Mike Daniel, director of Lead SBDC, Dean Morteza Rahmatian and officials from Union Bank hold a large check in the Dean's Suite of Mihaylo College.

Lead SBDC Director Mike Daniel ’99 (center) and Mihaylo Dean Morteza Rahmatian (second from right) hold a $75,000 check from Union Bank. The grant provides small business owners with assistance in finding the funding needed to start or grow their enterprises.

A diverse community stretching from the beach towns to the Coachella Valley, Orange County and the Inland Empire has limitless potential for today’s entrepreneurs. The Cal State Fullerton chapter of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), housed in Mihaylo College, provides training and support for local business and future startups. Director Mike Daniel ’99 discusses the center’s activities and how students can get involved.

With a combined population of about 7.5 million, Orange County and the Inland Empire comprise one of the most important economic regions in the United States. Opportunities abound for businesses focusing on agriculture, the supply chain, tourism, financial services, real estate and many other fields. Yet entrepreneurship is not easy, with high costs, regulations and the difficulty of developing competitive advantage preventing many businesses from achieving success.

Assisting Local Small Businesses

The Lead Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mihaylo College is committed to giving local small businesses the resources they need to realize their dreams through no-cost consulting, low-cost financing, training programs and access to experienced mentors in the community. The Mihaylo center oversees six off-campus service centers, including the Orange County SBDC, OC Hispanic SBDC, Inland Empire SBDC, Coachella Valley SBDC, Launchpad SBDC and the TriTech SBDC, that are attuned to the unique needs and challenges of the communities they serve. Recognizing the diversity of the community, the SBDC can assist clients in languages such as Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Farsi, in addition to English. The center’s many events and workshops, held at locations throughout the region, provide tips on topics such as export assistance, taxes and marketing.

Partially funded by the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) and hosted by Cal State Fullerton, the regional network has provided more than $350 million in capital infusion, created or retained more than 1,500 jobs, and led to the creation of 200 new businesses during 2016.

Streamlining the Lending Process

Access to capital is vital to businesses – and Lead SBDC is there to help. “We have created the SBDC Finance Center, which employs expert loan advisors and a handful of Mihaylo business students who assist clients through the lending process and help package and shop loans for SBDC clients,” says Mike Daniel ’99 (marketing). “We have grown partnerships with these funding sources and rather than partnering with banks at a branch level, we work with the decision-makers and loan underwriters to receive quick decisions as to whether the loan is bankable, saving our clients’ time and energy. We were recently awarded a $75,000 grant from Union Bank to assist small business owners with finding the funding they need to start or expand their business. This money will be used to hire additional consultants and interns to assist the small business community throughout our region.”

When looking for funding for your business, Daniel says knowledge is power. “Do your research and know what types of funding are available,” he says. “Pay attention to rates and terms and understand that a lender is going to want to see you invest your own money as well.”

Getting Involved as a Student

Do you have a business concept that you would like to turn into reality? The SBDC is ready to advise student startups. You can set up an appointment by calling 657-278-2719 or using the center’s contact form. “The consultations are free and all of our consultants are business owners themselves,” says Daniel, who owns Sugar Daddies Sweet Shoppe, a “fill it yourself” candy store in Long Beach’s Shoreline Village.

Internships with SBDC are also available for business students. “Internships include working with small business owners in helping them create business and marketing plans, apply for funding, set up their corporate structure, and conduct market research for international trade opportunities,” he says. Interested students can call the center or stop by SGMH 4157 to deliver their résumé.

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