RISCPA/SBDC join forces to offer “Smart Owner Series”

It was inevitable that a conversation between Douglas Jobling, the long-time Regional Director at the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center, and Robert A. Mancini, Executive Director of the RlSCPA would lead to high-quality professional education opportunities.

Recognizing a shared desire to promote quality small business management and to offer professional opportunities to advance that goal, the University of Rhode Island-based SBDC and RISCPA have joined forces to offer a series of professional seminars, entitled “The Smart Owner Series,” at the RISCPA’s CPA training facility at 40 Sharpe Drive in Cranston.    

The SBDC is a business support program that offers free business counseling, low-cost training programs and related services to small businesses. The counseling and training are in all business disciplines including business planning, marketing, management, human resource development, financing the business, and financial management of existing firms. The program is administered by the University of Rhode Island in a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation also provides significant support to the SBDC.  In addition to its headquarters on URI’s Kingston campus, the SBDC has offices in Providence and Lincoln.

The seminars represent a wide range of disciplines and were designed by Mancini, Jobling, and Diane Fournaris, of the SBDC and Susan Breen of the RISCPA. In addition, David Lucier, Principal of Lucier CPAs, contributed to the layout of the program and will conduct the first seminar in June. “The Smart Owner Series” aims to offer an overview of the more important aspects of managing a small business, with some concentration on the financial management discipline, consistent with the RISCPA’s expertise.

Jobling promises that participants will find the seminars to be a worthwhile investment of their time.  One thing the SBDC network around the country has learned, he said, is that many business owners start their business because they have a particular skill, expertise in a particular industry or have developed a new product.  But quite often, said Jobling, they don’t have expertise in the one thing they need most - management of a business.  

“They need to learn the major disciplines such as financial management, marketing, human resource management and others,” he said. “Unfortunately, the person who said that ‘if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door’ was a liar.  You still have to identify customers, make sales, collect your revenue, set up a production system, pay your bills, hire people as you expand, and all the rest.  These workshops provide an overview of the disciplines required of a successful business owner or professional.”

Mancini sees the collaborations between the RISCPA and the SBDC as a natural fit. 

“This collaboration represents our efforts to reach out to the small business community through our creation of the Center for Business Education,” said Mancini. “We'll provide access to quality instructors to support the content and subject matter requested by SBDC, which also will handle direct marketing through its excellent SBA connection.” 

The seminars are open to any small business owner, manager or business professional, which will take place at the RISCPA’s state-of-the-art training facility at 40 Sharpe Drive, Unit 5 in Cranston.  Centrally located, this facility can hold at least 50 people.  With one exception, the programs will have registration at 8:00 a.m., and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The one exception is the business planning seminar that will run from 8:30 to 12:00 noon.  Any small business owner or manager or business professional may attend; there are no eligibility requirements.

The tentative schedule for “The Smart Owner Series” is as follows:

Financial Management Systems June 9
Business Planning September 10
Securing a Business Loan September 
Cash Flow and Financial Statements December

Online August 18
Beginner November 18
Intermediate January 12, 2016

Overview June 25
Sales October 16
Social Media October or January

Human Resources
The Essentials of HR Management August 20

To Be Determined November