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Business Advising

The SBDC offers long-term, in-depth, no cost counseling for existing and start-up businesses in both English and in Spanish. The center has counselors who specialize in the following areas:

Accounting, Loan Documentation and Business Taxes
The center gives clients the technical assistance to successfully complete loan documentation. While the center cannot give tax advice, it helps small businesses set up and refine its financial operations.

Business Plans
Instruction in creating business plans, as well as ongoing review, helps clients create a road map to successful business. A business plan is made up of the history of the company, demographics, operations, administration, financial, products/services, economic considerations and marketing. Clients learn to compare actual business results against projections on a regular basis to gain the business plan’s full value.

Capital Sourcing
Knowledge relating to obtaining capital from private or institutional sources aids in finding appropriate funding and helps clients assess their qualifications to obtain loans.

The center offers information to assist small businesses through the procedures of selling to government agencies. Learn to qualify and bid on government contracts.

Product Pricing
Review of the product pricing, product mix and gross margin contribution can assist business owners in focusing on their most profitable products to enhance their sales figures.

Marketing/Advertising/Public Relations
Creation of a cohesive marketing plan and knowledge of marketing techniques can lead to improvement and expansion of sales. Learn to promote your business using various media, advertising, and public relations techniques.

Restaurant Operations
Expertise in food services areas such as menus, equipment and pricing aid the restaurant owner in a highly competitive field.

Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights & New Product Development
Information relating to intellectual property helps a business protect products, logos and business names with trademarks, copyrights and patents. New product development gives clients ways to transform their ideas into marketable products.

Human Resources
Experience and knowledge relating to the organization, recruitment and delegation of responsibility to employees will improve day-to-day business operations.

Business Start-Up/Home-Based Businesses
Start-up business ventures profit from information relating to the sound business practices necessary to begin a business, as well as such necessities as license and permit requirements.

Manufacturers profit from an implementation of finely tuned cost controls, product lines and distribution. Our counselors’ years of expertise in the manufacturing field help clients accurately assess their businesses.

International Trade
Clients can gain an understanding of international trade, marketing and management techniques, as well as tools for cross-cultural communication.


All advising is free of charge

Consulting Staff

Our highly qualified business  consultants are professionals with extensive small business experience.  They can provide valuable assistance in almost every aspect of running a business.

Mary Cervantes
Business Services Director
Manages, supervises, and markets SBDC programs and services in both Napa and Sonoma Counties.  Provides assistance with all aspects of business planning and development. 

Valerie Bible
Administrative Assistant
Provides information about SBDC services and interviews clients to determine needs.

John DeGaetano
John DeGaetano is a former bank executive with a strong background in management and leadership. DeGaetano has extensive experience in administration, marketing, sales planning, training, operations, auditing, project management and financial analysis. John most recently served as First Vice President and Regional Manager for a community bank in the bay area where he played a major role in the bank’s growth development. During his tenure, he designed and implemented marketing concepts, sales campaigns, training programs, client consulting and business development, operational functions, fraud awareness and security policy. John is a graduate of Ohio University in Athens with a Bachelor of Arts degree and was on the Business Deans Honor List. John advises new and existing business owners in the areas of planning, sales and marketing, legal structure and finance.  He services businesses in Marin and Sonoma Counties.

Evert Fernandez
Evert Fernandez is a bilingual, English/Spanish, small business consultant. He has an extensive background in sales, marketing, financial planning, training, presentation and customer service. He is experienced in a variety of corporate environments with small, mid and fortune 500 companies. He has exceptional success in community involvement, projects, events and fund raising. In addition, he is a founding member of the Sonoma County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Evert meets with clients in Santa Rosa.
Herb Liberman
Herb Liberman’s consulting work at the SBDC involves the following areas of expertise: human resource management, business start-up strategies, business plan development, acquiring capital through loans, sales and marketing, manufacturing, and finance. He also teaches a course on Business Planning for the SBDC. Herb’s experience in these areas was developed through working in four different business and educational environments. His experience includes working as a teacher and school administrator, including Superintendent of Schools, in public education; Operations Manager for company that manufactured automotive car care products; as well as a Director of a post secondary school, which trained students to be computer programmers, technicians and word processing specialists. His last position, which had a 15-year tenure, was as Vice President of a printing and copying company, which had 300 employees and did $30 million in sales. Following the sale of the company, Herb works part time as a consultant with the SBDC, teaches management courses to graduate students, and is the Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Healdsburg.  He sees clients one on one in our Santa Rosa office.

