08/03/14 — Small business center nurturing 'big ideas'

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Small business center nurturing 'big ideas'

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on August 3, 2014 1:50 AM

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Charles Gaylor IV, director of the Small Business Center, teaches a class attended by Versa Stevens, left, and John Lapoint at Wayne Community College.

Do you have the next big idea? Do you dream of owning your own business?

A resource at Wayne Community College might just be able to help you make that goal a reality.

"Our main goal is to help people turn their ideas into plans," said Charles Gaylor, director of the college's Small Business Center. "Then, we're most concerned with helping them critically analyze that plan and figure out whether or not it's a good idea to move forward with it."

Gaylor said he considers his consultation with a prospective small business owner a success if that person is able to critique his idea and make the proper decision as to whether or not the business should come to fruition.

Last year, the Wayne Community College Small Business Center provided 375 hours of free business counseling to 127 clients, and about 14 percent of all business ideas turned into actual businesses.

The center also holds about 50 seminars per year, and all counseling services for those looking to open businesses are free.

Richard Plue, who recently transitioned out of the Air Force, started at the small business center when he decided to open his business, Happy Mugs and Favors, at 511 N. Spence Ave. The business, which is an engraving and etching business for personalized products, opened its doors June 1.

"The legwork of opening a business would've been much harder without their help," Plue said. "The program helped warn us of the pitfalls of owning a business, and we were able to foresee those and sidestep them."

Plue worked with Gaylor on his business idea while he was deployed overseas last year, and kept in regular email contact.

"A lot of people seem to think that just because our services are free means that they are low quality," Gaylor said. "But we've got great leadership at the college, and everyone here is very capable and very qualified to help anyone looking to start a business."

The Small Business Center has been in operation since the mid-1980s, but has steadily evolved into a more hands-on counseling service for entrepreneurs. While no firm business plan is required to contact the Small Business Center for help, Gaylor said having a plan always helps.

"We're here, and we're capable," Gaylor said. "We want people to know that we're willing to help."

To contact the center with an idea, call Linda Berard at 919-739-6940.