Sno-Isle Libraries offers a number of business classes throughout the year. Above, an attendee at a recent class at Coupeville Library takes notes on a presentation.

Library series aiding small business owners

Small business owners and entrepreneurs can now find even more support through their local library thanks to Sno-Isle’s Strategic Focus initiative.

Though the libraries have offered business support services for decades, the plan is targeted specifically toward assisting those setting forth on enterprising ventures as individuals or as part of small groups.

Of the over 100 free business classes offered throughout Sno-Isle annually, Oak Harbor Library is offering a series of workshops to help current and prospective business people to jump-start their new venture.

Anna Rohrbough, a certified leadership development coach and speaker, presented the first of these four workshops, entitled “Creating a Breakthrough in Your Business,” Oct. 25.

Rohrbough drew from her 15-plus years as a business owner and direct sales leader to speak to attendees about the pillars of leadership, and how to decipher and harness their passions and strengths to pave a pathway to success.

One of the most essential facets of the training, Rohrbough said, is the concept that in order to lead, one has to lead oneself first.

“People don’t understand they are already leaders in their life,” she said, adding that it is part of her objective to help attendees to recognize this and take initiative.

It’s a lesson Rohrbough said she learned at an early age, taking note of her father’s approach to empowering her and her brothers to trust in themselves and discover and utilize their own strengths.

“The biggest obstacle is ourselves,” she said. “A lot of times we try to do more things from the outside: get more programs, more education. But it’s really finding out who we are, listening to our own life.”

There is a reason people feel inclined to step out, to disrupt the status quo, she said, and it is important to take action on this urge in order to decipher the next step.

Mary Campbell, managing librarian at Oak Harbor Library, attended Rohrbough’s workshop and said it was “enlightening.”

Campbell explained that Sno-Isle developed the Strategic Focus plan about three years ago after two years of research and consultations with community members and stakeholders to determine what angle the library should pursue in bolstering its support services.

Small business emerged as a prevalent area of interest. In turn, Kassy Rodeheaver was hired as lead librarian of business services, helping to develop programs like these workshops to better serve the community.

“Businesses can make great use of the library’s market research tools and print and online directories to find out information on their competitors and potential customers,” Rodeheaver wrote in an email. “We help them navigate the big data for small businesses that can give them the competitive edge in the marketplace.”

With about 40,000 people residing in the Oak Harbor area, Cambell said, there is plenty of need for services.

“Then with the college and Navy here, there is always a lot of opportunity,” she said. “We have a sophisticated group of people that knows how to look at not just local needs but needs all over the country and the world.”

The second part of the four-part workshop series took place Tuesday. The third will happen at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, facilitated by Bob Hale from Entrepreneur’s Source, who will discuss how to be your own boss.

Each course features a different speaker and a different topic. Maya Sullivan will present the final workshop, with a focus on discovering one’s passion and determining the right business or industry in which to pursue a fulfilling future.

Doors open at 8:30 with time set for networking and refreshments, provided by Friends of the Oak Harbor Library.

Though registration is encouraged, Campbell said drop-ins are also welcome.

Oak Harbor Library also works in conjunction with the Island County Economic Development Council to offer a monthly business class entitled “How to Start a Business.”

This course introduces attendees to Sno-Isle’s resources and how to develop a plan using Small Business Administration guidelines.

“Libraries have a breadth of information for people,” Rohrbough said.

“If they have any inkling of starting a business or sharpening their skills, any workshop will help them move forward.”