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Small Business Enterprise Centre

One of Huron’s Best Kept Secrets

Alison Lobb and the Small Business Enterprise Centre in Seaforth are here to help your business grow and prosper.

(pdf version of this article)

The Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) in Seaforth is one of the best resources in the County for entrepreneurs, business owners and students. Sponsored by the County of Huron and the Ministry of Economic Development & Trade, SBEC offers consultations, resource books, workshops and advice on marketing and funding.

SBEC started in the basement of the Clinton Library in the mid 1990s and has since moved into the Huron Business Centre at 138 Main Street, Seaforth. Alison Lobb has been a Business Consultant with SBEC for almost a decade.

Lobb’s confidential consultations are free. “Majority of people I talk to are thinking about starting a business,” says Lobb, “business owners will come in asking if their ideas will work.” Lobb will review business ideas with you and can help create a detailed business plan if you’re in the early stages. If you’re looking for ways to improve or expand your current business, Lobb is here to help.

“I’m sure we have the best library in the County for business resource books,” says Lobb. The library is full of books for your business; how to start a business; how to run a business; marketing ideas, how to motivate your employees – hundreds of topics related to business. Books can be signed out just like at a library. SBEC and the Huron Business Development Corporation, a Community Futures organization, buy books for the library so there is always something new and the information is up-to-date. There are also 25 to 50 workshops hosted each year by SBEC. Workshops, which are mostly held in the evening, have experts touch on topics such as marketing, tax returns and other ideas for business owners and those looking to start up a business.

The Huron Small Business Enterprise Centre partners with community organizations such as the Huron Business Development Corporation, the Goderich Chamber of Commerce, the Green Jobs Strategy and the Federation of Agriculture. These partnerships make it possible to deliver events throughout the year, including the Bridges to Better Business with the Goderich Chamber, the Energy Expo and an Information Day with Network Huron partners. One of the SBEC’s own events is Huron Women in Networking (HWIN). It’s a night for business women across the County to get together, share ideas and stories, eat a delicious dinner and win prizes!

SBEC offers programs for students who are interested in starting their own business – the Summer Company Program. Students between the ages of 15 and 29, who are returning to school in the fall are encouraged to try this 8 to 12 week program. Each participant can earn up to $1,500 for start-up expenses and if successful in completing the program, they could receive another $1,500 “The program isn’t based on how much money they make,” says Lobb, “it’s based on their active participation.”

“Put it on paper,” is Lobb’s advice for business owners looking to make a change, “make a list of what works and what doesn’t.” Lobb suggests businesses think about their target market, “then design a marketing strategy for the target market. Why should consumers support your business?”

If you’re thinking about starting a new business, Lobb suggests researching the demand for the product or service you’ll be offering. “If there’s no demand, it doesn’t matter if you have best product in the world,” says Lobb, “if no one wants to buy it, you’re not going to be in business long.”

In the future, Lobb hopes to expand the Small Business Enterprise Centre services and has already partnered with the Goderich Chamber to deliver services from their Goderich office twice a month. This allows Lobb to help more people in a larger area. She also plans on broadening the workshop series – more topics and more local speakers.

Lobb enjoys shopping locally, “I really like to see our businesses up and running and full and vibrant – if we don’t shop local that’s not going to happen.” She also says she likes the variety throughout the County, “We have unique things you can’t find in the cities and we should take advantage of that.”

For everything business in Huron County, visit the Small Business Enterprise Centre at 138 Main Street, Seaforth. www.smallbusinesshuron.ca

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