Plugging In: Owning It

BCC’s Small Business Center helps entrepreneurs

W2w April ScottNo seven-year itch for APRIL SCOTT. The director of Brunswick Community College’s Small Business Center is still in love with her job, which she’s held since 2016. Over that time, she’s worked with many small business owners and entrepreneurs to launch or boost their ventures.

In the past fiscal year, Scott has guided thirty entrepreneurs who’ve called on the free services of the Small Business Center (SBC).

“It doesn’t sound like a ton, but, for most of them, there are quite a lot of steps to get there,” she says. “I sit with some of them for an hour or two, and they are up and running. Others, I work with them for six months, especially if they need financing.”

Scott is both coach and conductor, pulling in an orchestra of resources tuned to a particular client’s situation.

When someone needs specialized advice and wisdom, she turns to her partner organizations such as SCORE and UNCW’s Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC). She’s apt to connect people wanting to launch a food-related business with Block Eatz, an incubator for food entrepreneurs that’s a partnership between Genesis Block and Cape Fear Community College’s Small Business Center. (Click here for more local resources.)

Jerry Coleman, director of CFCC’s SBC, is himself a resource for any of Scott’s clients who want to start or grow a manufacturing business.

“The (startup) basics are the same for some companies, but sometimes I refer clients to guest counselors who have reached out to me,” Scott says. “There are also marketing companies in town I connect clients with.”

One client Scott remembers clearly was a small-engine repairman with more than twenty years of experience whose employer shut down. The company referred its former employees to BCC’s Small Business Center, as mandated by law.

This client “felt he was too old to get a new job, but it was clear that he knew his stuff: I could tell it was spewing from his DNA,” Scott recalls. “I asked him why he didn’t start his own business, and he told me he’s not a business owner.”

Scott explained that his small-engine repair skills would be in demand and that she and her partners could teach him the business side. “I could see the light bulb go off,” she adds.

This client, like many others, believed that a person needs a lot of money and perhaps a college degree to become a business owner. Scott tries to dispel those misconceptions. Sure, one client needed $50,000 to launch his enterprise, but that was a more complex venture.

“Some clients can launch with as little as $500,” she says, citing a woman who started a dog-sitting business, needing money only to become registered and insured, and to purchase a fanny pack to hold dog treats.

What is needed, Scott believes firmly, is a business plan. Although some clients don’t feel it is necessary, experience has shown Scott that taking an idea from concept to execution requires a roadmap, and that sometimes that map shows the road is lined with potholes.

Brunswick’s SBC offers another valuable resource: space for emerging businesses. The Leland-based Business and Industry Incubator contains coworking space that’s open six days a week. It can seat twenty people in a shared open-office environment with basic resources for clients.

The incubator also has three garage-type bays in which clients can manufacture goods or operate a distribution business. Emerging businesses can lease one of the bays for up to three years at below-market rates.

“To help tenants, we have a ‘success team’ with members of the small business world, like attorneys and bankers,” Scott says. “This crew of people put their arms around the tenant and help develop their business, working with them in areas where they are not strong.

“The goal is that when (tenants) leave, the things they weren’t strong in before they are strong in now. They are more financially structured and able to rent space with the money they saved by paying low rates with us. It’s been quite interesting to see tenants come in and see how they grow.”

To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to

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Categories: Women to Watch