Biz Q&A April Scott, BCC Small Business Center
For this Small Business Month edition of the Biz Q&A we spoke with April Scott, Director of the Small Business Center at Brunswick Community College. April is one of our community’s most enthusiastic supporters of small business and her work at the SBC has helped many Brunswick County residents realize their dreams of becoming a business owner.
What is your education background and business experience? I have a bachelor in Business Management with a minor in Leadership and a MBA with a minor in HR Management.
How long have you been at the Small Business Center?
I’m in my sixth year.
What does the Small Business Center do?
The Small Business Center offers free, one-on-one, confidential counseling and training. During counseling, we meet clients where they are and help them through their ideas and deciding if being a business owner is the best fit for them at that time. Starting and running a business is hard work and not for everyone. Our training topics are specific to business owners…bookkeeping, marketing, how to get capital to start/expand your business, taxes, etc.
Who can make use of the Small Business Center’s services? There is a small business center at every community college and they are open to anyone that is in need of the services and resources. We do ask that entrepreneurs request services in the county they reside or that they are interested in starting their business.
What sets Brunswick County apart from other areas in terms of the needs of its small business community?
Brunswick County is a very attractive area to start a business for many reasons. It’s no surprise that we are one of the fastest growing counties in the state — it’s a tourist community, and residential living is on the rise. We have the beach, agriculture, beautiful cultural towns like Southport and Oak Island that attract visitors and residents alike from all over. I get more than a dozen clients a year that say ‘I moved here to retire but not I’m bored and starting a business sounds like a great idea.’ Small businesses are the backbone of this rural community. They help it thrive.
How has the small business community changed during your time at the Center?
Over the years I’ve seen more interest in starting a business and many people from other states who are bringing their business with them. Many have shared how surprisingly easy it is to start a business in NC and how great it is that there is a free service to help them through the process. During the pandemic, there was a great demand for marketing and selling online, especially for those that were accustomed to having customers walk in their door every day.
What are some good first steps for someone looking to venture into entrepreneurship?
Reach out to the Small Business Center for support. There’s lots of information to be found via Google, however it’s not always correct and not personal to individuals and their situations, and most importantly, very often not free like the Small Business Center.
How can the Small Business Center help a more mature, established small business?
There are often growing pains—staffing/HR issues, new technology like social media, grant support, new guidelines or where to start looking for capital to expand. Many of these things are often difficult to keep an eye on when you’re busy working in your business and not on your business.
What brings you the most joy at your job?
This is an easy one…..when a business owner comes to me with a dream and I can see them through the process of making their dream a reality. I’ve met with clients who share they came to me with minimal hope and leave with the encouragement to move forward. I don’t sugar coat the fact that starting and running a successful (this measurement is set by the business owner) business can be tough. There will be days they want to quit or fire themselves, which is okay as long as they start back the next day.
What do you see as the future of small business in Brunswick County?
Growth! And I’m excited to be here to see it and experience it with them.