Yavapai County, Arizona – Members of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) team have been actively consulting with the Small Business Makeover Program (SBM) participants since the approval and distribution of CARES Act funds in late 2020. These funds were allocated to support businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and have been essential to the recovery of companies in our northern Arizona communities and across the country, specifically those in rural Arizona.
Poised to implement this program, the Yavapai College SBDC has been providing expert services across Yavapai County since 1988. Utilizing existing relationships and the diverse acumen of their team, the SBM pilot program has been effective in improving the resiliency and recoverability of area businesses.
With support from community leaders and economic development professionals, the SBM pilot program received applications from over 30 area businesses to participate. Applicants had one or more of the following challenges: a loss in revenue, an increase in costs, a temporary closure, or a lack of workforce since March of 2020.
Despite such challenges, business owners approached the SBM opportunity with open minds and a willingness to learn and apply new skills and knowledge. “It has been incredible to see the transformation and the gratitude from businesses in the program,” said Analyst, Marie Platowski-Beals.
Two businesses were chosen by a selection committee as Makeover of a Lifetime (MOL) winners. In addition to the regular Program offerings, MOL winners have additional opportunities for specialized consulting, resources, and funding that have advanced their businesses.
Pam Sculthorp, owner of Body Bliss Intentional Aroma Therapy expressed her gratitude for the program. “After winning the Yavapai College SBDC Makeover of a Lifetime, Body Bliss has been amazed and impressed with the amount of resources we’re being introduced to in order to address all the opportunities we have in-house that have needed attention for quite a while e.g. store merchandising, employment law, outsourced contracting work. The Yavapai College Business Analysts have also been providing their own mentorship expertise in areas of budgeting, cash flow and just general business knowledge – giving us a fresh set of eyes on our operations.”
Laura Valenzuela, owner of Insurgent Brewing also commented on her experience. “As the first winners of the Makeover of a Lifetime, this has truly been an inspiring and eye-opening experience. The SBDC has helped us target new customers through radio advertisement and a new website build. Their guidance in HR training was much needed and the new restaurant design has made for a hip and cozy spot to enjoy our prized craft beers.”
An additional 15 businesses, three of which are Hispanic owned, are continuing to be actively engaged in the program’s resources, training, and one-on-one consulting services with SBDC business analysts. The SBDC has confirmed that engaged businesses collectively employee nearly 100 people.
All SBM participants have gained access to a business plan writing tool and to SBDC’s newly created online Business Bootcamp. This highly successful webinar series covered strategic business topics including marketing, business plan writing, finance, metric analysis, and employment law, among others. Collectively, the bootcamp series participants logged over 100 hours of training.
Following are quotes from a few Small Business Makeover program participants:
Marlo Johnson, Oak Creek Arts and Crafts: “Thank you SBA for the incredible opportunity to learn and further the success of my business.”
Don Demarest, Continental Collectibles: “After a Year and a half of Covid lock downs, the SBDC program was a bright spot. Incredibly, the course touches on everything I wish I had learned before I went into business. I would recommend these courses to anyone starting or in business, as they are worth thousands of dollars.”
Whitney Tatum, Overall Moving: “The Small Business Makeover Program has helped to legitimize our small business even more. It gave us a lot more clarity and direction in order to sustain the growth that has been happening within our company.”
The SBDC team also partnered with the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) for SBM participants to attend an online 6-week digital marketing training series. The ACA series was set up to assist businesses in strengthening their online presence, essential to the recovery and sustainability of businesses in a new economy.
“At the time we developed the program content , we knew we couldn’t just look at short-term revenue growth”, said Ruth Ellen Elinski, Business Analyst. “Given the trending needs of businesses at the time, it was important to facilitate a program that supports long term economic health for businesses. Consumer trends have changed, business trends have changed. The goal for this program has always been, and continues to be, to strengthen skills, to encourage strategic thinking, and to support diverse strategies – really empowering business owners for the overall health of their business going forward.”
The SBM Pilot program, funded by the CARES Act for one year, will be ending September 30, 2021. While the SBDC is not accepting new applications for the SBM Program at this time, the SBDC team welcomes new clients for no cost, confidential consulting from a team of experts ongoing throughout the year. The Yavapai College SBDC is funded in part by the Small Business Administration, with additional funding from Yavapai College.
You can register for services at yc.edu/sbdc or call the office directly at 928-717-7232 to make an appointment.