Business feature: Center helps small businesses

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo As the director of the Small Business Development Center at Clovis Community College, Sandra Taylor-Sawyer conducts seminars on topics helping business owners and those thinking about starting a business such as accounting, marketing and employees, rules

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

When Dr. Jayashree Sinha decided she wanted to start a medical practice, a friend suggested going to the Small Business Development Center at Clovis Community College.

Sinha studied medicine in India and came to the U.S. in 1996. She moved to Clovis in 2002, where she practiced medicine with a firm for about a year before deciding to go out on her own.

Even with knowledge of the business side of the practice, she needed help when it came to opening her own business.

Sinha said the SBDC and Director Sandra Taylor-Sawyer helped her figure out her expected overhead, how many employees she would need, job descriptions and salaries.

“They were very helpful. They knew where I would run into problems,” Sinha said.

Taylor-Sawyer said helping small businesses flourish is important.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our nation. We’ve seen that over and over again,” she said.

Seventy to 80 percent of the advising done by the SBDC staff is given through one-on-one business advising. Seminars and resources and referrals are other services.

“There is a lot of information between these walls,” Taylor-Sawyer said.

The SBDC is celebrating its 20th year of offering free business advising, training, education, resource materials and referrals for anyone interested in beginning, improving or expanding a small business in Curry, De Baca and Roosevelt counties.

Taylor-Sawyer has been with the center since 1991 and took over as director in 1996.

The center in Clovis is staffed by Taylor-Sawyer, Johnnie Loadwick, Gordon Smith and Dianna Thompson. Between the them, they offer more than 75 years of business experience.

The staff suggests attending a pre-venture seminar to start. Individuals also fill out a seven-page questionnaire, which the SBDC studies prior to a one-on-one meeting.

From there, the SBDC can help the individual write a business plan, proposals, marketing plans, figure out employee taxes and gross receipts tax and more.

Taylor-Sawyer said some of the most common questions the center gets are what paperwork is needed to license a business, how to apply for financing, and if there is grant money available from the government.

“We can help with most of that. Free money from the government is limited,” Taylor-Sawyer said.

The center also provides seminars in accounting, marketing and employees and rules and regulations.

Some of the resources the center offers are databases, which are expensive for a small businesses and software that is available for individuals to use if they can’t purchase them.

The center also offers referrals to other professionals, who can help in more specific areas, such as legal questions or businesses interested in working with the government.

The center is hoping to employ a procurement agent to help businesses that want to work with the governement.

Information: 575.769.4136, sbdc@clovis.edu or clovis.edu/sbdc

By the numbers

Capital Formation which includes loans and owners investments

1996-2007 — $19.1 million

2008 — $1.59 million

Clients counseled for the same time period

1996-2007 — 2,204

2008 — 178

Seminars

1996-2007 — 295

2008 — 41

The New Mexico Small Business Development Center numbers for July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008

Capital formation – $33,188,015

Jobs created – 748

Jobs saved