SEFP offers help to businesses

Dawn Rye | Writer 

Someone looking to start their own business knows a lot can go wrong if they don’t take the proper steps. Much of what determines a business’s longevity is a result of the planning process, before the business even opens the doors. 

Fortunately, Southeast Enterprise Facilitation Project (SEFP) is available locally to help someone take steps to provide their company with a better chance of success. 

In 1996 a planning committee from Turner, McCook and Hutchinson Counties gathered together to implement the Ernesto Sirolli philosophy. Ernesto Sirolli is a noted authority in the field of sustainable economic development and is the founder of the Sirolli Institute, an international non-profit organization that teaches community leaders how to establish and maintain enterprise facilitation projects in their community. From this planning committee arose the beginnings of the Southeast Enterprise Facilitation Project.

The goal of SEFP is to promote entrepreneurship and empower individuals to fulfill their dreams.

Current SEFP Facilitator, Brenda Schultz, explained that her job varies with each client and that she sometimes goes above and beyond her job title if it helps the client succeed. SEFP works closely with the SBA’s Office of Small Business Development Center and also provides a packet to individuals to assist them in starting their business. 

Among her many duties, Schultz helps to create a business plan. A business plan is the foundation to build the remainder of the business so that is will be structurally and financially sound.

When Schultz meets with a client, she visits with them to find out their idea and how they want to proceed with the idea. Most of the clients have ideas, but don’t know how to get a business started.

Schultz begins by asking questions about what the client has done so far in the process. How much money is it going to take? Do they have a building? Do they have financing? Do they have support? What is their credit score?

All these questions help her move forward when drafting a business plan. The body of the business plan generally stays the same. It’s the finances that are continually changing.

She notes the idea for their business and what they want to accomplish, how many employees they will hire, and provides them with marketing research and competition research to see possible cash flow.

SEFP has also promoted a “Shop Local” campaign since 2014. The idea is to help area communities enjoy and utilize the small businesses they have by buying their products and services. Many small businesses are now also operating online and are trying a new way to meet their customer’s needs and keep themselves solvent. Schultz stated that in 2021 small companies opening online stores have become the forefront of the “Shop Local” campaign.

Countryside Impressions, located in Parker, offers country style décor, jewelry, knives, Salt Water Taffy, hunting, fishing souvenirs and First Responder merchandise. 

Owner Jason Kleinsasser said SEFP helped with answering questions about what steps it takes to reach your goals. Getting the business plan laid out and ready for a bank loan was also helpful.  They also helped in visiting with the Small Business Administration to crunch the numbers. 

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