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Experts Help Hawaii Small Businesses at No Cost

Hawaii Small Business Development Center provides free advice

     Kurt Corbin and his experienced team offer free advice
     for local businesses.    
     Photo Courtesy: Kurt Corbin

What do you get when you cross more than a dozen skilled and experienced business professionals with a mission to help entrepreneurs?

At the Hawaii Small Business Development Center, you get about 1,000 clients a year statewide that receive free business consulting, research or technical training.

“Our clients come from the diverse spectrum of Hawaii’s business,” says Kurt Corbin, HSBDC’s assistant state director. “If you pick a business category there is a high probability that we are working with or have worked with a client in that market.”

The program, based at the University of Hawaii-Hilo, has offices on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and both sides of Hawaii Island. It is one of 63 such programs nationwide that work with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Almost 60 percent of the Hawaii program’s funding comes from state grants and the rest is federal money.

The center typically caters to small-business owners with five to seven employees and between $2 million and
$5 million in annual sales, Corbin says.

In addition to helping existing businesses, the center has helped launch between 60 and 100 businesses annually and has created 500 to 1,000 new jobs a year, Corbin says. It also helps delivers between $10 million and $13 million of capital infusion into the hands of small businesses each year, he says.

“As a results-driven organization, we focus on metrics to demonstrate our effectiveness,” he says. “These include sales growth, job creation, business expansion to new markets or through acquisition, capital infusion either through access to credit or direct investment and, of course, new business starts. All of these metrics are linked to strategic advice and counsel, and increased management effectiveness.”

Learn More
(808) 945-1430

<< How They Help

The Small Business Development Center offers business advice on everything from succession to market positioning, which is partly about how you want consumers to perceive your products and services. The center also helps its clients:
• Create financial controls to protect investor capital;
• Understand basic accounting;
• Document all aspects of financial performance, including payroll costs, capital expenditures, sales revenue and owners’ equity;
• Determine pricing strategies; and
• Find growth through lower-end offerings and discounts.

<< Experienced Experts

The consultants at the Hawaii Small Business Development Center have decades of experience in many areas, from high-level corporate management to startups, including technology, banking, retail, tourism and much more.

Hazel Beck

Senior Business Consultant leads the Kailua Kona office on the Island of Hawaii.  Hazel has a background in business consulting focusing on global manufacturing companies with particular emphasis on supply chain management, cost reduction, process re-engineering and business practices.  She has worked with clients in aerospace, automotive, telecommunications, semi‐conductor, electronics and retail sectors.  Hazel received her BA in Business Management from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio.

Aaron Brown

Senior Business Consultant at the O’ahu Center.  Born and raised in Hilo Aaron has experience in the food and manufacturing industries where he worked and co-developed a gourmet specialty sauce company.  He has expertise with financial/budget management, marketing, sales, manufacturing, business plan construction, and feasibility analysis.   Aaron received a BS in Finance and an MBA from Oregon State University.  

Joseph Burns

O'ahu Center Director.  Joe has many years of extensive high-level consulting experience with both private companies and U.S. Government facilities with particular emphasis in metrics development, implementation of a Balanced Scorecard system and aligning objectives, initiatives and metrics to drive strategy into action.  He received a BA in Chinese-Liberal Arts from Oakland University in Michigan, and an MBA in International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona.  He is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and is conversant in Chinese.

Constance Cate

Center Director for the East Hawaii office located in Hilo on the Island of Hawaii.    Constance earned her BA in Business from the University of Hawaii‐Hilo and an MBA from Grand Valley State University, Michigan.  She began her SBDC career in Michigan followed by her return to Hawaii as a consultant in the Honolulu office and then to Hilo as Center Director. She holds a Hawaii CPA license. Constance’s areas of expertise encompass the full range of accounting and related analyses across a wide spectrum of industries and business sectors.

Pia Chock

Business Consultant at the O'ahu Center.  Pia received a BA in East Asian Studies from Harvard, and an MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  As an employee of McKinsey & Co. based in Shanghai, she provided management consulting to a variety of Chinese clients – private and government.  Most recently, before joining the Hawai'i SBDC, she was a consultant with the Wharton SBDC.  She speaks fluent Chinese.

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

Old to new | New to old
Aug 22, 2011 02:13 pm
 Posted by  Keapoi

Interested in business assistance for sauce company.

This has been flagged
Dec 19, 2011 04:49 pm
 Posted by  Lewis

I am interested in buying a small business in Honolulu. I am looking for someone to be a small percentage partner in the beginning but eventually be a primary partner or sole-owner.
Looking for some direction on how to locate someone with local experience.

Dec 19, 2011 05:22 pm
 Posted by  nom

You can learn more about buying a small business in Honolulu by reading our story on the topic, which ran in June 2011.

Feb 9, 2013 02:45 pm
 Posted by  MSantiagoortiz

I am interested in information funding for a Latin Cuisine Food Based Business in Maui, Hawai'i. This eatery will include a variety of Puerto Rican & South American inspired foods. Assistance will mainly be used for start-up costs to secure a location. Funds will be needed to find an established 2nd generation restaurant facility for lease. It will be used to cover any commercial kitchen equipment necessary as well as serve as a means to provide any upgrades/build-out costs to the restaurant.

Mar 19, 2013 08:30 am
 Posted by  sumrec24

Outside vending rules®ulations

May 13, 2013 12:31 pm
 Posted by  joenan48

I am looking to open up a gym in the oceanview, hawaii area and I am trying to find out the best way to go about doing that. where do I start and how do I go about getting a grant to start up my small business

Jun 23, 2013 11:02 am
 Posted by  therapy1

I am looking for help starting up a green cleaning business on the island of Hawaii. I really need some advise on setting up a sturdy billing system and also how to price things out. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Aug 24, 2013 05:25 am
 Posted by  weswied

I am looking for help starting a Hawaii tourism e commerce site. I also would like to have local college IT students (or the university IT program) help with the development and maintenance of the site. Where do I start?


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