Lunch and Learn with Barry Kirchof

Lunch and Learn with Barry Kirchof

Minnesota National Bank in Sauk Centre recently teamed up with the Sauk Centre Chamber of Commerce and St. Cloud State University’s Barry Kirchoff for a “Lunch and Learn” seminar. The goal was to bring an educational session to small business owners and employees at ElmerZ in Sauk Centre.

An article featured in the Sauk Centre Herald reported about a dozen people in attendance of the event to hear Kirchoff speak. Barry is the director of St. Cloud State’s Small Business Development Center. In his role, he supervises the work done in the center on behalf of businesses in the central Minnesota area.

During his speech, Kirchoff repeated a line he often hears in in small business: “I don’t do finance, my accountant deals with that.” Kirchoff say those words are, “the famous last words of a small business owner. They need to understand questions they should be asking their accountant. You often have to see your business through the eyes of a banker.”

According to the article in the Sauk Centre Herald, there are Small Business Development Centers in all 50 states. Minnesota was the 16th state to adopt this type of program, with St. Cloud State being the state’s first. “We're considered part of the University outreach,” Kirchoff said. “We're here to help small businesses, whether you want to start one or expand one. We provide confidential one-on-one backing.”

Throughout the presentation, Barry explained the way the Small Business Center is operated and how they work as a team to get tasks completed. He says that not everyone has the right answer, so they employ a diverse group of people.

Kirchoff gave the listeners a list of reasons why small business collapse. Included in the list are divorce, 50/50 partnership, destructive hobbies, overuse of credit cards, and embezzlement. “Those are red flags for any business owner. Other factors become red flags for bankers, like the business doesn't make any money, financial statements are infrequent or inaccurate, a loan request is hurried, inadequate coverage of debt service (and) starting a business with no previous experience or a significant management change,” he added.

To end his presentation, Barry explained how businesses are having to adapt with the changing times and technology. The original article shares that he used banking as an example. He said, “Even if you're a small business, you have to look like a 'big business' online. For example, go to any college campus. Often college students don't have a bank and haven't stepped inside a bank in years. Today we see small community banks responding by putting more and more services online and available on mobile devices.”

Kirchoff claims that it is a great time to be a small business. Trends show that smaller is now better, and there is going to be real growth in small business.