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"An Evening with the SBDC"

By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer/photographer

Community leaders got an in-depth look at how the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) of Texas State University assists start-up and existing small business owners during a presentation June 16 at the Bastrop Convention Center. The event was hosted by the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation and the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce.

Jill Strube (City of Smithville), Jean Riemenschneider (Bastrop EDC) and Sherry Schena (Bastrop County Board of Realtors). (Terry Hagerty Photography)

The purpose of the event was to familiarize key local business leaders with the wide array of services the SBDC offers, so that those leaders can serve as an informational conduit in connecting existing and start-up businesses with the services. SBDC speakers at the Bastrop seminar talked about many areas including market research, product development, capital acquisition, and attracting investors. Speakers also talked about the free online courses offered by the Center.

The SBDC provides free and confidential business-counseling services to clients. The business advisors apply their skills and experience to assist entrepreneurs in making better decisions about their small business. The SBDC is funded in part by the U. S. Small Business Administration and the State of Texas, and is supported by an extensive network of banks, chambers of commerce, and economic development organizations.

Mike Breck, Bill Thompson, and Donna Taylor with the SBDC were three of the speakers. (Terry Hagerty Photography)

Michael Breck, a Certified Business Advisor and one of about a dozen SBDC speakers at the Convention Center, talked about the importance of small business owners being able to clearly sum up – especially for start-ups – what their business actually does, particularly when attempting to attract investors. He told about being at one business technology gathering where an investor exclaimed, “I have no idea what you do!” – referring to an entrepreneur who had just finished a presentation about his technology business. Breck said business technology entrepreneurs must be able to describe their business “in non-scientific terms.”

Mike Breck shared some SBDC success stories. (Terry Hagerty Photography)

As for start-up entrepreneurs, Breck advises them to consider the potential of their business product – “Will it work?” He said having good ideas does not ensure that it “will work in the marketplace.”

Some of the other presenters from the Center included Bill Thompson, Nora Saim, Peg Richmond, Dick Johnson, Francisca Arana, Caroline Chelette, Donna Taylor, Joe Harper, and Dr. William Chittenden.