LUMBERTON — Whether it’s a desire to be one’s own boss, a need for a backup plan in case of job loss or a wish to supplement income, people go into business for themselves for a variety of reasons.
Bob Moore, director of the Small Business Center Robeson Community College’s Workplace Development Center, said no matter the reason for starting a small business, his office can offer help through one-on-one confidential and free seminars.
“Normally people will look toward entrepreneurship because they want to be the destiny of their own time, their own money,” Moore said. “Normally it’s the time and money aspects they want to control.”
The center is part of a statewide network of small business centers created and funded by the General Assembly more than 30 years ago at all 58 community colleges.
Moore said estimates show that small businesses — defined as fewer than 500 employees — provide about 95 percent of jobs in the state. At RCC, Moore offers nearly 70 free seminars each year that range from a management series that includes social media marketing, time management, how to protect patents, trademarks and copyrights to home-based businesses.
Moore mentioned one seminar with an intriguing title: “Why Do People Act Crazy at Work?” with presenter Mike Collins.
“He goes into different personality types and once you understand the personality types and how different types think and what’s important to them, you understand why at work sometimes they act so crazy,” Moore said. “To them it’s normal but to you, it’s not your type.”
The one-on-one counseling is a vital component of the program, Moore said, especially when people are thinking of opening up a business.
“The interest is quite high and it has been for quite some time,” Moore said, “especially since we have had, in this particular region, so many cases where people became unemployed as the textile industry and tobacco industry jobs went away.”
Even people who have found other forms of employment still consider entrepreneurship as either a secondary source of income or as backup plan.
“If they become unemployed again,” Moore said, “they can still have income coming in.”
Moore said he never advises a client that they shouldn’t embark on a particular plan.
Instead he helps guide them through a process of getting all the information needed to make a financially sound decision.
During the counseling, Moore said he goes over the personal finances with his client.
“That means I have to ask you about your credit,” Moore said. “I have to ask you about your debt because before we send you to a lender, not only we need to know that you’ve got a well-written business plan — that the idea is feasible and you have the experience to borrow the money — but we also need to know that when they look at your credit, your debt-to-income ratio, when they look at your disposable income, that all of this is going to be favorable as well. When they go to the bank we want them to hear ‘yes,’ not ‘no’ and then we can move forward.”
The offices at the Small Business Center are located at the Workplace Development Center at RCC and include a resource room where those who have no or limited Internet access can work on their plans. The space sometimes serves as a place for private investors to meet with clients, he said. It has conference rooms and meeting rooms.
To find out more about the Small Business Center, and to view a complete schedule of upcoming seminars, go to www.robeson.edu/small-business-center/ or call 910-272-3631.
Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.