U.S. Small Business Administration celebrates its National Small Business Week April 30 through May 6 this year. Timothy Mittan, district director of the Nebraska District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, reflected on his first year as director and looks to the future of small business in the Metro.
You’ve been district director for over a year now, what has been the biggest highlight so far?
It has been a fun and exciting year for me that included a sizable learning curve. I have learned so much about working in the SBA and in the federal government as a whole. The biggest highlight for me has been traveling around the state, meeting our resource partners, lenders and small businesses. I love getting out and visiting small businesses, talking to entrepreneurs and hearing their stories.
What would you say are the biggest values of the SBA?
We are here for the small business owner. We all have experience in the fields we represent such as lending, contracting and business development & training. We pride ourselves on doing what we can do to help small businesses in Nebraska. It is impossible to anticipate all the needs of every business but do our best to get people what they need to succeed.
What challenges are you facing right now and how are you addressing them?
Our district is the State of Nebraska. That means there are over 77,000 square miles we get to cover with a team of six. The challenge is ensuring every small business owner in this state knows we are here for them. Thankfully we have several resource partners across the state that help us carry out our mission. We could not do all that we do without the help of the Nebraska Business Development Centers (NBDC), Apex Accelerators, the Center for Rural Affairs, GROW Nebraska Women’s Business Center, SCORE, Nebraska Enterprise Fund, Community Development Resources, and all our partner banks. We thank them for all they do to help us help small businesses in Nebraska.
What is an SBA program you are especially proud of?
This question is like asking a parent to tell you which child is their favorite! I like and am proud of all our programs. I am especially proud of the work we do with veterans. The SBA has recently taken over the process of certifying veteran and disabled veteran businesses. This certification helps in the lending process and vying for local and federal contracts. Also, in the very near future, we will be sharing more about something new and exciting for Veterans.
What is your best advice for someone looking to start a small business?
When someone gets the next great idea for a business or has the opportunity to take over a business. I encourage them to take a minute… take a deep breath … then ask for help. There are so many free services available to new entrepreneurs. If being in business is new to the individual, then they need to do some research on the industry and competition. They should also seek out a class or some training with one of our two Women’s Business Centers, NBDC, SCORE or from the SBA directly.
What small business success story has inspired you the most?
Every story I read is inspiring. No two entrepreneurs take the same path in business. It is fascinating to hear how they all get started and what they have done to get to where they are. Our Small Business Person of the Year, Rachel Daily of Innovative Rx in Kearney, Nebraska, started her business right before the pandemic hit. She was able to maintain during that difficult time by shifting her business model to create bulk hand sanitizer. Then when able, she continued with her mission and started growing.
Who is someone that has made a big impact on your career?
My mom was a businesswoman. She was a vice president in a local bank here in Nebraska and always had that drive to succeed. My two siblings and I got that from her. Mom did not care what we did in our careers. She just wanted us to be the best at what we did and have passion for it. Over the years, I have had many people who have helped, guided and given me opportunities along the way, but my career would not be what it is today without Mom.
What excites you most about the future of your career?
Small businesses are the backbone of our country. I know that the SBA will do everything it can to make sure there is support for them now and in the future. We have been around for almost 70 years. I anticipate we will be around for another 70 and beyond.
What destination do you want to travel to that you’ve never been to?
I still have 10 states in the US that I need to get to. We have a large, beautiful country. I want to see it all. I also want to travel overseas. There is a trip to Italy in the very near future, and I cannot wait. There is so much history to explore there. And the food!! After that, the German Christmas markets are next on the list.
What is something about you that not everyone knows?
I was a music major when I first started college. I received a scholarship in vocal music. Then the realist in me set in and I switched to business. I still sing, but mostly in the shower.