Providing Expert Advice for Emerging Small Businesses
The University of St. Thomas Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides free, confidential business consulting services and modestly-priced workshops to help established businesses and startups develop strategies to attract customers, increase sales and improve profitability.
Our business consultants are paid professionals with extensive, practical experience in marketing, finance, accounting, operations and business planning. Most have been business owners themselves and have advanced degrees.
The SBDC is part of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. Since 1981, the SBDC has assisted more than 10,000 local businesses and entrepreneurs, and it continues to fulfill its mission of helping local companies grow and prosper.
The University of St. Thomas SBDC is funded by the University of St. Thomas, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Call or email the SBDC for more information.
SBDC Services for Startup Businesses (Pre-Revenue)
Smart Start for Business
Smart Start for Business is a self-led CAPE designed course in collaboration with Opus College of Business and the SBDC. This course provides the essentials needed to get ready to launch your business:
- Test the viability of your business idea
- Write a business plan
- Determine potential business risks
- Plan your legal
- Financial and tax recordkeeping
- Know how to run an ethical business.
Course cost $99
Business Plan Advising
Upon completion of the workshop, you may request a business consultant to guide you through the completion of your business plan. Consultations may continue for as long as the parties feel worthwhile progress is being made but may be limited by funding constraints or ongoing demand for SBDC services. There is no charge for this service.
SBDC Services for Established Businesses
For ongoing businesses, the SBDC offers free, confidential advice in marketing, finance, accounting, operations and business planning. Our goal is to help you develop strategies to attract customers, increase sales and improve profitability.
Requests for assistance are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Consultations may continue for as long as the parties feel worthwhile progress is being made, but may be limited by funding constraints or ongoing demand for SBDC services.
Community Entrepreneurship Program
The Community Entrepreneurship Program is a 10-month, hands-on program for any community member facing economic hardship who has a dream of starting and growing a business, including those who have already started a venture but need help to grow.
The Community Entrepreneurship program supports entrepreneurs through: a six-week business training bootcamp, one-on-one mentorship, consulting support, connections to community resources, micro-grant program, and networking opportunities.
Client Eligibility & Engagements
Free business consultation services are available to individuals or companies starting or operating a Minnesota for-profit business that meets the SBA definition of a small business. (Approximately 98 percent of Minnesota's businesses meet the SBA definition.)
SBDC workshops are open to the public.
Our clients are primarily located in the seven-county metro area of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington Counties.
Requests for assistance are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Consultations may continue for as long as the parties feel worthwhile progress is being made but may be limited by funding constraints or ongoing demand for SBDC services.
“There are times you move along well on your own and then you hit a bump in the road and need some help to make a decision. Every time we called the SBDC for help, the advice we got was very appropriate for where we were at that time. I look back since then and realize those were all good suggestions for our business.”
“I think it would have been a completely different experience without the help. Who knows how much time and energy and money might have been spent trying to get to the same place, if you could ever get there.”
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
If you are in the early stages of planning your new venture, the U.S. Small Business Administration's website is an excellent guide to the process.
SCORE provides free and confidential business counseling tailored to pre-venture and early stage businesses. SCORE also offers workshops for a modest fee for both startup entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MDEED)
The MDEED's “Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota” publication is the most comprehensive reference of its kind and a must-read for anyone contemplating a startup or purchase of a business. Other in-depth guidebooks cover topics as employment law, e-commerce, securities offerings, franchising, debt financing, loan documentation and intellectual property protection.
LegalCORPS assists low-income owners of small businesses and small nonprofit organizations by connecting them with free, high-quality legal services from volunteer lawyers.
Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA)
The MEDA offers consulting, training, business planning, financial assistance and other services to businesses owned by ethnic minorities.
MN-SBIR serves as the state’s focal point to help technology-based entrepreneurs and innovators successfully access federal funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs.
The University of St. Thomas SBDC is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and regional support partners. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the program sponsors. Programs are open to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the Small Business Development Center at (651) 962-4500 to make arrangements.