Consultant Profile: Eduardo Venegas Mejias Area Center: Rock Hill Title: Business Consultant Start Date: August 2012
Eduardo Venegas grew up helping his parents with their hotel business in Costa Rica. He became closely involved over the years, watching as his parents learned the hard way about the process of developing their own business. Eduardo said that their dedication and passion rewarded them with success in the end.
“It taught me how starting from the bottom could be a challenging, but rewarding experience,” Eduardo said. “My parents’ business was also my home. It was in this setting that I developed leadership skills by helping customers and solving problems. Most important, this responsibility instilled a strong work ethic and built self-worth, qualities that have been of much help later in my personal and professional life.”
One of his favorite quotes is the old Japanese proverb, “Vision without action is a dream. Action without a vision is a nightmare.” Eduardo has a goal to encourage clients to move toward their vision by taking the right action and working at the SBDC has allowed Eduardo to fulfill his personal aspiration of helping to open doors for others.
To learn more about Eduardo, who is this quarter’s featured consultant, please read the below interview.
QUESTION: What was your career track prior to joining the SC SBDC network? ANSWER: Prior to joining the SBDC, while going through college, I co-founded and managed my own company in Costa Rica. This business is a travel agency. We mainly focused on the North American market. The company provides personalized itineraries and travel arrangement services for those visiting Costa Rica. During my time with the company I developed a greater national presence and established strong commercial relationships with stake holders.
Upon graduation (obtained a bachelor degree in computer systems engineering), I joined the University of Georgia (UGA) campus where I assisted with travel arrangements and other logistics for 22+ UGA study abroad programs. During my time with UGA Costa Rica, I held different positions, including Logistics and IT Manager, and Assistant Manager for the campus. I developed their IT department from the ground-up and got more involved in managing campus operations.
QUESTION: What motivated you to become an SC SBDC consultant? ANSWER: As part of my graduate studies at Winthrop University, I had the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant (GA) at the SC SBDC. During the time as a GA, I was exposed for the first to this type of job. It was this experience that allowed me to realize how much I enjoy educating and assisting the business community.
Working at the SC SBDC also made me reflect on my parents’ business experience. Both my parents are entrepreneurs, and they started their first business when I was seven years old. Growing up, I saw first-hand the challenges of being an entrepreneur and starting a business. I realize now how much easier this process would have been if they would have had access to a service like the SC SBDC. This realization is what motivated me to become a SC SBDC consultant. QUESTION: What is the best piece of advice you would offer aspiring business owners? ANSWER: Make sure to set S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound) goals for the business and budget WORKING CAPITAL!!
QUESTION: Do you have a particular area of interest/expertise that you offer clients? ANSWER: Business and financial planning. Use and adoption of new technologies (i.e., social media and digital marketing (Google maps, Constant Contact, etc).
QUESTION: Since becoming an SC SBDC consultant, what is your greatest accomplishment? ANSWER: Driving through the different communities and seeing multiple businesses that, in one way or the another, you have contributed to their success through the work that you have done over the years with the SC SBDC.
QUESTION: Why is the SBDC an important resource for small business owners in South Carolina? ANSWER: Because the SC SBDC provides small business owners with resources and tools that are key in the success of their business. Without the assistance that the SC SBDC provides to these businesses, they may have a more difficult time in getting to their goals.
QUESTION: What is your favorite part about working for the SC SBDC? ANSWER: The interaction with clients and exposure to so many different business scenarios and issues.
QUESTION: What quote best expresses your philosophy toward work/life? ANSWER: "Before you ask which way to go, remember where you have been."
QUESTION: What is your approach toward client counseling? ANSWER: I listen carefully, assess, ask questions, listen again. I mentor them, help the client understand and realize the best path for them to follow. QUESTION: What honors/awards have you won while serving as an SBDC consultant? ANSWER: 2013 SBDC Outstanding Student Contributor Award, 2017 SC SBDC Prism Award, 2018 SC SBDC Leadership Award QUESTION: What hobby or activities keep you busy when you’re not assisting clients? ANSWER: I love to travel with my spouse. I enjoy reading and learning new things I also like photography. While exploring new places, I am also capturing landscapes and memories through a lens.