Small business forum in Augusta focuses on startups, growth

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Alexis Tubman wants to start a business in Augusta, but like many entrepreneurs, she needs funding and needs to know how to get it.

Tubman and about 100 others attended a small-business forum Thursday at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in hopes of getting advice on starting and growing enterprises from area bank personnel and local, state and regional directors with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“With most small businesses, the money, that’s the most frustrating part,” said Tubman, who has worked with a friend for an arts-related venture. “You don’t have what you need in order to go forth with your ideas. We’re both retired. We don’t have an awful lot of money. We do have a little bit, but it won’t be enough to start a business and to keep it going until we can build the clientele.”

Tubman said that in previous years, she and her friend tossed around several ideas for new businesses, but a lack of funding has always hindered their plans. The newest business concept, which Tubman described as “in the arts,” was discovered on a recent trip to Atlanta.

“I don’t think this business will be quite as costly,” she said. “With this one, we know it’ll be a hit if we can get it going.”

The economic workshop, sponsored by the Small Business Administration and U.S. Rep. John Barrow’s office, covered business startups, capital access and federal procurement opportunities.

The panel fielded questions from audience members, many of whom inquired about resources available to veterans and how to start businesses with decades of experience but no college background.

“One thing I have realized is when you’re your own boss, that on-the-job training that you have over these years, that is part of your education,” said Cassius Butts, the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administrator. “And that does mean something to us.”

Annie Howard Parris attended the workshop on behalf of her daughter. The two are looking to expand their baby apparel/baby shower business, Precious Little Things, into the digital realm. Parris said they’ve launched a Facebook business page but need to create a Web site with ordering capabilities.

“Neither one of us has any marketing skills,” Parris said. “It’s just been word of mouth for two years or so. She does well here and there, but we want something that’s going to be constant.”


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