There's nothing worse than feeling alone and helpless, cast adrift on a sea of trouble.
And there's nothing better than, just when you think you're about to be swamped by the next wave, having someone toss a life ring and you're saved. Wheeeeew!
It's a combination of feelings that many small-business owners understand well. Panic when things turn bad. Exhilaration when someone comes to the rescue.
As National Small Business Week draws to a close, we salute the first-responders to small-business emergencies.
They are the advocates and unflappable advisers who guide entrepreneurs through tough times, who help them avoid or undo mistakes, who are cheerleaders and champions paving the way for success.
Without the sure-handed guidance of consultants at Small Business Development Centers, the Small Business Assistance Office, the SBA, SCORE, and a slew of nonprofit and private-sector organizations many small businesses throughout Minnesota would fail or suffer needless setbacks.
Here are just a few folks who deserve some special recognition.
Ruth Ann Karty, a consultant at the SBDC at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, has been a tireless advocate for small businesses in her region for more than 25 years.
Access to cash is the lifeblood of any business. But during the recession, that cash and credit were in short supply. Karty’s clients found it increasingly difficult to raise the capital necessary to start, operate and grow.
She decided to reach out to partners and find creative ways to improve the flow of capital to area entrepreneurs. In doing so, Karty helped develop some new and effective ways to help small businesses address their financing needs.
Karty cultivates and keeps strong relationships with area lenders of all kinds. She keeps them updated on new information, programs, and seminars that may benefit them or their customers.
And she's a font of information for the business community, providing valuable seminars on a sweeping array of business topics. And she's a vocal advocate in government and private sector forums on small business issues and concerns.
Karty has been named Minnesota Financial Services Champion of the Year by the SBA. The award is presented to individuals who assist small businesses through advocacy efforts to increase the usefulness and availability of accounting or financial services.
Minneapolis Attorney Tim Connelly is a service-disabled veteran whose law practice focuses on the needs of small, medium and large businesses seeking to win government contracts.
He has helped veterans establish businesses in the construction, manufacturing and services industries, including helping them navigate the often daunting certification requirements of state and federal agencies and programs.
Connelly counsels businesses in establishing teaming arrangements and subcontracting relationships with other businesses. He advises veteran-owned businesses on compliance with government contract performance requirements, including limitation of subcontracting restrictions applicable to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and terms and conditions of government prime contracts and subcontracts.
Several of Connelly’s veteran-owned business clients have grown from one-person startups into multi-million dollar revenue concerns performing government contracts across the United States.
Connelly is an active supporter of legislative and regulatory reform to improve government contracting opportunities for veteran-owned businesses at the state and federal level, testifying before legislative bodies and authoring legislation and policy recommendations.
He served as an active duty Army lawyer for 20 years. The experience allows him to see government contract transactions and disputes with a unique perspective – having represented parties on both sides of a typical government contract award challenge, performance issue or dispute.
Connelly has been named Veteran Small Business Champion by the SBA. The award is presented to individuals who have shown commitment to advancing small business opportunities for U.S. military veterans.
For nearly 18 years, Jan Jordet has been dedicated to the establishment and growth of minority-owned business enterprises statewide and helping entrepreneurs of color succeed. She's convinced that developing strong businesses that create quality jobs is key to overcoming poverty and racial economic disparities in Minnesota.
As senior director of consulting and financing services at the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, she was a leader in bringing government agencies together to address obstacles and streamline the certification process for minority business enterprises.
She was instrumental in tripling the lending capital managed by MEDA to provide financing for MBEs that may not be bankable under traditional guidelines. By working together with area banks and using the services of the SBA, MEDA has been able to leverage its own capital by 5:1. A record $27 million in financing was closed last year.
Under Jordet’s leadership, MEDA successfully won accreditation as a Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S. Department of Treasury. The CDFI Fund grant, coupled with a variety of other financing sources, helps MEDA mitigate banking risks and introduces MEDA clients as new customers to mainstream banking.
Jordet has been named has been named the Minority Small Business Champion by the SBA. The award is presented to individuals who help small business through outstanding advocacy efforts on behalf of minority-owned small businesses.
President of Minneapolis-based On-Demand Services Group, Inc., Heather Manley is a strong and vocal supporter of women business owners statewide.
She has helped breathe new life into the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, recruiting new leaders and helping to reestablish the organization as an important networking and support venue for Minnesota’s women business owners.
Manley also helps advance the economic development interests and opportunities for women business owners in Minnesota through her involvement with the Women’s Small Business Development Center, where she provides programming advice and gives presentations to women business owners on how to grow their companies by making effective business inroads in corporate America and government.
Manley is the founder of Women Executives in Minnesota, a group for female executives in the public, private and nonprofit sectors who want to share their experience and expertise with each other.
Manley has been named the Women in Business Champion by the SBA. The award is presented to individuals who have shown commitment to advancing women’s business ownership.