If you’re a local entrepreneur looking for free advice on how to start or grow your business, here’s an idea: make an appointment with the Snohomish County Small Business Development Center.
Jennifer Shelton is one of 30 business advisers at the Washington State Business Development Center, and her territory includes Edmonds, Lynnwood, and Mountlake Terrace. Local business owners who have worked with Shelton cannot say enough about the services provided by the center, which are almost all free.
âThis is one of the best resources available for small businesses,â said Julie Nealey, owner of Stella & Floyds Pet Care in Edmonds.
The Small Business Development Center operates through Washington State University, Western Washington University, several state community and technical colleges, and selected economic development agencies. Because consulting services are funded by the Small Business Administration of the United States as well as participating colleges and agencies, they are provided to businesses at no cost. (Small fees may apply for specialized training, outside services, or materials.)
In addition, strict conflict of interest policies prohibit advisers from benefiting from the advice they provide. Shelton, who holds an MBA from Western Washington University, also has certifications in sales and marketing and professional coaching. Business owners say his help has been a huge part of their success.
âJennifer introduced us to essential tools for starting a business, such as business plans and mapping business goals,â said Alaa Al-Jelaihawi, co-owner of Edmonds-based Dave’s Towing and Transport with her father Aref Al-Jelaihawi and his brother Safaa. “She made us think about what we want for the future and how we can get there, besides defining what we actually do and what our mission is.”
Karissa Breshear, CEO of Gourmet Latte, which has three locations in Lynnwood, said the Small Business Development Center worked with her to formulate her company’s mission / vision statement and also helped develop her organizational operations.
âThey’ve helped me organize better not only with my own vendors ensuring that I get the most for my dollar, but also the best of who and what,â said Breshear, who founded Gourmet. Latte after being fired from Boeing 21 years ago. Since opening its first coffee stand in Lynnwood in 1995, Breshear’s business has grown to include 134 employees and 16 locations, with two more planned by the end of 2016.
âIt was surprising how much writing down what our business was helped us see it clearly,â added Alaa Al-Jelaihawi of Dave’s Towing and Transport. âWe work day and night and are experts at what we do, but seeing it written in words has given us another perspective. “
With Shelton’s help, the Al-Jelaihawi family hatched a plan to hire employees for their car haulage business, which hauls used vehicles for dealerships and auctions in western Washington. They also prepared a balance sheet for the first time and created a corporate website – davestransport.com – said Al-Jelaihawi.
Another company that has benefited from the expertise of the Small Business Development Center is The Workshop, a health and fitness studio expanding this summer at Edmonds’ Salish Crossing.
The workshop is the brainchild of two women – Kim Engelke of Edmonds Pilates in The Village and Katie Kahumoku of True Form Day Spa in Mountlake Terrace – who decided to combine their distinct businesses and talents into one place on the front. of Edmonds Sea. The workshop, scheduled to open on July 16, will offer classes and workouts in classic Pilates, crossfit with an emphasis on adapted athletics, group fitness classes, and massage and fitness services. skin care.
According to Engelke, the Small Business Development Center helped the company with its financial analysis for easier review by banks, and helped edit and refine The Workshop’s business plan to improve the potential of loan offerings.
âI firmly believe that no one knows everything there is to know about business,â Engelke said. “It is always beneficial to speak with specialists for help.”
Julie Nealey described how Shelton helped her “set priorities, create realistic goals based on my hard financial data, and complete my business plan.” Working with business students at Washington State University, Shelton compiled an 18-page document with comprehensive data and demographics on all pet owners in the area, Nealey said.
Jennifer Shelton gave the following advice to those considering seeking help from the center:
- Ideally, you should either have a strong business or business idea that you are pursuing or a business that you would like to buy.
- Before meeting with your advisor, think about what you want to get out of your meeting. What questions do you have? What would you like help with?
- Consider what attracted you to the company you work for or are considering? What are your business and quality of life goals?
To make an appointment, you can contact Shelton by phone at 425-640-1435 or by email at [email protected]
– By Teresa Wippel