The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides free one-on-one, confidential business consulting for existing and start-up business owners. Middle Georgia's 19-county outreach includes Baldwin County.
As part of UGA's Public Service and Outreach division, the SBDC is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the State of Georgia.
Business consultant Lisa Perry works out of Middle Georgia's Macon office but spends time at Milledgeville's Digital Bridges weekly. Perry is available on Wednesday's or other times by appointment.
The SBDC gels well with Digital Bridges non-profit outreach goals.
“I can do everything here that I can do in my Macon office,” Perry said. “Our mission is to educate small business owners. We want them to stay in business and be profitable.”
The small business helper offers expertise to help clients develop business plans, identify sources of capital, analyze financial records, conduct market research and operational diagnostic assessments. Perry's human resources background provides hiring advice as well.
Industry information and target market demographics can give clients an edge.
“We have access to research that small businesses don't have access to,” she said.
The SBDC walks consult clients through the lending process, which isn't easy. Misnomers about government start-up funds must be clarified.
“You have to have good credit and a plan together. There are few grant opportunities for small businesses,” Perry said. “That's one big misconception. They are few and far between.”
At least 75 percent of small businesses taking advantage of the free services are established. Perry said some clients have worked with her for seven years.
Business health checks make sure progressive growth continues.
“Even if you're in business, you need to set your goals high every year,” the local consultant said.