Center helps businesses start

Shawntaye Hopkins

An idea and a goal may lay the tracks, but a little help is needed to fuel the engine and start it running.

The Small Business and Development Center has been offering this help for twenty years.

SBDC offers one-on-one counseling and training to individuals interested in starting their own business. The center, located at the Carroll Knicely Institute for Economic Development Center, serves 11 Kentucky counties.

Director Rick Horn has worked at the center for 19 years. He said an average of two businesses a month are created with the help of SBDC, most often in sales and retail.

All counseling is free.

SBDC receives a grant from the Small Business Association. Western matches the grant money 50 cents to every dollar.

Clients receive counseling directly from Horn or an assistant.

Training sessions are also offered on topics such as how to start a business and business on the Internet. A small fee pays for the speakers at various sessions.

Horn said 50 percent of clients may decide they aren’t ready to start a business after going through counseling.

Jewell Argueta, owner of M.A.D. Fashions, decided she was ready.

M.A.D. Fashions, which stands for Mother and Daughter Fashions, opened Feb. 7 at 1337 31-W Bypass with the help of SBDC.

“(Horn) was very helpful,” said Argueta. “We would not have come as far as we have if Rick hadn’t have been there.”

Argueta went to SBDC after she mentioned starting a business to her husband. Her daughter suggested a clothing store which specialized in trendy clothing for high school and college students. They felt this would be something unique to Bowling Green.

“(Horn) thought it was a great idea,” Argueta said. “He started us on a business plan first.”

A business plan includes a cash flow projection, the name and type of business, a marketing strategy and a sales projection.

SBDC then assisted Argueta in getting a bank loan.

Argueta said she needed help the day she went to the bank. She called Horn in his office, not knowing school was closed. Even though he was not working, Horn was willing to help.

“It was very impressive to me that he took the time and went above and beyond his line of duty,” Argueta said.

Horn said Western students have also taken advantage of the center’s services. Due to the confidentiality of the program, he was unable to give any names.

“We have students who have done very successful things while students,” Horn said.

He said SBDC also offers advice to those already in business who may be looking to improve certain aspects of the their company.

The center’s public library offers publications, videos and demographic information about starting a business.

Argueta said she is pleased with business at M.A.D Fashions. She said she has not yet done much advertising because all the inventory is not in.

She said she had no idea where to start after she and her daughter developed the idea for the store. Then Argueta remembered hearing about SBDC through a friend. She thought starting there would be best, she said.

“If I hadn’t gone there, I probably still wouldn’t have gone into business,” Argueta said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]