Did you have any “game-changing” resources or tools that helped you start or grow? Why was that resource a game-changer for you?
Throughout the process, I have come across numerous game-changing resources and tools that have been instrumental to my progress. I am always eager to share
these valuable insights with others, especially in Columbia, where a wealth of exceptional resources is available, many of which don’t cost a thing.
I highly recommend SCORE, a volunteer consulting program where retired CEOs and executives generously offer their time and expertise. Their website provides a treasure trove of information, including videos, PowerPoints, and articles, covering various aspects of running a business. When I first embarked on my entrepreneurial journey after being laid off, SCORE was one of my initial go-to resources for understanding the
intricacies of business operations.
Another invaluable resource is the Small Business Development Center, which is present nationwide and often affiliated with universities. In my case, I benefited from the guidance and consultation provided by the center tied to the University of South Carolina. They offer no-cost consultations on diverse topics such as marketing, finance, and even navigating government contracts or international trade. If a specific resource is not available at your local center, they will go the extra mile to find the necessary support for your needs.
Additionally, the Office of Business Opportunity at both the city and county levels has proven to be an excellent resource for small businesses. Personally, I have partnered with the South County DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) program and obtained certification, which not only provides technical assistance but also allows me to contribute by delivering training sessions to fellow entrepreneurs. The support and opportunities offered through these programs have been invaluable to my business growth and development.
Thinking about the local entrepreneurial community or ecosystem, what do you believe is working well? What do you think is missing or a gap that needs to be filled?
There are aspects that are working well here in Columbia and others that require attention. One strength lies in the variety of programs and services available, such as
the minority business accelerated program hosted by the Chamber and the USC technology incubator, which offers valuable programming and support. Initiatives like
GrowCo bring together multiple entrepreneurs through their annual event, fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit.
However, a challenge arises when these programs operate in silos, lacking a holistic approach. It is crucial to ensure that entrepreneurs are aware of the range of resources and opportunities available to them. For instance, the library provides services for entrepreneurs, and the small business development center offers no-cost assistance. I aim to bridge this gap by sharing information about these programs with our members and the wider community. Creating a cohesive ecosystem where each program is aware of and connected to others will greatly benefit entrepreneurs by ensuring they have comprehensive access to the resources and support they need to thrive.