The Rushmore State – Carving out a business profile

The top need for small businesses in South Dakota is finding quality employees. Owners also identified employee quantity issues as the leading growth inhibitor.

“The Rushmore State – Carving out a Business Profile: 2017 South Dakota Small Business Needs Assessment Results,” is authored by Dr. Patricia Ahmed, lecturer at South Dakota State University; and Dena R. Beck, senior project leader and loan specialist of the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project and Rural Investment Corporation.

The authors conducted a survey in spring 2017, gathering information from South Dakota small business owners and resource providers to identify strengths and areas that need attention. They received 423 responses, representing 92 percent of counties in South Dakota.

Job growth is critically dependent on new business formation. If businesses do not have the workforce they need, they will struggle to grow. Providers must be aware of this and continue to watch, evaluate, and communicate with businesses to identify their workforce needs.

Both aspiring and existing business owners also cited high-speed internet access as a start-up difficulty, current business need, and growth inhibitor.

Survey questions were based on financing, startup needs, current needs, business growth inhibitors, and training and technology needs.

To ensure business owners are offered the products and services they need, it is imperative to simply ask. Business needs change as the economy shifts and technology modernizes, and entrepreneurs fluctuate in interests, financial situations, and energy levels. As citizens, business owners, business lenders, and resource providers, we need to pay attention to those needs and assist if we want our downtowns, communities, and local economies to thrive.

Entrepreneurship provides employment as well as products and services that citizens need. This is especially important in rural communities, where small businesses add to the richness and character of a place. 

Feedback from people who serve small businesses is an important piece of the puzzle, as they provide valuable insight. Local lenders and resource providers know what businesses need to be successful; they see businesses from a community level, and understand the importance of those businesses to the communities and local economies. 

Partnering organizations were instrumental in distributing the survey to desired audiences. Those partners include Dakota Resources and East River Electric’s Rural Electric Economic Development, Inc.

For a presentation in your community, contact Dr. Ahmed at 605.688.4132 or patricia.ahmed@sdstate.edu.