Area Center: Florence Title: Business Consultant Start Date: September 2016
QUESTION: What was your career track prior to joining the SC SBDC network? ANSWER: Following graduation from the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism, Robert worked at the Summerville Journal-Scene newspaper as a reporter/photographer. He then worked for the Boy Scouts of America as a District Executive in Charleston and Georgetown, SC. Robert moved backed to Charleston and became a licensed tour guide in the city of Charleston. After four years in the carriage tour industry, he returned to the non-profit field with the Volunteer Center of the Lowcountry as Director of Public Relations. He then transitioned to the American Red Cross, Carolina Lowcountry Chapter as Director of Public Relations and Volunteer Services. After leaving the Red Cross in 2005, Robert continued his non-profit work with the Frances R. Willis SPCA in Summerville as Executive Director. While working there, he resumed giving carriage tours. After seven years at the SPCA, he departed and made the carriage industry his full-time job. During these times, Robert also worked two retail jobs--Inventory Manager at a Pet Supply store and a CSR at Blockbuster Video. In 2016, while working at the carriage company full-time as a licensed tour guide, he got a call from the SBDC.
QUESTION: What motivated you to become an SC SBDC consultant? ANSWER: My friend Bill Henley. He explained the similarities of working at the newspaper and working at the SBDC, which is listening to people tell their stories and identifying resources to help them.
QUESTION: What is the best piece of advice you would offer aspiring business owners? ANSWER: Have a passion for owning your business and have knowledge of the subject you intent to pursue.
QUESTION: Do you have a particular area of interest/expertise that you offer clients? ANSWER: Marketing and public relations, social media, website design.
QUESTION: Since becoming an SC SBDC consultant, what is your greatest accomplishment? ANSWER: Assisting over a dozen entrepreneurs start their businesses and being able to walk into those businesses and see customers enjoying the products or services provided by my client.
QUESTION: Why is the SBDC an important resource for small business owners in South Carolina? ANSWER: It provides the guidance, education and resources that many business owners are seeking.
QUESTION: What is your favorite part about working for the SC SBDC? ANSWER: The opportunity to Team Consult. Not only do we offer the client twice as much knowledge through this opportunity, but I have always learned about new resources through the process.
QUESTION: What quote best expresses your philosophy toward work/life? ANSWER: The Golden Rule.
QUESTION: What is the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a consultant? How did you overcome it? ANSWER: Learning the process of obtaining a small business loan and the management of business finances. I attended several financial workshops at the ASBDC National Conference. I've participated in webinars that focus on the financial management practices of a business.
QUESTION: What is your approach toward client counseling? ANSWER: Listen to the client and address their needs/concerns.