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SF Small Business Week. Celebrate Small Business.


San Francisco Small Business Development Center: Success Favors Those Who Adapt

#SFSBW2017 asked some of our resources to share insights, best practices, and examples of how they help small business owners flourish. Today we hear from San Francisco Small Business Development Center.

Tell us about your organization’s mission in one sentence.

To help existing and aspiring entrepreneurs start and expand businesses by providing one-on-one consulting and business training.

SFSBDC Group Photo

What are your organization’s recent accomplishments that demonstrate how you have helped the small business community?

In 2016, the San Francisco Small Business Development Center (SFSBDC) served 330 unique clients and provided 2,503 hours of customized one-on-one business consulting. Additionally, the SFSBDC facilitated 49 workshops and trained a total of 608 workshop participants; topics included, but were not limited to marketing, sales, access to capital, financial management, social media, and QuickBooks training. Thanks to these services, clients reported more than $17 million in access to capital, 353 jobs created, and $27 million in increased sales.

What tools and resources have your organization created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business?

The San Francisco SBDC provides no-cost one-on-one consulting to help businesses increase sales, reduce costs, and improve profits. Our Business Advisers are industry experts who specialize in marketing, financial management, accounting, strategy, access to capital, and other areas to help small business owners expand their businesses.

San Francisco is known for its diverse culture. How does your organization ensure that the small businesses that make this city unique are able to stay in San Francisco?

The San Francisco SBDC provides consulting in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese. We also work closely with community partners to support key commercial corridors.

What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners? 

Markets and industries are always changing, and, like evolution, business success favors the prepared, the resourceful, and those who are willing to adapt. Seek out opportunities, try to anticipate potential threats, and tap into your local resources. 

We would love to hear some real life examples of how you’ve supported small businesses.

Chef Khai

“For years Chef Khai successfully ran Ana Mandara in Ghiradelli Square. The 300 seat restaurant drew huge crowds and rave reviews from some of the Bay Area’s top restaurant critics. After a successful 12 year run Khai and his partners, actors Don Johnson and Cheech Marin decided to close the restaurant. Khai then took a much-needed sabbatical and returned to his native Vietnam for relaxation, rejuvenation and inspiration. “I needed to get back to my roots and discover new flavors from my countrymen,” says Chef Khai. While traveling through remote villages by bus and train Khai thought about what his next venture would be. He dreamt of opening a small cozy restaurant for a very special clientele with a concept the Bay Area had not seen before – a ten-course tasting menu of exquisitely prepared Vietnamese inspired bite-sized delicacies – what Khai calls Vietnamese Noveau Cuisine.

Upon his return to San Francisco he met Jim Nguyen, one of the SBDC’s business advisors. Jim told Khai the SBDC could assist him in opening his new restaurant by offering free consulting services and help with navigating the paperwork required by the City. Jim in turn introduced Khai to Valerie Camarda, one of the SBDC’s marketing consultants who created a marketing plan to guide the restaurant’s marketing and PR efforts. As a result, the restaurant was able to get coverage in the Inside Scoop, the food section of the San Francisco Chronicle, in Eater SF, an online food column, and in Hoodline’s food and restaurant section. As a result of reading the Hoodline story about Khai, ABC TV’s Natasha Zouves did a segment on Khai at the CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) Fest where he received a Humanitarian Award for his service to the community. The ABC TV segment appeared on Channel 7’s afternoon and evening news.

The Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and former Vietnamese Iron Chef judge’s restaurant has been open since late December 2016 and has steadily built its clientele. Not including himself, Khai has hired five staff members to help prepare and serve the very intricate food. He has trained his staff well. There are two seatings each night the first seating is at 5:30and the second at 8:30. Each course is served to each guest throughout the restaurant at the same to ensure each dish’s peak flavors. The restaurant does not take walk-ins. His past clients from Ana Mandara days are thrilled to see him back. Some of his clients from out of town now make a point of seeing him whenever they return to San Francisco. His 5-star Yelp reviews go on and on about how delicious the food is and how superb the service and ambiance are. Khai was just selected as one of five businesses who will be featured in a major Yelp ad campaign starting in a few months. Look for Khai’s picture on Muni buses and billboards throughout San Francisco. Now Khai has a new dream – to receive a Michelin star – one of the greatest honors a chef could ever receive. No other Vietnamese chef has ever received a Michelin star. Chef Khai will be the first – it’s written in the stars.”

 

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