'Entrepreneur survival school,' other resources help Utahns grow their small businesses

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12 2014 3:00 a.m. MST

Meanwhile, for those who would like to make their entrepreneurial dream a reality, there are other resources.

In 2006, Zions Bank launched the Business Resource Center as a resource to provide free services to prospective entrepreneurs wanting to start a business. Since then, the center has aided more than 5,000 individuals with tools to help them create and launch new businesses or expand existing companies, explained director Beth Holbrook.

Of the clients served over seven years, the majority were startups while others were existing companies in need of business plan development, she said.

The center offers a publications library, business plan templates, computer workstations and staff to assist clients in their business endeavors, all at no cost. Beyond the brick-and-mortar location, the online center, utahsmallbusiness.com, offers articles, worksheets and tips for those interested in starting a business.

Holbrook said budding entrepreneurs, including those with home-based businesses, can get started with just a few steps:

• Have passion for your idea and make sure it will be competitive in your market.

• Identify and build clients even before you launch.

• Write a great business plan.

• Assemble a team of key advisors, including an accountant and lawyer.

• Explore funding from a variety of sources, including venture funding and Small Business Administration loans.

The center partners with organizations such as the Governor's Office of Economic Development, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Salt Lake Community College and the Greater Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce to offer seminars, workshops and business-networking opportunities, Holbrook said.

Capital provided through Zions Bank’s Small Business Administration loans in 2013 helped Utah businesses grow, enabling companies to hire 858 new employees and retain 1,732 positions, according to administration data.

“We know that people who are chasing their dreams of owning their own businesses need resources and support to succeed,” she said.

The three C's

For those in need of funding to help launch their idea or support their already existing venture, the U.S. SBA, online at sba.gov, has resources available, said regional administrator Matt Varilek.

“We have the three C’s, which are capital, counseling and contracting,” Varilek said. The agency can provide loan guarantees on small-business loans from local lending institutions to aid small enterprises that “are on the bubble” and want to obtain the necessary monies to fund their businesses. Many SBA loans are low-fee or no-fee, he added.

In Utah alone, the SBA issued nearly $400 million in guarantees last year, said district director Stan Nakano.

Confidential counseling from current entrepreneurs is available to prospective business owners, and there is an agency goal for at least 23 percent of goods and services to be purchased through small-business contracts, Varilek said.

“We have programs and experts who can guide small businesses through what can sometimes be a mysterious world of government contracting,” he said.

The agency has a commitment to provide assistance to startup and existing business owners who strive to build their business and move it forward, Nakano said.

"We are always trying to increase the ability of small businesses to gain access to capital," he said.

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