SILER CITY — Losing a job during a recession is rough, but planning can turn it into an opportunity — just ask Valerie Broadway, of Siler City.
“I was at Wyeth Biotech for 20 years, first as a technician, then a supervisor, and finally, a trainer,” Broadway said. “Then the company started announcing layoffs in 2008. I knew I needed to prepare.”
Broadway graduated from Central Carolina Community College’s Veterinary Medical Technology program in 1982, but her career took her into the pharmaceutical and bioprocessing industries. In her spare time, she still enjoyed working with dogs in foster care and training and organized Chatham Animal Rescue during the mid-1980s. In addition to foster care, she liked to work with dog owners in training their problem pets.
Broadway received her lay-off notice in November 2008, but by that time she was already making plans.
“I thought I could get another job in biotechnology or pharmaceuticals, but everybody was laying off,” she said. “So, I asked myself, ‘If I were truly doing what would make me happy, what would I do?’ The answer was, ‘Duh — you’re already doing it: training dogs.’”
Starting her own dog training business was an appealing idea, but she knew she needed help in making the transition from a sideline of training dogs to becoming a small business owner and all that entails. She also knew where to find that help — at the Small Business Center at Central Carolina C.C.’s Chatham County Campus, in Pittsboro.
Gary Kibler, SBC-Chatham director, calls on his 17 years of experience in marketing for major corporations, as well as operating his own businesses, to counsel fledgling small business people like Broadway.
“An economic downturn is traumatic for those losing their jobs or seeing their small business decline,” Kibler said. “On the positive side, it can provide the impetus for a person to finally pursue his or her dream of owning a small business or an opportunity to make changes to the business model in order to survive and thrive. Either way, the college’s Small Business Center is here to help.”
Kibler and Broadway discussed her goals and decided a sole proprietorship was the best fit. They talked about identifying a target audience and how to reach them, keeping financial records, getting a business checking account, business insurance, paying herself, and visiting the tax office and county Registrar of Deeds to legally set up her business.
“Gary gave me the feeling that I could have a thriving business,” Broadway said. “He explained the process and kept in touch to see how things were going. He also gave me information on classes at the college that would help me as a small business owner, such as QuickBooks, accounting, and small business management.”
March 28, 2009, was an exciting day for this fledging entrepreneur — she officially opened her Canine Coaching Services at her Pleasant Hill Road home, between Siler City and Pittsboro.
“The Small Business Center has been invaluable,” Broadway said. “You get to talk with people who are experts and know what resources are available. I feel like I’ve gotten a 20-year jump on what I like to do. I have the potential to grow three-fold — that’s my goal.”
Broadway loves what she does, helping dogs and their owners establish a relationship that is rewarding for both of them. The root of most problems, she said, is that the dog doesn’t recognize the owner as its leader. That leaves the dog feeling insecure and it can become fearful or aggressive. For most pets and owners, it doesn’t take long to get the relationship established under Broadway’s expertise. Her clients are impressed with the changes she can make in their problem pets.
“My Great Dane, Belle, was very nervous in new situations and around people,” said Christine Jackson, of Orange County. “A veterinary recommended Valerie to me and she helped my dog become more confident, more settled. Valerie is very dedicated and loves animals. She’s committed to doing everything she can to help dogs.”
Broadway is just one of many entrepreneurs and small business people who have been helped to succeed by the college’s Small Business Center network, which includes Chatham County SBC, Lee County SBC, and the Harnett County SBC at Triangle South Enterprises.
Central Carolina is the only North Carolina community college to have separate business centers located in each of the multiple counties it serves. The network has been named the best in the state several times by the North Carolina Small Business Center Network based on its quality service, innovative programs and assistance processes, and generating outstanding business success stories.
Each of the three SBC units focuses on the needs of its particular area, working with entrepreneurs and business owners one-on-one. Each offers free, confidential, one-on-one counseling, business owner classes, loan considerations for special needs, planning aids and software and educational seminars. The SBC’s challenge is to help develop the economy one business at a time.
“Starting and succeeding in a small business takes more than just the desire,” Kibler said. “It takes commitment, knowledge, and a good business plan. The Small Business Center in each county is here to train and encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as support local economic development. Like Valerie, we invite people who want to start their own businesses, or those who want to improve their existing business, to contact us. We love success stories.”
For counseling services, business seminars or other information related to starting or running a small business, contact Kibler at (919) 542-6495, ext. 215. In Lee County, call SBC director Jim Felton, (919) 718-7545; and in Harnett County, SBC director Nancy Blackman, (910) 892-2884.