Consultant Profile: Pamela Free Area Center: Orangeburg Title: Area Manager/Business Consultant Start Date: April 2004
Pamela Free has been a business consultant with the Orangeburg Area Small Business Development Center since April 2004. Free believes in the importance of setting attainable goals which inspire, motivate and encourage her many clients.
Free is proud to live in Orangeburg and is committed to promoting the city and county as a beautiful place to live, work and play. As an active member of several local community service and civic organizations, Free shares this passion for her home turf with a network of professionals inspired to serve their community.
Free’s last name is an apt moniker for her attitude about entrepreneurship and life in general. She sums up her life view with a favorite quote from Southern author Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
To learn more about Pamela, please read the following interview.
QUESTION: What was your career track prior to joining the SC SBDC network? ANSWER: I graduated Cum Laude with a BS degree in Management from Claflin University and began a career as a Warehouse Shipping Manager with Electrolux Home Products. Then I worked as a Math Lab Manager at Claflin University. In 2004, I joined the SC State University SBDC and worked as a Program Coordinator through a grant-funded program for SC Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration with the Disadvantaged Business Entrepreneur Program (DBE) where I was responsible for continuing education training for the DBEs for two years prior to becoming an SBDC consultant.
QUESTION: What motivated you to become an SC SBDC consultant? ANSWER: Assisting individuals with pursing their dreams of business ownership is what highly motivates me to continue working as a SBDC consultant. Individuals in rural areas have very limited access to resources and knowledge and as an SBDC consultant I am able to help individuals become business owners which is nothing short of "AMAZING." QUESTION: What is the best piece of advice you would offer aspiring business owners? ANSWER: Be sure you are highly knowledgeable in the industry you are pursing, network with business-minded individuals, properly market your business, stay abreast of technology and ensure you have sufficient cash flow. What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become through the process. Achieving your goals is a growth process that builds character, insight and a rewarding work ethic.
QUESTION: Do you have a particular area of interest/expertise that you offer clients? ANSWER: After working with the DBE program prior to becoming an SBDC consultant, I took an interest in Minority Certifications. I really enjoy assisting business owners with the certification process and helping to educate them on pursuing federal and state contracts.
QUESTION: Since becoming an SC SBDC consultant, what is your greatest accomplishment? ANSWER: My greatest accomplishments working for the SBDC have been assisting clients with starting their business and knowing that within the next two-to-three years they will still be in business and seeking my services to help them reach the next level.
QUESTION: Why is the SBDC an important resource for small business owners in South Carolina? ANSWER: Small businesses are job creators. They are truly the backbone of local, state and national economies. I know that the success of my clients is important and helps create jobs and nurture economic development.
QUESTION: What is your favorite part about working for the SC SBDC? ANSWER: The appreciation I receive from the clients and their acknowledgement that I have given them highly valuable assistance.
QUESTION: What quote best expresses your philosophy toward work/life? ANSWER: "Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."
QUESTION: What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered while working as a consultant? How did you overcome it? ANSWER: My greatest challenge comes from not being able to help everyone who walks through our doors start their business. Oftentimes, people are not yet prepared to discuss the details of their vision. To help them better prepare, I refer them to other agencies/resources that are better equipped to address their specific needs. QUESTION: What is your approach toward client counseling? ANSWER: My approach to consulting is relatively modest. I work hard to understand and relate to my clients. I believe in the importance of setting attainable goals which inspires, motivates and encourages my clients.
QUESTION: What honors/awards have you won while serving as an SBDC consultant? ANSWER: SC SBDC Leadership Award and National Development Finance Professional Certification. QUESTION: What hobby or activities keep you busy when you’re not assisting clients? ANSWER: I am an active parent of two boys who are involved in sports. I participate in multiple civic organizations and community service projects.