Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business but weren’t quite sure the best place to start, aside from getting lost in a rabbit hole of Google searches or checking out “Starting a Business for Dummies” book? Well, entrepreneurial adventurer, your quest should always start with Alaska’s Small Business Development Center. 

 And, nope, this isn’t a tacky sales pitch because our business advising services are no cost. 

Yup, no cost, confidential and almost always more valuable than they cost.

 The SBDC has been around since the late ‘80s and is the child of the Small Business Administration, but housed within university systems and is chock full of expert business advisers who have walked the talk. Some have owned or currently own restaurants, pie shops, tech start-ups and of course the quintessential coffee kiosk, just to name a few. Here in Alaska, the SBDC offers advising services statewide, but Fairbanks and interior Alaska is our focus here.

 Our Fairbanks SBDC office is home to two of these advisers — Russell Talvi and myself, Alexis Amstutz. Aside from his wise and calming demeanor and infectious laugh, Russ is teeming with over 30 years of experience in general management and specifically the restaurant and service industries. 

In addition to  my effervescent personality and equally infectious (loud) laugh, I have over 12 years of experience with small business ownership including consulting and a pie shop (oh, and selling golfballs and lemonade on Hole 10 at Cedar Creek Golf Club at 8 years old in the Midwest). Both Russ and I teach as adjuncts for UAF CTC in the Applied Business program.

 So how do you start your entrepreneurial journey with us fine folks? Go to our website and sign up to be a client here. While we can’t offer accounting or legal services due to grant limitations, we can help with all other things business. Think of us as a family/general doctor but for your business. 

 Even if you’re just starting to think about a business or you’ve been running one and are ready to sell it, Russ and I can help with that and everything in between. From helping you perform a feasibility analysis, to analyzing financial statements, to preparing you to apply for a loan, to marketing advice, to assisting with business plans, we are the first, middle and last place you should involve in your small business journey.

 Local businesses such as Arctic Harvest, Ascension Rock Club, Badger Towing, Black Spruce Brewing, East Ramp Wood-Fired Pizza, Hoarfrost Vodka, and Trax (only to name a few) have taken advantage of the SBDC’s services at all stages of their business. From “you know, I’m retiring and I have dreamed of starting this business” to, “hey, I know what I’m doing and have been doing it, but need an extra set of eyes for strategic planning,” the SBDC is here to help.

 You can read quite a few testimonials of businesses we’ve helped on our client profile page, and what you’ll gather as you do is that the SBDC serves as your very own small business mentor, teacher and oftentimes, friend.

 It doesn’t matter if your meetings end in a business opening or you deciding that it really isn’t the right time for that pie shop, the SBDC is there to help you make sound, informed, economically relevant and wise business decisions. 

 So if you’ve started to pack that rucksack (or even simply got it out of the closet) for your entrepreneurial adventure, make your first stop the SBDC. From our one-on-one advising to free or low-cost workshops and friendly demeanors, we will help fill that backpack with tools and resources you will need for the journey.

Alexis Amstutz, MBA, is the Fairbanks business adviser at the Alaska Small Business Development Center,  907-456-7232 and alexis.fanelli@aksbdc.org