First Millennial Director Of East Colorado SBDC Pursues Lifelong Passion Of Helping Small Businesses

By Katarina Velazquez
Greeley Tribune, Colo.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) 29 year old Lisa Hudson is the director of the East Colorado Small Business Development Center. She’s done everything from helping new clients write business plans to conducting research analysis for long-time clients.

Greeley Tribune, Colo.

Lisa Hudson knows the struggles and triumphs small business owners face.

She’s known since she was a kid growing up in LaSalle. Her dad owned a small business as a contractor in rural Weld County, and that’s where she saw firsthand the ups and downs those who choose to be their own bosses experience.

She didn’t know it at the time, but that’s where her love and passion for small business sparked.

“I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurism, and I believe it’s really what drives the local economy,” she said.

Now, Hudson is the director of the East Colorado Small Business Development Center, helping people just like her father across 13 counties in eastern Colorado. She’s done everything from helping new clients write business plans to conducting research analysis for long-time clients.

Hudson earned the position in January and is the first millennial to tackle the job at 29. In her role, Hudson also serves as director for the University of Northern Colorado’s BizHub Collaborative, which provides online services to small business owners who are members of the program.

She manages a staff of about 11 employees, the majority of whom she said are millennials, as well, and she handles a budget of about $400,000 for the nonprofit organization.

Hudson graduated from UNC’s Monfort College of Business with a degree in marketing in 2010 and started her career with the SBDC as a business consultant a little while before that.
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Her then-professor Dick Pickett was the executive director at the time, and one day, offered her a job interview with the organization. She went for it, and by 7 p.m. that night, she recalled, she had a job.

Two years later in 2012, Hudson was promoted to associate director of the organization, and then completely took over in January of this year. In her seven years with SBDC, she’s had about 600 clients and has provided 3,200 hours of business consulting.

In Hudson’s inaugural year, the East Colorado SBDC team has achieved 17 of the 18 goals set at the beginning of the year. The goals targeted three categories: impact, consulting and training.

For example, for impact, one target for the team was to create 125 jobs. Thus far in 2017, they’ve helped create 279.5 jobs.

The only goal they haven’t met yet is the number of businesses they wanted to help start, which is a number Hudson said sometimes can be a little beyond their control. She said she’s still really proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish with their fresh, innovative ideas.

Hudson had two goals she wanted to implement when becoming director and already has achieved one — adding a brewing and distilling specialist to her team.

“I wanted … to be able to look at what’s trending in our markets and be able to bring in some specialty consultants to service those areas,” Hudson said. “I wanted us to keep up with the times of what’s trending in Colorado for small businesses.”

Hudson said she also eventually wants to hire a retail specialist who can help SBDC retail businesses contend against their online competitors, such as big dogs Amazon or Walmart.

Hudson takes a lot of pride in being the first millennial to direct the SBDC, and she said by combining her fresh technological ideas with what she learned from Pickett, her baby boomer mentor, she can help small businesses really thrive.

After all, it’s her passion.

“It’s just really interesting to see these self-starters take a chance and a risk,” she said. “We’re there to try to help them minimize that risk.”

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