National Mentoring Month Is a Good Time to Measure the Health of Your Small Business

Posted on January 17, 2018

By Karen Friel, U.S. Small Business Administration West Virginia District Director @ www.wvnews.com

Making New Year’s resolutions is a common practice for most Americans this time of year. While many resolutions typically revolve around health and fitness goals, it is equally beneficial to measure the health of your small business.

January is National Mentoring Month and a good time to reap the benefits of counseling and mentoring services offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and their network of resource partners, including the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WVSBDC), SCORE WV, and the WVU Women’s Business Center.

Made in Germany (MIG), a marketing and creative strategy consultant, helps small businesses and non-profit organizations communicate with their audiences. However, when MIG needed help building their own business, the company reached out to SBA resource partner the WVSBDC for mentoring assistance.

Jens Kiel, founder of MIG, is a transplant to West Virginia. He followed his heart from Western Germany, where he was in business for more than 15 years; journeying to the Mountain State to pursue love and business. Kiel knew the inner workings of management, but when he started his own business in August 2013, he sought assistance from the WVSBDC on insight to doing business “the American way”.

Through the WVSBDC network, Kiel was connected with Small Business Coach Terry Cyfers who assisted Kiel in preparing a business plan, assessing priorities and identifying his target audiences. Through monthly coaching sessions, Cyfers walked Kiel through utilizing different tools and matrixes to clearly define the advantages of Made in Germany to help minimize risks and create a more refined focus in the clientele approached and their services provided.

Kiel expressed interest in government contracting and the WVSBDC assisted him in getting funding through the WV Development Office’s Governor’s Guaranteed Workforce Program to attend the Federal Acquisition Management course offered through Pierpont CTC taught by SBA’s PCR Barbara Weaver. By the end of 2016, through relationships he made during the class, Kiel was coaching more than 2,600 Contracting Officers of the Veteran’s Health Administration in communicating better via email.

Cyfers connected Kiel with SBA’s West Virginia District Office, where he built a relationship with the team and started conducting co-sponsored training sessions to entrepreneurs across the nation. In 2016, Kiel was nominated by Cyfers for the SBA’s West Virginia Small Business Champion of the Year award in 2016 and won.

Kiel also joined another SBA resource partner, SCORE, as they plan to restructure the organization to SCOREWV. Kiel will help them communicate their new services to include client counseling through video conferencing, email and other digital means. SCORE is a volunteer based organization that is funded in part by the SBA.

“One of the things I most admire about Jens is his social consciousness and stewardship of the talents he has been given,” states Cyfers. “He has always added within his business model time to give back to the community of entrepreneurs not only locally, but nationally.”

2017 has been a year of growth for MIG. The company moved to a downtown Charleston office, which led to an opportunity to assist the Charleston Area Alliance in marketing West Virginia to European businesses.

“Jens has been an ideal client for the SBDC,” added Cyfers. “He has taken advantage of the coaching to move his firm in a strategic direction, positioning himself to do business on an international scale.”

If you are a small business interested in receiving mentoring assistance, contact the SBA West Virginia District Office at 304-623-7445 or wvinfo@sba.gov

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