesses, home -based businesses, landscaping, coffee shops, gift shops, and residential care facilities.

In 2016, with the establishment of outreach offices at the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce and the City of Hesperia, individuals seeking to use the services of the IES­BDC were given the op­portunity to choose one of two locations to meet with Business Consultant Loui­sa Miller. During 2016 the IESBDC offered 13 semi­nars and workshops in the High Desert covering such areas a pre-business plan­ning, marketing/sales, ac­counting/budgets, business loans, QuickBooks and tax planning. In addition, in late fall a Business Focus/Boot Camp-style series was hosted at the Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce offices. The 4-part series included the following topics: Open for Business; Under­standing Your Financials; Marketing Your Small Business; and Marketing Technologies to Attract Customers.

Currently, there are 10 seminars scheduled for 2017. Anyone interested in registering for one of the High Desert seminars or others scheduled throughout the two-county area can go the IESBDC’s website, www.iesmallbusiness.com, and click on the Training section.

The Inland Empire Small Business Development Center is a cooperative program of the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship and is supported by the U.S. Small Business Admin­istration (SBA) and California State University Fullerton and extended to the public on a non-discriminatory ba­sis. To learn more about the program or to schedule an appointment, call Louisa at 951-295-4183.

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