Barbara L. Hall
Director, Small Business Center
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
At the Small Business Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, we serve approximately 500 small business owners through seminars and courses each year, and another 120 through direct services, including counseling and referrals to partner organizations. As part of the North Carolina Small Business Center Network, our objective is to “increase the success rate and the number of viable small businesses in North Carolina by providing high quality, readily accessible assistance to prospective and existing small business owners which will lead to job creation and retention.” Each Small Business Center within the Network is a community-based provider of education and training, counseling, referral and information, and since we are state-funded, we are able to provide these services for free, which is a huge benefit for our local entrepreneurs.
But even when classes and services are free, it can be hard to keep participants motivated. We get a lot of interest, a lot of sign-ups, but in the end, it can be difficult for busy business owners to finish our longer courses – especially when they are online, and interaction is limited. And we know we can’t just give up offering online training, because our clientele need the flexibility. So we had a challenge: find an online resource that had ease of use, a choice of modules, was customizable, was highly interactive, and enabled our instructors to “jump in” and stay in contact with the students throughout the course.
In our research, we met Neil Gilbert and Venture Highway. We decided to adopt Venture Highway as our new online resource because it met all of the above requirements AND its Venture Accelerator curriculum covers Business Model Canvas, which is a critical need with our clients. In my next blog, I’ll talk more about the training needs of small business owners in our territory, and how we’re meeting those needs at our Small Business Center.