In this series, ActionCOACH Mary Ann Hauser (MAH) and team virtually sit down with business owners to learn how they are working through COVID-19. Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic as well as ideas on how to avoid making common mistakes. And be sure to look at special offers from these businesses – we can all use a little extra help right now!
BKN: Coach Beverly Kiser-Nutt
AS: Anne Shaw, State Director of NC Small Business Center
BKN: What do you do, and for how long have you been doing it?
AS: We received funding and started the Small Business Centers at Coastal Carolina Community College in 1986 with 8 colleges as a pilot program. Over the years, community colleges across the state were added. Currently we have 58 of them across North Carolina. We have been helping small businesses for over 30 years. I served as Interim State Director twice when the State Director was deployed overseas with the National Guard. In January 2017, I became State Director for the program.
BKN: How do you get small businesses involved?
AS: We collaborate and form partnerships at local levels with Community Colleges using a curriculum designed for their communities in a very diverse state. We work with Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, Economic Development Groups, downtown merchant groups and city and county governments. Anyone interested in participating can visit our site: http://www.ncsbc.net for more information.
BKN: Who is your best customer?
AS: The economic heroes in our state: innovative small businesses.
BKN: What has been the biggest impact of COVID-19 for you?
AS: Small businesses across the state took a big hit due to COVID-19: many had to close their doors, and some were able to pivot and keep going. Our Spring conference was also shut down, and ironically our focus was “Vision 2020.” Then the world turned upside down, and we are all still figuring out where we are going in the midst of so many unknowns.
BKN: What are 1 or 2 actions you've taken because of the pandemic, and how are they working?
AS: In response to the great need, we moved to put a lot of resources on the ground to help these small business owners keep going. We changed from seated trainings to online webinars. We updated our website with the latest and most helpful information. We worked to insure we had the right people in the right places to help business owners. We have made policy and procedure changes as well to help small businesses survive. We are doing all we can to help them sustain operations and keep going, employing people and providing services to our residents of North Carolina and beyond. I am a one-person show, but have a volunteer leadership team that helps me at the state level. We are getting positive feedback from small businesses who have taken advantage of the PRCF Funding to provide coaching and counseling services to businesses, from finances to marketing, hiring, how to run their businesses profitably, and creating systems for managing the work flow. This funding is available until December, and there is still time for small businesses to take advantage – they can go to our website to get the process started.
BKN: What has been your biggest learning working with Small Businesses across the state of NC?
AS: It is okay to delegate and ask for help. Stop and listen to make sure all options are examined. Use the talent and resources around you well! Remember how talented these Small Business Center directors are and listen to them always.
BKN: What is most inspiring to you today?
AS: The resilience of small business owners and their determination to keep going!