Area Center: Newberry Title: Business Consultant Start Date: March 1, 2019
QUESTION: What was your career track prior to joining the SC SBDC network? ANSWER: The foundation of my career derives from over 30 years in the banking industry. I was employed at several institutions in three states, beginning at a small county-wide bank and culminating with the multi-state Wachovia organization. Over the years I worked in retail banking, back-office operations, systems development, commercial loan and IRA records compliance, project management and, lastly, on mergers & acquisitions teams, serving in multiple line management and staff leadership positions, and retiring as a Senior Vice President. Near the end of that career I embarked on a second career as an entrepreneur. My late husband and I purchased a hundred-year-old historic home in Newberry, SC, restored it and opened a bed & breakfast inn, which we operated successfully for 16 years, and which is still active under new ownership. Near the end of that career, we purchased another historic property, a commercial building on Main Street, Newberry, which we gutted and rehabilitated, creating two revenue-producing retail spaces at street level and a spacious loft-style apartment on the second floor. Throughout my career I have volunteered and served on Boards of several civic and non-profit organizations.
QUESTION: What motivated you to become an SC SBDC consultant? ANSWER: I was familiar with the SBDC office in Newberry and had made many referrals over the years. I was approached by colleagues to apply for the position, and, reflecting on my career trajectory, it seemed like the perfect way to apply my experience for the benefit of my community. Coaching people, solving problems, creating added value for the community are satisfying work for me.
QUESTION: What is the best piece of advice you would offer aspiring business owners? ANSWER: I feel strongly about two things. First, although you should have some knowledge about your chosen industry before you start up or purchase a business, be prepared to keep learning for the rest of your career. Keeping up with societal trends, economic swings and technological innovation is critical in any field. Stay informed. And, secondly, own your business but do not let it own you. Make business decisions that permit you to maintain relationships outside of work. Friends, family, service and faith bring another form of wealth to your life. Live well.
QUESTION: What particular area of interest/expertise do you offer your clients? ANSWER: I managed some large-scale projects in my banking career. I have a talent for looking at the big picture and the long-range horizon. I oversaw two construction projects in my post-banking life. I understand the need for detailed plans, the cost of correcting poor decisions, and the frustrations of uncontrollable delays. I have an enthusiasm for trying new approaches and a tolerance for the necessary paperwork. In short, I think I offer clients, whether they are launching a brand-new business, expanding a successful one or trying to re-group after a set-back, that level-headed ability to ask the tough questions and help to seek solutions. I am particularly interested in new businesses that are innovative, whether it be retail or a small food-service, agricultural or manufacturing venture.
QUESTION: Since becoming an SC SBDC consultant, what is your greatest accomplishment? ANSWER: I have only been a part of the SBDC since March 1st, 2019. I haven’t accomplished anything of significance. I have been learning new things daily, building skills with new software systems, studying the clients assigned to this office and bringing a new client on board. I look forward to making a difference soon.
QUESTION: Why is the SBDC an important resource for small business owners in South Carolina? ANSWER: Small businesses are the heart of a community. Small businesses provide services the community needs, and products the economy wants, but, most importantly, they provide the jobs that enable the citizens to enjoy a good life in their chosen community. The SBDC offers small businesses a means to reach goals and succeed in their endeavors. And It offers the services free, which is hugely important to the growth of the businesses.
QUESTION: What is your favorite part about working for the SC SBDC? ANSWER: I have found the SBDC to be a very collegial group. I have no hesitation about reaching out to other consultants, within my Region or beyond, for information and assistance. I feel empowered to perform my work with the client’s interest foremost.