Sarah Truglio, a certified business advisor with the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and employee of Washington State University, was named the 2020 State Star during the network’s annual spring conference in April.
The State Star award is the network’s top honor and is given to a business advisor who exemplifies the highest standards of professional behavior.
“It’s indicative of Sarah’s commitment to her clients that over the past three years, three of her clients have been recognized for significant achievement by the U.S. Small Business Administration,” said Duane Fladland, state director of the Washington SBDC.
“Whether she is working with clients, with colleagues in the network or with other technical assistance providers, Sarah is always the consummate professional.”
The Washington SBDC is the state’s largest and oldest publicly funded business advising service and has been hosted by Washington State University since 1980. The Washington SBDC network includes nearly 40 business advisors working in communities across the state to assist business owners in just about any industry and at any stage of business development. About half of SBDC advisors are WSU employees. SBDC services are confidential and provided at no cost to the business owner.
Susie Jensen, owner of Wheel Line Cider in Ellensburg, started working with Truglio in 2019.
“Sarah has the unique ability to listen and then guide you at the level of your understanding,” Jensen said. “If one suggestion doesn’t work, she’ll find another. The best part is, she always responds immediately and with enthusiasm and a smile.”
For her part, Truglio says working with small business owners and entrepreneurs feeds her soul.
“Very few people are lucky enough to find a job they really love,” she said. “I am so lucky that I get to do this every day.”
Even during the pandemic, Truglio was grateful for the opportunity to work with business owners looking for information, support or someone to strategize with.
Now, with restrictions starting to ease, Truglio said she is seeing a resurgence of hope.
“The Phoenix rises, that’s what I’m seeing,” she said. “I am seeing an uptick in people who want to start a business. They see an opportunity.”
Whether she’s helping someone start a new business or save an existing business, Truglio believes “creative perseverance” is critical to success, especially when access to capital is limited.
“A lot of my clients don’t take a traditional path to success,” she said. “They find alternative routes and they persist.”
Truglio, who grew up working in family-owned small businesses, started her own small business as a floral designer when she was 22 years old. From the flower business Trulgio moved into event planning and hospitality for about 10 years, and then spent another ten years in economic development with Kittitas County before joining the Washington SBDC.
One thread that ties together floral design, event planning and economic development, she said, is that to be successful, you need to listen to the client and understand what they are trying to accomplish.
“That’s what we do as SBDC advisors,” she said. “We listen to clients and then provide information, tools and resources that enable them to accomplish their own goals, whatever those goals might be.”
SBDC services are funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration at the federal level and by funding from institutions of higher education, economic development agencies, municipal governments, civic organizations and business groups at the state and local level. Truglio is co-located with the Yakima County Development Association which helps fund her position.