Robin Burtner has been with the Shippensburg University SBDC since its founding. In 2014, she was named the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers State Star of the Year.
Q: How has the Shippensburg SBDC grown since its founding in 2007?
A: The SBDC has continued to offer the basic core services that are fundamental — general business consulting and specialized consulting that includes government contracting, technology commercialization, international and environmental. We have expanded our specialized services to include business continuity. Plus, our international and export assistance has expanded to all 18 centers in Pennsylvania. All consulting and research assistance continues to be at no cost.
Since the opening, we have worked with 1,800 clients in our territory. That includes pre-venture and established businesses. We have recorded 21,972 hours of consulting with the clients. We provide workshops that are free or low cost and range from startup to marketing and accounting. Since we have opened our center, we have offered 329 classes. Our market research and information service continues to be strong due to the databases our network and university subscribe to.
If someone is starting out with an idea for a business, how do you guide them and which resources do you recommend they start with?
Startup assistance and business plan development are the most requested needs. We assist with the research of their idea or product to determine if there is a need for the product or service, research demographics of that market, strengths of the industry, competition, special licenses or permits, marketing, cost to start the business and financing.
We suggest they attend our First Step workshop and get set up in our consulting services to really examine their idea, feasibility, plan and financials. I thoroughly enjoy the job, because I get to help educate and prepare aspiring or current business owners for their next step. It is a wonderful thing to see someone grow from an idea to an established business and you helped guide them.
How can established small businesses benefit from the resources the SBDC offers?
Established businesses can benefit from our growth services. This includes entering a new market, like government contracting or international.
Business plans, financials and research will need to be completed when contemplating on entering a new market. I can assist with preliminary research for a company on whether they are ready to export and potential countries.
Also, existing businesses benefit from our environmental consultants on permits and regulations. In our office, we have an environmental consultant that is funded by the DEP to provide regulation and permitting assistance to businesses in Pennsylvania.