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Entrepreneurs gather for Small Business Success Forum

KANNAPOLIS — For Barbara Hall, director of the Small Business Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Small Business Week is about recognizing the time, effort, energy and passion of small business owners.

But her work goes far beyond this recognition. On Tuesday, she coordinated a day of relaxation, networking and education for business owners in Rowan and Cabarrus counties. It was the center’s first Small Business Success Forum, held at Kannapolis City Hall.

About 90 small business professionals attended the forum, hosted by the Small Business Center’s Network and Small Business and Technology Development Center. Nearly half of them, said Hall, were individuals already familiar with and using the Rowan-Cabarrus center.

“Some of those 90 may be here with staff, but we’re talking one or two employees,” Hall said. “When it comes to small businesses, these aren’t the people that have the number of staff needed to keep the business running and be here, and they can’t shut down.”

Accordingly, she said, Tuesday’s participants represented the counties’ true entrepreneurs, with many of them having just four or fewer employees.

The Rowan-Cabarrus center works with small business owners to help start and grow small business by providing what Hall called “readily accessible assistance” such as education, resources and referrals, she said. It is one of 58 similar centers across North Carolina, a unique facet of the state’s community college system.

Tuesday’s forum brought education, resources and the chance to network to a central location, featuring nine different workshops on how to start, run and grow business from the ground up.

Michah Vanderburg and Meghann Hasty, with MicahVan Signature Homed, said they have been working with Hall since they launched their kitchen and bathroom retail business two and a half years ago.

The Small Business Center helped with all facets of business startup, said Vanderburg: setting up a limited liability corporation, picking a location, purchasing products — the list goes on.

For both Vanderburg and Hasty, the best part of Tuesday’s forum was the opportunity to network.

“I think we can get into the daily grind of our customers and our employees and forget that there are others like us out there,” said Hasty. “It’s really nice to be able to just get together in seminars like this and get to know other people.”

Other forums covered topics such as financing, management and marketing.

Michael Moore, a business adviser with the Small Business and Technology Development Center and one of the workshop presenters, helped attendees “shift from being a business owner to  having a business model.”

He said many failed businesses are the result of owner burnout as they try to manage all aspects of their business alone.

And many sessions helped participants learn how to rise above in an ever-growing entrepreneurial boom. The key, according to many speakers, is finding and highlighting what makes each endeavor unique.

“Doing what we do, we’re a dime a dozen,” said Vanderburg. “If you’re strictly looking at commodity, there’s a lot of people that do what we do. We have to find that one ‘it’ factor that brings customers to us.”



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