While working with small business owners, Amanda Bradshaw noticed that entrepreneurs are curious and learn from each other.
“They’re curious creatures,” Bradshaw said. “That’s what I say sometimes.”
As the director of the Small Business Center for Sampson Community College, Bradshaw is ready to begin a new networking opportunity, B2B Open Meet. The initiative is collaboration with James Sprunt Community College’s (JSCC) Small Business Center. An inaugural session is scheduled for 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5 at the SCC Small Business Center, located in the North Building, 1801 Sunset Ave. Clinton. SCC is scheduled to host more sessions in October and December. JSCC plans to host the program in September and November inside their small business center, 133 James Sprunt Drive, Kenansville. The first two scheduled presenters are Matthew Register of Southern Smoke and Hope Smith, artist and owner of Art of Hope.
Bradshaw said B2B Open Meet is a sister program to the national 1 Million Cups, which is operated by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Mo.
“We have our program set up to the same standards of the national program, but we couldn’t qualify for it because we don’t have the population or the demographics to do it.”
So the colleges decided to create their own. She described it as a “content driven networking opportunity for small business owners.” During the first Wednesday of each month, the organization will host two presenters. They will have six minutes to talk about their businesses, the challenges that come with it and how they would like for it to grow.
Afterwards, a forum of other entrepreneurs, associates, accountants and advertisers, will provide constructive feedback. She said the selected individuals are true advocates of the community who want to see businesses succeed.
“We have a plethora of people in the initial group,” Bradshaw said. “It’s really a brainstorming session of great minds and putting thoughts together to get those winds spinning.
“A lot of times when you’re standing in something, you look at it with blinders on sometime,” she said. “You only see this little box in front of you, but you have a group of people that are supportive and who can give you an unbiased opinion.”
Following the presentation and feedback, there will also be networking opportunities for participants. Bradshaw said anyone from the public is invited to attend the sessions.
“This is a positive neutral and safe environment for business owners to come into,” she said about the free sessions.
She hopes the local program continues to grow like the 1 Million Cups. During a recent interview, Bradshaw mentioned how the program began with just 17 people, but expanded to hundreds of people within a month.
“I do see us having a great opportunity to grow and be supportive of the folks in the neighborhoods and the communities,” Bradshaw said.
For more information about the program or becoming a presenter, contact Bradshaw at 910-592-7176 ext. 2032 or Lee Woodard of the JSCC’s Small Business Center at 910-296-2431.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.