August 23, 2021 “You’ve already paid for the services that the SBDC offers through your taxes,” Michelle Somes-Booher, Director of the Wisconsin SBDC, pointed out during a recent Zoom meeting. “I encourage you to take advantage of them!” The SBDC, or Small Business Development Center, is run in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). America’s SBDC is actually a nationwide network of centers hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies and private partners. There are nearly 1,000 local centers providing no-cost business consulting and low-cost training to new and existing businesses. You can find the one nearest you by clicking on this link. You may have used the SBA to help you get financing from your local lender (we did). But many shopkeepers don’t realize that they can go to their local SBDCs for free face-to-face business consulting and at-cost training on a variety of topics. The courses and advice range from the start-up stage to retirement transitions. Our SBDC has developed an online course especially useful for those just starting out, and it’s available for free nationwide. If you know someone considering opening a shop or other business, have them take a look at First Steps. This free, interactive, online class helps participants explore their business idea and assess their entrepreneurial readiness. It also include tools to identify the budding entrepreneur’s strengths and weaknesses as a business owner. There are many ways in which the SBDC has helped independent retailers over the past 40 years, and the pandemic has made their services more necessary than ever. If you haven’t checked out what your SBDC has to offer, you may be missing out on assistance that can help your shop be more successful than ever. Happy Retailing, Carol “Orange” Schroeder Please note that there will not be a Specialty Shop Retailing blog next week.