Columbia business resource preps aspiring entrepreneurs.

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COLUMBIA - Columbia is one of the top locations to start a small business, according to a 2016 Forbes list of small cities in the nation.

"There is a thriving business scene,” Soo Koon Lee, business development specialist at the Small Business and Technology Development Center, said.

The Small Business and Technology Development Center is an advisory service group funded by state grants, which falls underneath the University of Missouri Extension.

“We help entrepreneurs with low-cost training, connecting them to other resources that will help their business, and through one-on-one, no-cost consulting,” Lee said.  

"Starting a Business: The First Steps" is the next low-cost training course the center will offer on Tuesday.

"People who sign up for the class will know what they need to do to start a business,” Lee said. “What licenses they need to get, think about the startup costs that are required to get that business running before it’s even pulling in revenue, as well as thinking about marketing."

The SBTDC’s overall purpose for the course is to help business owners build confidence.

“One goal is to give them the information needed to help them confidently move forward in terms of establishing their business and to know that there are resources out there so they’re not alone,” she said.

About 80 percent of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce members are smaller businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Lee continues to consult with established businesses like these by using a three-step process.

“I want to know what’s their background, how long they’ve been in business, and then from there what are are there primary concerns, so I can just think about how the SBTDC can be of assistance to them,” Lee said.  

No matter how differentiated businesses may be, Lee makes sure they understand one lesson.

“I’ve had clients come in with a variety of ideas, and the one thing I counsel with all of them is to do your research to make sure that it is validated. Go out there and talk to people to make sure that this will be received, instead of just, ‘Oh I have this idea, and I want to go forward with it,’” she said.

The SBTDC will offer the course again on November 14.