When he isn’t serving as Columbia’s Ward 5 city councilman, Danny Coleman works as a consultant for the Tennessee Small Business Development Center and is reaching out to help area businesses grow.
The TSBDC is a network of consultants, which act as matchmaker for small business owners when it comes to topics ranging from applying for a loan or grant to marketing and building a business plan.
Coleman will hold a free virtual seminar at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 25.
The event, which is free to attend, is being organized in partnership with the Maury Chamber & Economic Alliance. To register, visit Maury Alliance’s website or call (931) 388-2155.
“The reality is that whatever problem is facing your small business, the TSBDC can help. It’s all about us having that contact with you in the first place, lets us learn about your situation, and then we can connect you with the right resources to guide you to the right process and steps,” Coleman said.
“Anyone who owns or is looking to own a small business should work with us, use our free services and show up. If your small business is struggling, with whatever it might be, let’s talk and let’s figure something out.”
Topics Coleman plans to cover include a list of available resources for small businesses. He also hopes to connect with as many local business owners by providing one-on-one communication to better understand the big issues facing small businesses in 2021.
“The presentation is an overview of everything the TSBDC does,” Coleman said. “We offer a ton of resources, and everything we do is free. It’s helping people write business plans to help their business come to life, help them secure funding. We provide market research, and have access to a lot of data hubs.”
One of the biggest issues he sees with self-starters is financing, whether it is securing funding or formulating a long-term spending plan. After all, starting a small business often means doing everything yourself, and it’s not like everyone possesses the skills to be their own accountant.
“Having a business plan is really the crux of everything. You can’t really get a loan without a business plan,” Coleman said. “You can always crowd fund and do it yourself, but lenders really want to see a business plan. Helping you put that business plan together is the first step towards expanding your business.”
The service, although free, is only available to businesses who qualify following an in-depth analysis and application process. However, Coleman said he can’t recall a time when a business was turned away, or didn’t come away with a better understanding of its next step forward.
“We do have to qualify you, have to show that your financials aren’t that you’re pretty much a ‘sunk boat,’ because sometimes that’s a hard conversation when the best thing to do would be to let this business go,” Coleman said.
The TSBDC is an organization which uses taxpayer dollars to filter funding back into the community.
“There is so much that’s offered, and that’s what we’re funding, what taxpayers are paying for, and so that’s what’s so important about these consultants,” Coleman said. “Everyone’s situation is different … and you have so much variety when it comes to a small business, that you kind of need a generalist, which is what TSBDC consultants are.”
The SBDC has centers in every state in the U.S., with Tennessee’s headquarters located at Middle Tennessee State University’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business. Coleman said he hopes Columbia could one day operate as a full-time TSBDC satellite center, given the growth small businesses have contributed to the local economy.