Consultant Profile: Sloane Steedley Area Center: Orangeburg Title: Agribusiness Specialist Start Date: June 3, 2019
QUESTION: What was your career track prior to joining the SC SBDC network? ANSWER: Prior to joining the SC SBDC I worked as the Farmers Market Coordinator for the Family Health Centers, Inc. in Orangeburg, SC. I managed the farmers market for two locations, their Orangeburg and Denmark markets. I was responsible for promoting the market, community engagement, new vendor and volunteer recruitment and recordkeeping.
QUESTION: What motivated you to become an SC SBDC consultant? ANSWER: Knowing that I could help make a difference in my community is what motivated me to become an SC SBDC Consultant. Specializing in Agribusiness was a bonus! I am also passionate about supporting small business and there is no better way to support them than working with them every step of the way to reach each goal and succeed in owning a small business which in turn, helps the community prosper.
QUESTION: What is the best piece of advice you would offer aspiring business owners? ANSWER: If you're not business savvy, find a consultant. If you are business savvy, find a consultant. Starting your own business is no easy feat, but having a consultant to help guide you in the right direction makes it much easier. Consultants are there to make sure you stay on track and are covering all of your bases. Also-- don't put the cart before the horse.
QUESTION: Do you have a particular area of interest/expertise that you offer clients? ANSWER: Agribusiness is my area of expertise. If you are interested in starting a farm we offer services in farm planning, direct marketing and finance. If you're looking to expand your farm we offer services in transitioning to wholesale, connecting growers to buyers, product extension, GAP certification and farm safety education. We help with business and marketing plans and finding funding through grants and loans.
QUESTION: Since becoming an SC SBDC consultant, what is your greatest accomplishment? ANSWER: Since becoming an SC SBDC consultant, I have worked diligently to organize a local food hub in Orangeburg and it will launch in October 2019. This program allows local growers and farmers to connect with local buyers in the community who will benefit the most from fresh fruits and vegetables.
QUESTION: Why is the SBDC an important resource for small business owners in South Carolina? ANSWER: The SBDC is an important resource for small business owners because we offer all of the business consulting services without the expensive fees and oftentimes people interested in starting a business do not have available funds to cover these costs. Other times clients lack the knowledge of knowing where to begin but we can push them in the right direction and be there every step of the way.
QUESTION: What is your favorite part about working for the SC SBDC? ANSWER: My favorite part about working for the SC SBDC is knowing that every day is an open opportunity to help better my community.
QUESTION: What quote/saying/maxim best expresses your approach toward work and/or life? ANSWER: Teamwork makes the dream work! A body is only as good as it's working parts.
QUESTION: What is your approach toward consulting? ANSWER: I begin by letting the client speak. I need to know their story so I can better assist them with what they need. If I do know the answers, we begin to put together a plan with a task list. If I don't know the answers, I will send them to someone who does. Either way, the client does not leave without a next step.
QUESTION: What keeps you busy when you’re not at work? What is your hobby/passion? ANSWER: If I'm not at work, most likely I'm spending time with my garden, pets, partner or family. I keep a small garden and take care of 4 dogs, 2 cats and a Sulcata tortoise. My hobbies include teaching hula-hoop dance fitness classes and creating jewelry and other DIY projects, fishing and playing pool. The goal is to one day build a self- sustainable homestead.