Four Questions with Catherine Grooms

Catherine Grooms is the executive director of the Small Business Development Center, which is a communitywide resource located on College of the Canyons’ Valencia campus, in the Dianne G. Van Hook University Center.

The SBDC is the largest service program for the federal government’s Small Business Administration, and the center “provides high quality business and economic development assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs,” according to the organization’s website. “We provide no-cost business advising and low-cost training to existing and new businesses.”

Q: The Small Business Development Center offers a myriad of resources — how would you describe what the SBDC is for the business community in 3-4 sentences?

A: The SBDC is an SBA Technical Resource Partner for entrepreneurs and business owners to access a team of professional business advisors to help start and grow businesses with a positive impact to the local economy.  We are available to meet in person at our locations (SCV, SFV, AV), client locations, via telephone and virtually.

The COC SBDC specialties include international trade, technology, entertainment & arts, fashion, food, specialty food, restaurants, Ecommerce, manufacturing, contracting and certifications.  Areas of expertise include start-ups, business/strategic planning, business modeling, access to capital, sales and marketing, public relations, finance, accounting, budgeting, financial and cash flow analysis, financial projections, strategy, management, operations, etc.

Q: Is there any advice you could offer to someone starting a business that would apply to a business owner, regardless of industry, who’s just starting out — something maybe not everyone would realize, based on what you’ve seen through the center’s programs and outreach?

A: Someone starting a business should consider the following:

  • Make sure that you are passionate about the new business;
  • be realistic about the time impact of the new business on your life;
  • be aware that for many the first customer is difficult to attract;
  • know that it’s okay to ask for help;
  • know that it’s okay to fail, but try to limit the time and money investment;
  • be ready for a “no,” and less support than you expected;
  • be flexible on your path in the new business;
  • and, ask yourself: “Will my life be the same if I don’t move forward with the business?” Life is not about regrets.

Q: Could you share an example of a success story from the SBDC, and how the center was able to assist the business?

A: It wouldn’t be fair to highlight just one business as a success story.  We work with thousands of businesses, and a success story is when our guidance helps to start a new business, create a job for an owner and others, continue to support jobs created, impact sales growth, increase capital, promote and support innovation, improve local economies and more.

Q: We know the SBDC helps businesses in multiple stages of development, but based on the clients the center supports, in which sectors are you seeing a lot of growth for new businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley?

A: Our SBDC client base is reflective of the local economies in the Santa Clarita Valley, San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley.

Growth for new businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley continues in technology, entertainment and the arts, health care, global trade and e-commerce.

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