Katie Taylor, Main Street’s Vice President – Marketing & Executive Projects, interviews Lee Lambert. Lee has over 30 years of experience in management consulting, financial services, corporate and business development and startup companies. He has served on the Board of Directors for several private and one publicly traded company. Click here to read more about Lee.
How does the Alameda County SBDC work with Main Street Launch?
We are a division of Main Street Launch. Main Street Launch is our Host organization, helping to guide the strategy of our program, and providing fiscal and operations administration. SBDC hosts also provide matching funds to enable the program to extend our reach and depth of services provided.
As is the case with many other lenders, Main Street Launch refers clients to us for a variety of reasons. For example, prior to a loan, we can assist the company to become “loan ready” through development of its business plan, financial forecasts, licensing and permitting processes, and to help guide market research to validate the business concept. After the loan, we may be asked to come in to assist with marketing, operations improvement, or strategic planning.
We are thrilled to be a part of the Main Street Launch services. The highly professional support and client-focused working environment is ideal.
In what ways do you think the partnership between ACSBDC & Main Street Launch brings value to our communities?
We have many clients who work with both the SBDC and Main Street Launch. When it makes sense, we direct clients to work with Main Street Launch for their funding needs. This relationship between our organizations existed long before our current hosting arrangement, as Main Street Launch has always been a prominent community lender. Currently, about 15-20% of our clients who receive funding work with Main Street Launch. The remainder are directed wherever it makes the most sense for their specific requirements.
The combination of financing expertise at Main Street Launch and the wide variety of business consulting skills resident in the SBDC is a powerful combination. We often consult with each other for advice about client situations, even if one or the other organization is not officially engaged or credited. We are both just doing what we believe is in the clients’ best interest.
In what ways do you work with clients? What’s a brief description of your role?
My primary function is to supervise the delivery of client services from our 15 Business Advisors, who work with over 500 clients each year. These are highly talented and experienced consultants and current or former business owners who are experts in business financing, marketing, social media, technology, operations, accounting and many other areas. I also serve clients in the financing and strategy areas.
We focus on what is needed to help accelerate the growth of the client’s business. That can be sourcing or refinancing capital, helping a client design a social media ad campaign, improving the efficiency of a restaurant operation, or a huge range of other possibilities. We advise the business owners according to their needs and capacities. The desired outcomes are to raise capital, and increase jobs and sales of the business.
Our advisory sessions are in person, by phone or email, depending upon the client need. Many meetings are held at the client’s location.
What inspires or motivates you about your work with clients?
I love the opportunity to work one on one with business owners, and to contribute in a granular way to the local economy. After nine years of consulting to small businesses in Alameda County, I have developed friends and small business resource allies all over. It is incredibly satisfying to see businesses that were just an idea years ago become successful, sustainable enterprises. Our entrepreneurs did the hard work, but we made a contribution to help them on their way.
What do you enjoy about working on our team?
Main Street Launch is a mission focused organization where the entrepreneurs and the community are the reason everyone is here. The dedication of the people is the strongest I have seen of all organizations I have been associated with throughout my career. It is a pleasure to work with a team that is truly about serving the community.
Anything else you’d like folks to know?
Don’t be afraid to reach out. In general, the sooner we get involved with a business, the better the result. When you are operating a small business, the demands on your time are extraordinary. It is hard to step back and look at your overall strategy and where your best opportunities might be. That role can be filled by the SBDC or another organization or consultant. Just as humans should check in with their doctor, find your “business doctor” to work with you.