Anni Minuzzo
Anni Minuzzo has over 30 years experience in the specialty food and beverage industry, 20 of which were spent owning a wholesale baking company. Anni Minuzzo has a broad network of professional associations and a long lens on the culture of food & beverage.  Her products achieved international sales with a customer base that included Williams-Sonoma, Dean & Deluca, Neiman-Marcus, Whole Foods, and 1-800-FLOWERS. For the past 10 years Minuzzo has been sharing her expertise through start-up and expansion workshops for food entrepreneurs in several Northern California Small Business Development Centers.  She also provides one-on-one counseling through this program as well as coaching and consulting on a private basis. Minuzzo is proud of several success stories within her client base:  Peas of Mind, Core Foods, Ancient Organics and Tropical Traders.   Her commitment is simply assisting clients in the realization of their dreams.
Robert Toering
Robert Toering has over a dozen years of experience consulting to CEO’s, business owners and entrepreneurs – providing strategic planning, new business / new product analysis, the development of new products and processes, business plan development and roadmaps for new venture start-up. In addition, Robert’s career includes over a decade as President/CEO of manufacturing and processing companies with 20 to 2,000 employees, and three years in the public sector leading economic development / redevelopment for an industrial city. Robert’s early management career was in new product development – where he directed the creation and commercialization of numerous products. Robert holds a BSME degree from Purdue University and an MS degree from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design.  He meets with clients one on one in our Santa Rosa office.

Janet Wentworth
Janet Wentworth is a small business consultant who works with business owners to help them achieve business success. As the owner of her own marketing company, Janet works with small businesses in a variety of industries, supporting their print and online marketing needs. More than 20 years experience with local technology companies, such as Optical Coating Laboratory, Inc. and Computer Associates, has given her a strong business, accounting and marketing background, with specific expertise in accounting, branding, product marketing, internet marketing, product introductions and partner relationships. She has a B.S. degree from the University of California, Davis; earned certificates in Integrated Online Strategies and Search Engine Marketing and Usability from the University of San Francisco; is a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach; and is a consultant with the SBDC Technology Advisory Program.  Janet meets with clients in Santa Rosa for one on one business counseling.

Cathy Balach
Marketing, Social Media, and Food Certifications
Cathy provides assistance with online and traditional marketing and social media.  She also specializes in Food Managers Safety Training and Food Handler Certification.

Carolynne Gamble
Marketing Advisor
Carolynne provides assistance with graphic design, branding, advertising, marketing strategies, marketing plans, publications and public relations.

Ray Kimball
General Business Consultant
Ray provides assistance with business plans, financing, business valuations, record keeping and general business start-up.

Sandy Stelter
General Business Counselor & Organizing Specialist
Sandy provides assistance with general business and organizing needs, also coordinates the NxLeveL Program.

Jerry Jinnett
Marketing Consultant & Market Research Specialist
Jerry provides assistance with marketing strategies, market research, and marketing plans.  Specializes in home-based business and start-up operations.

Louise Dawson

Restaurant Specialist
Louise provides assistance in all aspects of starting and operating a restaurant.

Tom Camerato
Financial and QuickBooks Specialist
Tom provides assistance with business financials and QuickBooks.

Marie Bianco
Sustainable Ag and Hospitality
Marie provides assistance in the area of sustainable agriculture and hospitality.