Small Business Guidance is Free at the WNMU Small Business Development Center

© Western New Mexico University

Those looking to start or grow a small business in southwest New Mexico have a wealth of resources they may be unaware of in the WNMU Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

The SBDC, led by Director Mark Speirs, is part of a nationwide network that aims to encourage and support the development of small businesses.

Speirs, who joined the university in August 2023, said that the range of services the SBDC provides is wide, stretching across most of the areas that might challenge a new entrepreneur.  “If someone comes in and is interested in starting a business, we can help with all of it,” he said. “We can help them set up the LLC, get all their insurances, all their government stuff—their tax forms and registration. Once they are in business, we can help with marketing, with branding, with business planning. If they need any loans, we can help them with the paperwork. We help with pretty much the entire timeline of a business cycle.”

With a background as the owner of a construction company, Speirs has experience working first-hand to develop a business. More recently, he has worked for three SBDCs and has given advice to numerous entrepreneurs.

Because the SBDC at WNMU is one of eighteen in New Mexico, Speirs is also able to reach out to other directors and consultants who may have expertise in specific areas of business.

In the SBDC system overall, he said, “There is really an amazing wealth of assistance available for small businesses. … We are here for people who are thinking of starting a business but do not really know what the steps are. We can walk them through the whole process.” The SBDC provides this assistance for free; there is never a charge for services.

The only limitations to the services provided, said Speirs, is that the SBDC cannot give legal advice or do taxes.

The SPDC network is funded by the US Small Business Administration. The eighteen centers in New Mexico also receive funding from the state legislature, and each is responsible for a region of the state. Speirs’ territory covers four counties: Grant, Luna, Hidalgo, and Catron.

In addition to providing services to the general public, said Speirs, the SBDC is also a resource for faculty, staff and students. In the past, he said, faculty often seek SBDC services as they approach retirement, with the idea of turning a personal interest into a small business.  “I helped one professor who made soap,” he noted, “and I had another that imported and exported essential oils. I had one who wanted to do mindfulness training.”

He has also assisted entrepreneurial students, and looks forward to working with more students at WNMU. Students, he said, “are usually looking for some kind of side hustle or summer job. I have helped several students set up summer businesses, like in lawn care. I had one open up a very successful house painting business.”

Speirs said that he has been seeing an increase in the number of young entrepreneurs who are interested in working toward the triple bottom line, an accounting framework that recognizes that making money is not the sole goal of a business. “I get a lot of people now who want to make money … but they also want to give back to their community and do things for the environment,” he said.

Over the years, said Speirs, one of the things he has learned is to never be a dream-crusher. Sometimes people will come in with a business idea that does not sound promising. However, he has seen more that one of those ideas manifest into successful businesses.

“One time, I had a client who wanted to start a dog gym—kind of a Planet Fitness for dogs—and I had my doubts,” said Speirs, “But she picked up all kinds of media coverage because it was such a cool story, and [the business] took off. … I try never to say ‘this is a bad idea’ because I never know.”

No matter what direction someone wants to take their business, Speirs hopes they will take advantage of the wealth of free resources available through the SBDC. “We are here for everybody,” he said, “We can help on a one-time basis or ongoing. We can work as a sounding board or a coach—whatever you need to get your business up and running.”


Anyone seeking assistance from the SBDC can contact Speirs at (575) 538-6851 or Consultation is available in person, virtually, and by phone.


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