AUBURN, Wash.– The Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has named Taryn Hornby, an SBDC small business advisor at Green River College in Auburn, the network’s 2022 State Star. She will be honored for this achievement at the America’s SBDC annual conference in Nashville in September.
“Our annual State Star award is intended to recognize business advisors who exemplify the mission, vision and values of our network and Taryn is well-deserving of this honor,” said Washington SBDC State Director Sheryl McGrath. “Her commitment to her clients and her focus on results set a high bar for everyone around her. She shines bright in the SBDC network.”
Hornby, a native of Chicago, joined the Washington SBDC as an expert business advisor in 2018 after more than 15 years in banking and financial services. Hornby also owned her own businesses for 18 years.
She is one of more than 40 SBDC advisors who provide no-cost, one-on-one assistance to business owners at any stage of business development and in just about every industry. While every SBDC advisor is expected to assist their clients with diverse challenges from business plans and marketing to strategic planning and cashflow management, Hornby has become one of the network’s go-to experts on loan acquisitions.
“I really enjoy using my past career experiences to help others,” Hornby said. For nearly 15 years, she sourced commercial loans between $5M and $100M. Now working with small business owners, the loans are smaller, but the evaluation process is similar.
“I’ve become good at reading between the lines to find the real story of a business’s strengths and weaknesses and then offering strategic solutions,” she said.
Most small business owners have only seen the financial data on their own small business, but as a banker Hornby reviewed financial data from hundreds, if not thousands of businesses, and she saw what works and what doesn’t work. “I’ve had much more business exposure than the typical small business owner,” she said, and she uses that perspective to help guide small business owners to data-driven decisions.
“Honestly, it brings me joy,” she said. “I get to talk about business all day, help people achieve their goals, and I am able to offer my services at no cost to them.”
In 2022, Hornby worked provided technical assistance to more than 155 small business owners and those owners credited her with helping them access more than $8,185,930.00 million in capital. Her clients were also able to start 8 businesses and create or save more than 115 jobs.
“Taryn has been a supportive, wealth of information,” said Lucy Jarvis, owner of Graceful Cedars Skin Care. Jarvis was required to close her business two different times because of COVID restrictions, she said, and working with Taryn helped her save her business. “She is an A+ in my business world.”
Kelly Cain, owner of Cain’s Parking Lot Services, also started working with Hornby in the early days of the pandemic. “I was overwhelmed by the PPP application,” Cain said, “but Taryn helped us through the process.” Hornby also kept Cain and her husband updated on any new grants or information that might be useful to their business. “We really appreciate her professionalism and commitment in getting us through a really tough time for small businesses,” she said.
Hornby said she originally planned to be an accountant. After getting an accounting degree from the University of Illinois, the top school in the country for accounting at that time, she went on to earn an MBA and passed the CPA exam. She then started working in auditing for a finance company. From there she moved to sales where she helped source loans up to $100M.
“I found it fascinating to see why top people in their industry made the decisions they did,” she said. While the small business owners she works with now typically apply for loans from $1M to $5M, she’s seen the transformational difference it can make for their business.
Hornby said she appreciates that, as an SBDC advisor, she has no agenda other than helping clients succeed. “They get to define their version of success,” she said. “My job is to help them achieve their goals, not set their goals.
“I also like that we don’t charge our small business owners who have limited resources and competing demands for where to spend their money,” she said. “That gives me the freedom to be completely honest in my assessments or recommendations.”
Hornby is one of nearly 40 SBDC advisors across the state, and one of two SBDC advisors located at Green River College. Kevin Grossman is the SBDC advisor at Green River College in Kent.
Hornby said the collaboration across the SBDC network benefits both advisors and clients. While SBDC clients are assigned a primary advisor, advisors often co-advise with a client when a client has a specific need that another advisor has more experience in.
“Everybody gives so freely of themselves,” she said. “There’s no competition among advisors, it’s all collaboration on behalf of clients.”
Currently, she continues to create synergies between the SBDC, Green River College, area cities, Chambers of Commerce, economic development agencies and referral sources. Being part of a collaborative small business ecosystem allows her to provide not only one-on-one technical assistance, but also offer a full circle of ideas and assistance to small business owners.
The Washington SBDC is managed through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Washington State University, which is the statewide host of the SBDC program. SBDC advisors are located in more than two dozen communities across the state. About half the funding for SBDC services comes from the SBA and the other half state and local sources, including Washington State Department of Commerce, WSU, other institutions of higher education—including Green River College—economic development agencies and business and civic organizations or municipalities.
For more about the Washington SBDC, go to www.wsbdc.org.