Small Business Development Center awarded most innovative
The Small Business Development Center (SBCD) at Southeast was awarded the Center Most Innovative Award from the University of Missouri Extension Business Development Program (BDP) on Jan. 30.
Southeast's business development center was selected out of 12 other centers statewide associated with BDP for extensive changes made to the center and the way it operates.
“This is an internal award to help appreciate and show appreciation to those in the networking centers like ours who are taking the lead to create change and improve what we do,” Southeast’s SBDC director Jakob Pallesen said.
SBCD is a statewide network that helps businesses or people thinking about starting a business in such areas as marketing strategy planning, business and financial planning, market research, financial assessment and idea and concept development.
Pallesen said their center is unique because it is located within the university. While they work for the university, their main focus is external. They don’t work directly with students on campus, but they do find the importance in helping students who are looking for opportunities to start their own businesses.
“If you want to start a business, it doesn't matter if you are a student or not. We want to support students as well because we understand the potential in student entrepreneurship,” Pallesen said.
Pallesen said SBDC has students who are clients and student workers. The student workers do consulting and market business research projects for businesses.
SBDC also deals with bigger projects by getting involved in classroom projects. They focus on marketing and graphic-design collaborations between both marketing and graphic-design classes and businesses they work with. The students taking the classes create marketing strategies and graphic-design material for those businesses.
Pallesen said there are small businesses doing great things, and they want to help connect the dots between students and future employers.
“If the students don’t know that they are there, they aren’t going to apply for jobs and if they companies don’t know what the students can do here, they’re not going to look at SEMO for a pool of future employees,” Pallesen said.
The SBDC at Southeast has been working to make some of its internal processes more effective for themselves and students.
Pallesen said the training process was generic and didn’t have much of an impact on people. So the center redeveloped several training methods and developed some new ones that have been put to the test.
“We’ve been very active and trying to figure out what is it that you as a business owner can really benefit from,” Pallesen said. “Let's put together a training that actually allows you to learn something and walk away with something useful, and not just theory.”
Pallesen said the center has made the counseling process more precise and effective.
“When someone comes to us we identify what we really need to help them with and what we can help them with and getting the process going, so when someone comes we actually know we are helping and they are benefiting from us,” Pallesen said.
He said they have been looking into new tools and resources that could better benefit clients, which the center had not done previously.
Pallesen thinks that’s something they should have improved on sooner.
Pallesen said the centers staff has received a lot of certifications and participated in a lot of professional development and training to make sure they are providing all the services clients need.
Pallesen was recognized for having the highest number of counseling hours along with Kayla Ray, business development associate at Southeast’s SBDC.
They were in the top five for the Missouri SBDC in counseling hours.
Pallesen and Ray have been working together to help improve the SBDC. Pallesen believes their willingness to promote change is the reason they were awarded.
Pallesen said their main focus is on the center and looking to see how they can do their jobs better.
Ray believes they were awarded because they are a two-person center.
Pallesen said most centers have three or four people that work full time or part time and have a lot of experience. Pallesen and Ray serve 19 counties full time, along with their dealings with students at the university.
“In the past, this center did not meet the goals," Pallesen said. "They struggled quite a bit, and that's one of the reasons we’ve improved the process and our network collaborations and partnered with people on the ground in the different communities.”
Pallesen and Ray encourage students to reach out if they are interested in starting up a business.
Their office is located on 920 Broadway and can be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org.