The Business Lab in Sherburne County: A valuable resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs

The Business Lab in Sherburne County: A valuable resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs Main Photo

27 Mar 2023


Entrepreneurs in Sherburne County have a new tool to launch, manage, and grow their business - the Business Lab.  The Business Lab provides a variety of high-quality business support services that entrepreneurs (including both new and established businesses) can access, at no cost. All Business Lab services are delivered remotely via video conferencing, making it easy to use these resources to grow your business.

Jessica Barthel, Economic Development Coordinator,  Sherburne County Economic Development talks about the manifold benefits offered to small business owners through the Business Lab:

1. What specific types of coaching and technical assistance does the Business Lab offer to small business owners in Sherburne County, and how have these services helped local entrepreneurs to grow and succeed?

“The Business Lab has provided a resource to new and seasoned entrepreneurs whose business is located in Sherburne County or has an economic impact in Sherburne County. Startup entrepreneurs appreciate coaches who ask them questions that encourage them to think about their business differently. Coaching helps entrepreneurs identify exactly what their ideas or goals are, establish a working business plan, and equip them with the confidence to execute it. Most entrepreneurs find high value in these initial sessions and come back for additional coaching. In addition to start-up coaching, Business Lab offers management coaching to aid its success beyond the initial startup. The Business Lab also offers technical assistance classes that help small business owners manage and grow their businesses. These experiences are all about “doing” and are built to help the busy business owner get things done quickly and easily. The featured class right now is a 2-day Website Bootcamp. The Business Lab has provided 140 coaching sessions to 65 different businesses, creating 39 jobs in the area. 85% of Business Lab attendees have reported positive business growth because of utilizing our Business Lab.”

2. How has the Business Lab been able to attract and retain a strong user base, and what steps does it take to ensure that the needs of small business owners in the community are being met?

“I have made it a point to market our Business Lab not only to new entrepreneurs and existing businesses, but also as a tool for commercial lenders, financial advisors, and even business attorneys to have on hand to share with their clients as they see fit. Oftentimes when business owners are starting up, looking to grow, or maybe even find themselves in trouble, they are visiting with folks from these professions. It is a valuable resource for lenders, advisors, and attorneys to have on hand to share with their clients in their time of need. I have made an intentional effort to market the Business Lab, attend events to connect with business owners and build those professional relationships to ensure that our business community knows who to come to if they have any questions, or need anything from Sherburne County. It is also crucially important in my role to serve as the “connector” of resources for business owners. I am in a unique position where I work with professionals from chambers, school districts, local government units, nonprofits, public sector… the list goes on, and because of that, I have a broad view of “who does what”. I need to listen to the needs of business owners, identify community partners and resources who can support their work, and connect them to problem-solve and grow. This collaboration is an important step in fostering an environment where business owners feel supported and ensure their needs are being met.”

3. In what ways does the Business Lab collaborate with other local organizations and agencies to promote economic development and create opportunities for small businesses in Sherburne County?

“In addition to providing startup and business management coaching, Business Lab engages business owners by offering Peer Learning Roundtables. Peer Learning Roundtables provide online video discussions that allow business owners to connect with other rural business owners from across the country to talk shop. Each roundtable is facilitated and focuses on topics important to business owners and provides a means to learn about new tools, resources, and strategies that are helping other businesses grow, build their professional network, and find inspiration for their next big success.”

The Business Lab is designed to provide not just tools, but solutions, that quickly and effectively help businesses achieve their goals. Services include 1:1 startup and business management coaching, peer-learning opportunities, and access to industry experts around a variety of topics.

You can find more information about the Business Lab here.