This month, we spoke with Christina Moffatt, business owner and Regional Director of the Mid Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) about free tools and counseling available to small business owners.
Small businesses, like those found in Adel, are the backbone of the American economy. Local shop owners know the challenges of running a high-quality business that meets customer demands and helps drive community growth.
Did you know small businesses (defined as 500 or fewer employees) account for more than 97% of all employers in Iowa?
In fact, Iowa ranks #2 in the Midwest for entrepreneurial activity per capita, according to the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Index.
Christina Moffat knows what it takes to create a business from the ground up. Christina began with the idea of selling deluxe cupcakes to adults, an idea that at the time had not yet reached Des Moines.
Ultimately, she hoped to open a dessert bar- an upscale eatery featuring designer drinks and decadent desserts. But Christina wasn’t sure how to proceed, or if the idea would make enough money to let her quit her day job.
Determined to find out what it would take to make her dream a reality, she contacted the SBDC.
With their guidance and networking opportunities, Christina was able to navigate the startup phase of her business and open Crème Cupcakes in downtown Des Moines.
During the first few years, Christina continued to work with the SBDC counselors to help make hiring decisions, expansion plans, and eventually open her Dessert Lounge.
She gave credit to the SBDC for her success and acted as an unofficial ambassador to the program. Now that Crème Cupcakes is running on its own steam, Christina has joined the SBDC to help fellow entrepreneurs learn how they can improve their business.
The SBDC offers free, customized advice that spans many different topics including business planning, financing opportunities, cash flow projections, market research, business succession strategies, export assistance, and more.
There are three resource channels or partners. SCORE is a nonprofit association of thousands of retired executives and volunteers, trained to serve as advisors, mentors, and cheerleaders to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners.
SBDC provides clients with projects, or homework, that can help existing businesses and start-ups accomplish specific goals. Counseling hours are unlimited, serving the entire life cycle of the business. In addition, the SBDC can connect you with an Accountant to provide 5 hours of assistance helping with cash flow, Quick Books set up, or general guidance.
The Women Business Center offers classes and information to help organize finances and improve credit scores for everyone, regardless of gender.
In the past year, the Iowa SBDC has helped more than 860 clients who created more than 275 new businesses and 1689 new jobs across the state, generating more than $68 million in sales increases! The Des Moines regional office has helped infuse nearly $8 million of capital into the central Iowa economy alone.
This success is due in part to access to detailed demographic databases that can help paint a picture of local spending habits, age, interests, and more.
“We also have the Business Reference Guide that tells us for every single industry, every single year, what the expected profits could be, estimated labor costs, overhead, marketing expenses, your depreciation expenses. We can build a pretty accurate cash flow specifically for each industry, even specific franchises.”
“The first thing we do is gather permission to counsel you. Visit www.IowaSBDC.org and click ‘Request Counseling’ to give a synopsis of what you’re looking for. Then, we schedule an appointment with a general counselor to take the first initial meeting and find out what you need. From then on, we would refer you on to a different counselor to get your needs met.”
In addition to working directly with owners, the SBDC also enjoys working with Economic Development groups, Chambers, and City governments to further provide classes and services within local communities.
The Small Business Development Center is the prime resource for anyone who dreams of being self-employed. Christina is excited to share her experience, know-how, and counseling connections throughout central Iowa.
The best advice Christina can give? “Come in and talk to us. We’ve heard everything- nothing surprises us. How do you know your idea will work, or will not work, until you talk about it?”
“I think of our economy and I think how great it would be if everybody unchained themselves from their desks. If we make a plan, you’re a fighter, and you know you can do it, it might be the opportunity to do it!”