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Company seeks to rev up stalled businesses

SOUTH BURLINGTON — All businesses, organizations and executives face challenges at some point, and Erin Desautels’ recently launched business invites clients to come talk about theirs. Vermont Small Business Accelerators, LLC offers consulting services and a cadre of strategic partners that help organizations and leaders face and address crucial challenges.

“My business card says, ‘share your challenges,’ and that’s really what I want people to do. Tell me what’s not working.”

Following an initial consultation, Desautels helps clients focus on key issues, then crafts a strategy and, when needed, assembles a team to address them. The business’ name reflects her desire to help jump-start and revive sluggish businesses.

“When you come in, it indicates you are stalled — you need to get from here to there,” Desautels said. “I will get you from here to there. It could be myself, or working with partners. And if I know I can’t help, I’ll tell you.”

Vermont Small Business Accelerators, or VSBA, is a project Desautels has had in mind for several years. She left her position in membership, sales and event management at Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce to forge her own path with VSBA.

“At the chamber, I was really assisting businesses in facing challenges and solving their problems,” Desautels said. “I really enjoy that work, and I’ve had this LLC since 2013 and hadn’t used it. I decided the time was right.”

Desautels works with businesses from sole proprietors to large companies in all industries, as well as nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurs and executives.

“One of my clients is an inventor. Another is a philanthropist,” she said.

In each case, her overall approach is similar, but the resulting action plan is highly personalized.

Following an initial consultation, Desautels helps clients focus on key issues, then crafts a strategy and, when needed, assembles a team to address them. The business’ name reflects her desire to help jump-start and revive sluggish businesses.

“Together we find and identify the challenge, then narrow down and focus on what is the core of [the] problem,” Desautels said. “That might mean a 360-degree look at who the client is as a person — focus on what they are actually trying to accomplish.” She the guides her client on a consistent path forward, offering “maintenance along the way.”

Clients find support in an array of key areas, ranging from business development, new-market exploration, market research, business intelligence, marketing and organizational exposure, and partnership development. Desautels also helps facilitate business and government visits and public/private sector connections, as well as event and conference logistics. She emphasized she leverages an extensive network of relationships and connections she has built throughout the business community to assist her clients.

“We leverage relationships to grow your business.” Desautels said. “I am a consultant that builds partnership teams to address your specific challenges. If it’s marketing or exposure issues, I’m great at finding opportunities. I am also fabulous at talent search and helping to fill key positions. I’ve done a lot with manufacturing and workforce training.” For some solutions, it’s a matter of Desautels connecting her client to the appropriate partner.

VSBA’s website reflects a growing list of partners, local to international. Among these are Burlington International Airport, Cole Consulting, Deringer, The University of Vermont, Vermont Tech, Have Your Cake Catering, as well as the Consulate General of Canada and the Quebec Government Office. Desautels said the list will continue to grow, and the website includes a link for potential partners to reach out to VSBA.

A vital part of the solution is the client. According to Desautels, getting un-stalled often requires strong self-examination.

“They might have to refocus,” Desautels said. “Ask, ‘Wait, why are we even doing this?’ If it’s changed, fine, let’s define that. Refocusing the mission is okay, as long as everyone gets it and is on board.”

She emphasized getting everyone on board is crucial for any company or organization with staff.

“There’s an ‘old school’ mentality of top-down management that doesn’t really work, because it means employees are less invested,” she said. “The more they feel ownership, and love where they work and what they do, the more successful the business is. When you look around Vermont and see companies that are doing well, employees are happy, feel valued and feel their ideas matter. A team mentality leads to better products and higher customer satisfaction. And that goes for businesses and nonprofits.”

For Desautels, “Those are the kind of customers I most want to work with. People that want to change the culture of their organization to reflect who they are as a person.”

Desautels not only calls Burlington International Airport home to her offices and a partner to her business, but also lists it as a client. And it is one of those model customers she talks about.

“I love what’s happening here — I find the airport is doing all it can to serve the people of Vermont and visitors. There is a mentality here that this is the people’s airport. The citizens of Burlington pay for this airport, and the mentality of the leadership here is that it is the people’s airport. I really do align with that — the people that work here are happy, They think outside the box and are always look for ways you make the airport even better. They are open to new ideas and not afraid of change.”

A native Vermonter, Desautels cited the state’s manufacturing industry and the role it could play in the Vermont economy.

“I have a special place in my heart for manufacturing, and I think we could do so much more here,” she said. “We have a low unemployment rate and it remains difficult for manufacturers to find the skilled workforce they need. They often look outside the state. I’d like to see how we could implement plans here in Vermont to employ Vermonters. I want to be an accelerator for that.”

Vermont Small Business Accelerators is located at Burlington International Airport, 1200 Airport Drive, Suite 283, in South Burlington. Contact the business at 802-922-0495 or, or visit