PCC SMALL BUSINESS CENTER PROVIDES FREE & ACCESSIBLE KNOWLEDGE
by Shareen Berkowitz
Pitt Community College’s Small Business Center (SBC) is committed to helping prospective and existing small business owners in our community succeed. By supporting and contributing to growth of the local economy the SBC exists to help small businesses start, grow and thrive, which elevates our community. A successful small business environment leads to job creation and retention in Pitt County.
The SBC is a part of the North Carolina Small Business Center Network (SBCN), which maintains an SBC at each of the 58 community colleges in North Carolina, the most extensive state-funded small business assistance program in the nation.
The free services offered at the SBC are available to anyone in Pitt County, with no enrollment requirement. From insightful seminars, resources and referral services to confidential one-on-one business counseling, the SBC is open to the local community to receive assistance, tools and knowledge needed to start, maintain and grow a small business.
“When people come to us for help, they are bringing us their dream,” says Anne Shaw, Director of the Small Business Center Network. “They are asking us to walk with them on their path to their dream. That’s such a privilege and honor to be able to help people nurture and grow and turn their dream into a reality. Beyond the privilege of serving entrepreneurs, it’s a responsibility we take seriously. Our business advisors are experienced in planning, operations, marketing and financial matters and they help entrepreneurs make good decisions to successfully start and grow their businesses.”
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.
The SBC currently offers free counseling to over 200 clients and offers more than 125 free business seminars each year, which have an annual attendance of over 1500 attendees. Educational opportunities cover a wide range of topics from building a solid business plan, what it takes to be a business owner to refining and growing your business and network. Foundational topics are offered on a rotating monthly basis, while specialized seminars focusing on areas such as print and social media marketing or website design vary each semester depending on what’s trending.
The SBC maintains a Business Resource Library that is open to its clients and seminar attendees. It is designed for use while preparing business/marketing plans, conducting market/industry research, and learning new tools to help run your business more efficiently. The library is open during normal business hours. wIt is equipped with computers that have internet access, sample business plans, business reference materials, business/industry publications and how-to books. There is also a photocopier available for ten cents per copy for your convenience.
PCC’s SBC counsels an average of 220 clients per year and assists in the start-up of about 30 businesses annually, which equates to approximately one new business every 12 days.
Nationwide, 80% of small businesses fail within the first three years of business, with a total of only 4% surviving after five years. In NC, small business owners who maintain a relationship with a business counselor have a survival rate of 48%.
The Pitt Community College Small Business Center is located at 3107 South Memorial Drive in Greenville. To make an appointment with a small business counselor, call 252.493.7388. For more information about the North Carolina Small Business Network, and for a schedule of upcoming seminars, visit www.ncsbc.net.
Shareen Berkowitz is a Small Business Counselor at Pitt Community College’s Small Business Center. She also serves on the Professional Development committee for the Small Business Center Network. Shareen is a self-proclaimed “professional networker” which compliments and enhances her expertise in the areas of growing a business through connections, social media marketing, and event planning with a focus on building strong relationships.
Get answers to all of your business start-up questions.
• I think I have a good business idea, now what?
• How do I know if I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
• How do I prepare to open my business?
• I found start-up information on-line. How do I know what is reliable?
• Where can I find free resources to help me start my business?
• What are the keys to success for a small business owner?
• How do I write a business plan?
• Do I still need to write a business plan if I’m not applying for a loan?
• Are there any grants available to help me start my business?
• Where do I look for startup capital or a business loan?
• What licenses and permits might I need to start my business?
• What legal structure should I form for my business?
• Where can I receive low (or no) cost training?
• Will my counselor guide me through each step?
• Am I able to come for assistance after I open my business?
• How do I find and market to my target audience?