Small Business Matters: A look back at 2019

  • Hawaii SBDC clients injected over $32 million into the state’s economy last year and 27% of that, or $8.6 million, was on the Big Island. (Courtesy image)

The owners of a boat tour company, a veterinary clinic, and a restaurant walk into a bar. Heard that joke setup before?

Well, in this iteration of that humorous scenario they don’t walk into a bar, they walk into the West Hawaii Small Business Development Center in 2019. And they don’t walk in on the spur of the moment, they walk in as the next logical step of a long-considered deliberation about wanting to change their professional lives.


What do the owners or wannabe owners in these very different industries have in common?

It’s the same things their counterparts in landscaping, occupational therapy, autobody, medicine, renewable energy, or parts supply, all of whom also worked with the WHSBDC in 2019, are concerned about. They all share the trials and tribulations, and yes, the excitement and promise, of starting or growing a small business. How do I start or expand, how do I arrange financing, how do I get new customers, how do I hire and retain employees, how do I handle the stress of sitting where the buck stops?

The devil is in the details, and the details abound in running a small business.

If life indeed “happens” for each of us in whatever we do personally or professionally, it happens in spades to owners of a small business. And unlike life in general, where you probably know someone you can rely on to point the way, you may be at a loss as to how to approach the challenges faced in entrepreneurship. That’s where the Small Business Development Center comes in.

In our work with our clients over the years, SBDC staff have encountered just about every concern a small business might have, and in an amazing array of industries or occupations, as is obvious from the businesses listed above. SBDC services are offered to all these at no charge and are financed by the US Small Business Administration and the State of Hawaii. As is the case with most funders, those entities want to know what they got for their money.

That return on investment is measured in how well our clients do, and that is gauged by the amount of money those clients pump into the economy as investments in their businesses, how much their sales have increased, how many new businesses they’ve formed, and how many new jobs they’ve created. These are the metrics we live and die by at the SBDC and I am pleased to report that 2019 was a very good year!

Hawaii SBDC clients injected over $32 million into the state’s economy last year and 27% of that, or $8.6 million, was on the Big Island.

Statewide, our clients experienced sales growth of $22.6 million in 2019, and 22% of that, or $4.9 million, was right here on Hawaii Island. The list goes on: 100 new SBDC client businesses were started last year and a remarkable 49% of those, 49 businesses, were in East or West Hawaii; 268 jobs were created statewide, and again remarkably, 44% of those, 117 jobs, were here on this island; and statewide over 5,000 hours were spent in client advising services, and approximately 2,500, or 50% of those hours were here on the Big Island.

To put all these dollars and percentages into perspective, keep in mind that Hawaii Island contains only 13% of the state’s population. 2019’s results show that we are truly boxing above our weight limit, so to speak, and I’d like to congratulate our Big Island clients for their entrepreneurial spirit and creativity, both of which are the bases for these truly above expected outcomes.

So, what does the new year hold? In addition to numerous small business clients in construction, photography, flooring, personal training, food product manufacturing, and health care that are already in our pipeline, we look forward to working with other Big Island businesses at any stage of development who are eager to move on and increase their profits, productivity, or owner satisfaction. We do that out of our offices in Kona and Hilo and out of a satellite location in North Hawaii.

We will also continue our business training classes, and we have classes scheduled in marketing, business plans, and tracking the business metrics that matter for the first quarter, with classes on QuickBooks, exporting, and a variety of other topics to come for the rest of the year.

See our website at and keep your eye on West Hawaii Today for details on those, and go to that same website to sign up for services for your business at any of the locations noted above.

We’re a small organization, in a small part of a small state, but I think we’ve proven that working together we can reach big goals. Here’s to a happy and prosperous new year!


Dennis Boyd is the director of the West Hawaii Small Business Development Center

Hawaii SBDC Network is funded in part through the U.S. Small Business Administration and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

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