Following a dream? Small Business Development Center can help

Have you ever dreamed of starting a small business, but weren’t quite sure how to start?

Growing a business can be challenging, but fortunately there are free resources like the Small Business Development Center designed to help you.

We recently sat down with Michael Wampler, the Northwest Iowa SBDC director, to learn more about the services offered by the SBDC.

Wampler joined the Iowa Lakes and SBDC team July 1, 2017. He earned a master’s degree in entrepreneurship from the Oklahoma State University, where he also taught several classes. Most recently, he taught business classes and assisted with business development at Indian Hills Community College. He’s getting acquainted with clients, financial advisors and other economic developers to provide assistance as individuals across the 10 county region he serves prepare to open their doors, or expand their business focus.

Tell us a little about America’s Small Business Development Center.

Wampler:  The SBDC provides support to both new and existing small business owners.  We work with entrepreneurs starting with just an idea, all the way up to established businesses with up to 500 employees.

We help with business planning, cash flow projections, buying or selling a business, etc. Although we don’t directly provide business funding, the SBDC can better prepare you for a visit to a bank or other lender.

Our office is hosted by Iowa Lakes and is based in Spencer, but we serve Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Kossuth, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, and Sioux counties.  SBDCs are a nationwide initiative, so if you live outside our area we can help connect you to your local SBDC office.

What led you to become a regional SBDC Director?

Wampler: Having grown up in a family of entrepreneurs, I’ve always been fascinated with the tenacity of small business owners and the challenges they face. This led me to choose entrepreneurship as a field of study, and I’ve been teaching entrepreneurship in colleges and universities for the past several years.

It’s very rewarding to be able to directly assist business owners through the counseling and outreach work of the SBDC.

What interesting things have you noticed as a newcomer to northwest Iowa?

Wampler: Northwest Iowa has all the pieces needed for a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem. There are active economic development groups, bankers willing to lend, locally managed revolving loan funds, and educational institutions providing quality entrepreneurial training.

Iowa Lakes has the Tietz Entrepreneurial Center in Algona which is a great asset. The programming offered through the Tietz Center is focused on education as individuals explore product development, marketing strategies, or vet their ideas through a discovery process. We’re fortunate to have a number of retired entrepreneurs in this area eager to share their wisdom and mentor aspiring business owners.

All these pieces come together as a network of services, and I’m excited to lead SBDCs efforts in this region.

For more information about the SBDC, please contact us at 712-262-4213 or mwampler@iowalakes.educreate new email.

For More Information:

Iowa Lakes marketing office at 712-362-7944