Liz McCormick Published

Future of Small Business to Be Further Discussed in 2015 Legislative Session


Owning a business is a dream many people have, but it’s not always easy to start it up and keep it going. Delegates met last week to discuss the future of small businesses in the state.

In the House Small Business Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Committee meeting, legislators met to learn what the state is doing to help small, budding businesses succeed in West Virginia.

A presentation was given by Kristina Oliver, the State Director for the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, and she discussed the biggest focus of the SBDC right now; Business Coaches.

“Our coaches help companies implement successful business practices and strategies,” Oliver said, “The SBDC program does not give grants, loans, or free money. The business coach walks the journey with the business as a trusted advisor to help that business discover what it needs to do to become successful.”

Oliver says small business is big business in West Virginia. She thinks small businesses are the wealth creators of the state, but to succeed they need a business coach to help them get there. Oliver says the role of a business coach is to help the budding business avoid bad decisions, mitigate risks, and strategically make decisions for success.

She also explained four key skills a business coach would help bring to the table:

  • Leadership Skills
  • Business Expertise
  • Management Processes Skills
  • Project Management

Oliver says since she took the role of state director five years ago, the SBDC has helped nearly 4800 clients, 400 new businesses get started and about half of those businesses are still in business today. She says that clients of the SBDC have access to over 72 million dollars in capitol access if they are approved.
But Delegate Tim Miley was concerned about some small businesses not knowing about the services offered.

Oliver responded saying what they really need is more people to help expand.

“I’m out now, you know marketing and letting people know about the services at the SBDC,” Oliver said, “We’re in a better position now to actually assist.”

Oliver hopes by the end of 2015, the SBDC will have 25 business coaches stationed across the state to help guide even more small businesses on the path to success.

At the end of the meeting, Chairwoman, Delegate Carol Miller was inspired to push the committee forward with a mission statement.

“We’ve all heard the stories of people aren’t helping us along with business, and I talked about maybe in our committee we could do a mission statement or a resolution that would strongly urge the cities, the counties, and the state to all get on the same page and work using our technology that is available, be it a portal or whatever, so I think we’ll work toward having some type of resolution come out of this Small Business, Economic Development, Entrepreneurship Committee, that we are strongly pushing towards making our state business friendly,” said Miller.