by Colton Campbell
Some businesses have problems their owners don’t even know they have.
That’s where Todd Anduze and Cole Fannin, West Georgia’s local business diagnosticians, come in.
Anduze and Fannin are part of the UGA Small Business Development Center at the University of West Georgia. The UGA SBDCs, nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs, are funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), as well as the state and University System of Georgia.
A total of 17 SBDC offices – 11 of which aren’t on college campuses – cover Georgia. Together, those offices accounted for the launch of nearly 1,800 new businesses and the creation of more than 13,000 jobs over the last five years.
The UGA Small Business Development Center at the University of West Georgia offers confidential, one-on-one consulting at no cost. The UWG center covers a six-county territory in West Georgia that includes Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, Haralson, Heard and Polk counties.
“We are fully funded business consultants provided by the state to help Georgia businesses be successful,” said Anduze, who serves as the area director of the UWG center, which is housed in the Richards College of Business. “Whether it’s marketing, human resources variables, strategic planning or financial management, we are here to help businesses that are just starting out – and those who are already established – with everything from ‘A’ to ‘Z.’”
Anduze and Fannin work to dispel the myth that the SBDC is only for businesses that haven’t fully formed yet. Any small business – defined as an operation with fewer than 500 employees and less than $50 million in revenue – can take advantage of the services offered, regardless of the business’ age.
“The business owners really dictate the agenda for those consulting sessions,” Anduze said. “We can help them develop or update their business plans; for another we may be reviewing and analyzing their financial data or conducting operational diagnostic assessments. Whatever the business owners say they need, we can help them.”
“We can identify problems they don't know they have, and our consultations are typically
more comprehensive than what they initially expect,” said Fannin, a business consultant
with the UGA Small Business Development Center at UWG. “Our clients have goals just
like everyone else, and we’re here to ensure those goals are strategic and aligned
with growing their company’s success.”
Their consultations work. The central office reported that SBDC clients perform better than average Georgia businesses in areas of sales and employment growth.
“Last year, clients across the state who interfaced with an SBDC saw an average annual sales growth of more than 15 percent and grew employment by an average annual rate of more than 12 percent,” Anduze said.
The local SBDC’s mission aligns with that of UWG, as well: to be sought after as the best place to learn, work and succeed.
“If we can help our Georgia-grown businesses become more successful, that will create a better environment for our community, something from which all its residents will benefit,” Fannin said. “That will make not only the university, but also the communities it serves, better places to live and work.”
In 2017, the UGA SBDCs in Georgia consulted with nearly 4,000 clients and conducted training programs attended by more than 3,000 Georgians. Over the last five years, clients from all the state’s centers have made $9.9 billion in total sales in their businesses.
The UGA SBDCs have been in operation for more than 40 years. The network of partners
has helped construct a statewide ecosystem to foster the spirit, support and success
of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators, Anduze said.
“We are here to help make businesses healthier and their financial positions more sustainable,” Anduze said. “My job is awesome because I get to answer our clients’ questions and lead them down the right paths. Then, I can see them become and remain successful because they’ve gotten the help they needed.”
For more information on the UGA Small Business Development Center at UWG, visit www.westga.edu/academics/business/sbdc/index.php.