The way Tonya Snider sees it, there are no bad outcomes for participants in the Macon County Business Plan competition.
The winning business plan will yield $5,000, but even aspiring entrepreneurs who walk away realizing they need to start over will have saved themselves a countless amount of money and aggravation.
The grand prize will be announced on April 24.
“Some of our students will go out and have a lot of success with the business they’ve been planning through our series of seminars, but others won’t start the business they had been planning,” said Snider, who oversees the learning sessions at Southwestern Community College’s Macon Campus. “Either way, they’re coming out better than if they’d not come here and figured out whether their business plan was feasible.”
“Once you’re in business, mistakes are a lot more painful,” Snider added, “so it’s good to figure out if your business idea makes sense – and the right way to do it.”
Roughly 20 aspiring entrepreneurs have regularly attended the free weekly sessions at SCC’s Macon Campus. They’ve covered topics ranging from “Am I Entrepreneurial Material?” and “Business Simulation” to “Marketing Mix” and “Financials for Small Business.”
Organized by SCC’s Small Business Center, the series was a result of the collaboration between the Macon County Certified Entrepreneurial Community Leadership Team, Western Carolina University and SCC.
“We are so pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to the community,” said Tiffany Henry, director of SCC’s Small Business Center. “And we’ve been pleased at all the positive feedback we’ve received. Developing this series and watching the level of engagement, growth and networking amongst the group has been very rewarding.”
Throughout the series, students work through real-life scenarios and learn how to make their business ideas come to life.
Christy Kelly of Highlands, who’s worked in non-profit management for the past two decades, has found the seminar series indispensable while developing her business plan for a consulting firm that would help non-profit agencies increase their capacity for mission delivery.
“I’ve enjoyed these seminars; they’re a tremendous help, and they raise a lot of important questions,” Kelly said. “They’ve provided tremendous resources and also networking. They’ve connected me with the Small Business Center, the Economic Development Board, Tiffany Henry (director of SCC’s Small Business Center) and Tommy Dennison (of WCU’s Small Business and Technology Development Center).
“One thing I appreciate is the wide variety of topics,” Kelly added. “And the way it’s taught is very interactive.”