Marla Trollan: A passion for small business
Marla Trollan’s passion for small business success runs in her blood. Born and raised in Juneau, Alaska, Trollan worked at her mom’s local bookstore during her high school years, watched her dad operate a contracting business and saw her brother-in-law run a successful seafood company.
She’s lived in Utah for several years now and wants to create an environment where small business owners can find the resources they need to succeed. After being named the SBA’s district director for the Utah District Office in November 2017, Trollan has the opportunity to do just that.
With an extensive background in communications, Trollan wants to ensure the SBA office works to establish strong community partnerships to create jobs, spur innovation and boost the state’s already booming economy by increasing the profile of the SBA through expanded marketing and branding efforts.
She’s challenged the SBA staff to actively engage with partners, highlight small business success stories in Utah and encourage business owners to invest in their communities to create jobs and economic wellbeing for residents, especially in rural locations.
“I have a passion for wanting to help small business owners be successful in Utah, both in urban and rural areas,” she says. “We want to ensure businesses in the rural areas have the same access to resources that the small businesses have in Salt Lake City. Small businesses drive job creation and innovation across our state’s economy and we are committed to providing these entrepreneurs the tools and resources they need to be successful.”
Being new to the agency, Trollan says she has a bit of a learning curve but she’s worked at senior-level positions for a variety of federal agencies, serving in public affairs and communications roles, so she excepts to get up to speed in no time.
Creating networking and outreach opportunities for the SBA was a big draw for her as she feels it’s the only way to connect with business leaders in Utah. “We really want to increase the visibility of SBA and that’s a priority for the administrator as well. The marketing and communications component I bring to the office is going to increase the visibility of SBA across the state and ensure folks know about our products and services.”
Trollan also wants to bring attention to the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative, which offers free training to executives who are ready to take their business to the next level. The program provides close to 100 hours of classroom training and connects business owners with mentors, financial advisors and experienced leaders to help increase business growth.
Part of her role includes coordinating with different organizations, like the Women’s Business Center, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and local chambers and business centers to consolidate efforts and create a “one-stop shop” for business owners.
She’s encouraged by the number of women entrepreneurs in the state and is committed to helping them find funding, partnership opportunities and mentors who will allow them to thrive.
“I’ve always been a collaborator and communicator, including in the various leadership roles I’ve held throughout my career,” Trollan says. “There’s nothing more rewarding than connecting and aligning people to achieve a shared mission and organizational goals. I like to engage with others, be open to their ideas and diverse opinions, while empowering them to lead from where they are in their position.”