By Megan Neary | Correspondent

Small businesses can learn with hands-on work of SBDC

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs helps small business owners to learn the valuable skills that will help them to grow their businesses and reach their goals.

With one-on-one advising, training, and other services, the SBDC is making a valuable commitment to the growth of the small business community in Lancaster.

Vonnie McDonald is one of the many individuals who has benefited from these services.

She opened the doors of her State Farm agency in January 2016. With a desire to make her agency a true success, McDonald was determined to take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about running a small business.

“I initially accessed the Small Business Development Center via the Chamber, specifically around the courses they were offering,” she said. After ta king a few courses which McDonald said were very helpful, she began attending one-on~one business advising sessions with Erin Gibson, a Certified Business Advisor with the Small Business Development Center.

Gibson advised McDonald on many aspects of operating her agency, including working with McDonald as she “developed plans around attracting and retaining talent,” said McDonald. “Erin has been very helpful as a thinking partner,” she said. “As a business consultant she sees a lot of different businesses at various levels of success and maturity and can bring those insights to me,” she added.

Gibson said the SBDC plays an important role in “really being able to help the economies develop of the communities we’re serving.” “These businesses, in turn, turn around and help the communities they serve,” she added.

“Small businesses are the heart of the business community.” said Gibson.

With her focus on business insurance, McDonald deals with many local small businesses, and she’s committed to doing her part to help them to succeed. To her, that means more than just maintaining her “commitment to the customer and to delivering on the promise.”

It also means doing everything she can to see to it that these small business owners are aware of the many resources that are available to them. “I find that people have no idea. They just don’t know what resources are available. Sometimes, we’re unknowingly delaying our own growth just due to a lack of knowledge,” she said.

To increase the knowledge of available resources in the small business community, McDonald has taken to sharing all of the resources she comes across on a Small Business Forum Facebook page. The page can be found through McDonald’s Vonnie McDonald State Farm Agent Facebook page.

McDonald plans to continue to advocate for the local small business community. After all, she understands the desire to want to build something for oneself and the obstacles that can make doing so very difficult.

Her inspiration for opening her own State Farm agency was the birth of her son and the resulting realization that she “wanted to be in a position to build something that’s bigger than myself and that impacts more than just me and my family.”

For those who are already on their way to building their own business or those who are just getting started, McDonald recommends they visit the SBDC. “I’m very much a fan of the small business centers and the services they offer,” she said.

First Quarter – 2018