If one of your resolutions in 2022 is to improve your business or get your business idea off the ground, the City of Roseville and Ramsey County are offering their expertise to you.
Noah Her is a business advisor for the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers Open to Business program through Ramsey County. Open to Business provides free, confidential business counseling to current and prospective entrepreneurs. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners, Noah is passionate about small business success and ingenuity.
The City of Roseville had a chance to talk with Noah about what helps make a business successful. Click here to learn more about Noah and the Open to Business program. Noah will be holding "office hours" at Roseville City Hall January 25 at 1:00 p.m. Email him for more information.
City of Roseville (COR): Hi Noah, thanks for sitting down with me today to talk about Open For Business and the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers. First off, can you tell me, What is the purpose of the Open for Business program through Ramsey County?
Noah Her, Business Advisor: Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers: I love what I do! I am privileged to help entrepreneurs start up, grow and work through roadblocks they may encounter to have successful businesses.
COR: What makes for a successful business, in today’s economy?
Noah: The businesses that experience the most success are the ones with truly passionate leaders. Through conversations, in person and online, our business advisors try to help entrepreneurs discover what motivates, inspires and compels them. Just this morning, I had a client reach out to me via email. “Hey, Noah. What business would you recommend me do?” I replied, “Let’s talk about it! I can’t advise yet. I am not yet familiar with your strengths and passions. Really, you have to ask yourself what are some industries you’ve experienced and what piques your interest? If you can answer that, go down that path to pursue those opportunities.
(COR): Tell me a little about yourself. What is your background?
Noah: My parents are Hmong refugees from Laos and Thailand in Southeast Asia. My dad shares one particular story of the promise of America with me every chance he gets. On their long airplane ride to America, he sat next to an American. My dad, in his limited English, explained that they were on their way to the land of opportunity. The gentleman agreed. ‘America is where you can go and become anything. There’s something called the American dream. You can be rich. You can be whatever you want. Whatever you want, you can become that.’ And once settled in central Wisconsin, my parents never took the opportunity to live in America for granted.
My parents are serial entrepreneurs — forming businesses like a ginseng growing operation to a daycare center, running a food truck and property management company to a million dollar shopping and cultural center. They accomplished all of this without formal education, business courses and limited English language skills. Their success stemmed from their passion. A passion to start up their own business, to provide for their seven children and to give back to their community.
Many of my clients today remind me of my parents. 'Hey, Noah. I don’t understand — everything from building a business plan, acquiring a loan, marketing, etc. I need help to figure this out.' And I approach clients with the same level of compassion I have for my parents.
(COR) What can Open for Business do for entrepreneurs and business owners?
Noah: I want people to understand we’re not miracle workers. We help the entrepreneur vet their ideas and strategies and provide an additional perspective. I help them see the challenges and opportunities. As an example, if the idea from the client is, ‘I want to sell goldfish for a living.’ Cool — I help them talk through the market appetite for buying goldfish. Is there a demand?
(COR) So… what is the demand for that?
Noah: If somebody wants to start up X, Y, Z business, I'm not going to say yes, that's going to pass or fail. Again, it all depends on your drive and your determination. For me, it’s about more than being a devil's advocate for the business leader, but to really help them see a 360 degree view and a 10,000-foot perspective on the business they’re trying to start up."
(COR): What’s the benefit of having an advisor like you to work with for securing loans for small business owners?
Noah: We are experienced lenders with a loan portfolio in the millions of dollars. We know what other financial institutions are analyzing about applicants. At times, while a bank is unable to offer suggestions to revise a business idea, Open to Business is here to be a partner to help entrepreneurs best position their loan package to banks or non-traditional financial institutions like Open to Business, a CDFI in the metropolitan community.
(COR): What's your favorite thing about consulting with people?
Noah: I love dreaming with the clients and helping them see their own potential.