San Diego Small Business Development Center reaching out to East County small businesses

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Entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs succeed.

That is the job of the San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Regional Network. With three separate SBDCs centers, San Diego and Imperial County small businesses have free to low cost help for those who want to begin a business and those in business ready to take the next step in growth.

Entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs succeed.

That is the job of the San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Regional Network. With three separate SBDCs centers, San Diego and Imperial County small businesses have free to low cost help for those who want to begin a business and those in business ready to take the next step in growth.

This network of expert entrepreneurs has three centers, the San Diego SBDC, North San Diego SBDC and Imperial Valley SBDC. Located at the Southwestern College Higher Educational Center in National City, the San Diego SBDC is now offering classes and one-on-one counseling sessions in East County.

Debbie Trujillo, San Diego SBDC director said it does outreach in East County consulting at the East County Economic Development Council once a month and at the Santee Chamber of Commerce every Tuesday morning from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. It soon will start consulting at the Contract Opportunity Center on Fridays in Mission Valley.

“We have the workshops because we know that there is a need in the community for people wanting to start a business,” said Trujillo. “We are building up our consultant base to help the folks that are already in business who can help them in the areas of sales, marketing, financing, importing and exporting. Whatever their needs are, we have the experts to help them grow to the next level.”

She said that at least 50 percent of its client base is working with people that are already in business and ready to expand.

“We are looking to help business already in business and we can help,” she said. “They may need to diversify their products and services or they are in the expansion phase and if they are not careful, they can grow broke. If they grow and build up too fast we help them with the best ways to hire and manage their finances with our Profit Sense program.”

Trujillo said in many cases what happens as businesses grow there are so many other tasks that fall into place that business owners need to find effective ways to manage without losing the service component.

“What usually happens is that it grows so fast that the service begins to falter,” she said. “Like before, it might have taken an hour, but with the growth, it now takes a day to complete a service or product. They might think they can still handle it in an hour, but they can’t. They just can’t keep up with what is in the queue. We can help them learn to manage that part and continue to expand.”

Under new leadership at the regional level, Aleta Wilson, San Diego & Imperial SBDC Regional director said she is an entrepreneur with all of her heart and soul.

“I have been down that path that researchers say three failed businesses before having one successful one,” she said. “I’ve done all that. I started my first business at 24.”

With a background is computer science, Wilson’s expertise landed her in a small business niche as a consultant.

“I started out alone, as the only employee and 15 years later, I had 150 employees,” she said. “Network engineers, technical engineers, writers based out of Washington D.C. working with government contracts. After the business really got off its feet and I became very closely involved with the National Association of Minority Business.”

Wilson said she became heavily involved advocating with legislators, staff on behalf of minority businesses.

“It was there I developed a new passion—the passion for helping small businesses,” she said.

While searching to expand her business, she received an offer to buy her business that she decided to sell, went back to earn her doctorate in public policy and then taught for nine years. She then went to work for local SBDCs in Washington D.C. while running her own consulting business. Wilson said it was a bold step, but is happy that she moved to San Diego to lead its Regional Network of SBDCs.

“This is a tough position because of budget situations, but I want to make this one of the top ten SBDCs in the nation,” she said. “You have to have a vision. I plan on kicking things up here several notches. We are moving away from talking head workshops and our new rule is that every workshop will be interactive.”

On June 12 at the Scottish Rite Event Center in San Diego, in support of the small business community, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Regional Network are partnering up for its 2013 SBA/SBDC Small Business Awards Luncheon and SBDC Growbiz Conference. This award ceremony honors the small businesses that preserved and excelled in challenging economic times and recognizes the small business leaders, advocates and consultants that helped them to succeed.

Conferences scheduled will highlight experienced entrepreneurs’ insights into social media, cloud computing, sales, website, business synergies, procurement, government contracting new industry trends for both beginners and businesses looking for help in growth. For more information on the annual conference and awards, classes for people wanting to start a business and help in growing an existing business go to www.growmybiz.org.

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