The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports most small businesses are now open again, however, 55% believe it will take six months or longer before the country’s business climate returns to normal.
Utah Valley University is helping local business owners through the challenges caused by COVID-19 by providing access to its Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Business Resource Center (BRC). So far, they have fielded nearly 250 calls from businesses seeking advice during the pandemic crisis.
SBDC centers exist across the country, with 14 locations in Utah. These centers provide training, tools, and consultant access to help business owners expand their businesses. The SDBC hosted by Utah Valley University uniquely excels due to the “phenomenal” support it receives from UVU, according to its director Camille Pendleton.
Coined a “game-changer” by Pendleton, the BRC at UVU has supported SBDC’s ability to help small businesses flourish. The BRC provides business owners within the UVU community a multitude of resources, including workspaces, events and consulting. Working in tandem, the BRC and SDBC operate alongside other entities to provide a robust, one-stop location for training, consulting, co-working and government assistance. Through the SBDC, business owners also can get free coaching for WordPress, QuickBooks, marketing, startups and confidential, one-to-one counseling.
UVU’s SDBC also has been integral in supporting the state’s Small Business Administration (SBA) economic relief efforts. When, for instance, the SBA encounters callers with more technical, difficult-to-answer questions, they’ll send those callers to UVU’s SDBC for in-depth guidance.
Pendleton says most of the recent calls her team has received are from small businesses seeking guidance in obtaining a loan during the pandemic. Their team helps these business owners understand what programs are available, where they are coming from, which ones they’re eligible for, and the process to apply for and get financial help.
The SBDC is well seasoned in helping established business owners manage crises and in supporting entrepreneurs as they get their businesses up and running. Companies like Nectar, a successful HR technology platform, received guidance and support from SBDC in the early stages of their growth. Nectar also utilized incubator space in the Business Resource Center.
While the pandemic has created problems for businesses, it’s not all bad news. Pendleton suggested that this moment in time is not only about managing a crisis but could be a fortuitous opportunity for some entrepreneurs looking to start their own small business.
“There are opportunities that weren’t there before,” said Pendleton. “New opportunities where entrepreneurs will see a need they can fill. At the Small Business Development Center, we help existing business owners, and we also help people get started.”
As the UVU community continues to grow and evolve with the current times, the SDBC and BRC will continually stand ready to help business owners in their unique needs and pursuits.
“We help business owners be successful,” said Pendleton. “Our mission is to improve people’s lives through small business success.”