Local business owner John Curry says StartSmart program contributed to Buona Caffe’s success
Augusta, GA (Nov. 5, 2013) – Fifteen budding entrepreneurs are now armed with the knowledge and tools they need to launch their local businesses, thanks to the Georgia Small Business Development Center’s StartSmart program.
StartSmart is an eight-week small business educational program that helps students learn how to write a business plan, market their business and manage day-to-day operations, just to name a few examples.
Augusta has had five StartSmart classes to date with 85 graduates. The fall 2013 class graduates on Tuesday.
Tracy Conlon Melvin is one of the graduating students. She signed up for the program to learn how to make her new health insurance business a success.
“Before StartSmart, the words ‘business plan’ were very scary to me,” said Melvin. But she said the program gave her the support she needed to write a good business plan that will help her succeed. “The handholding was very reassuring to me.”
John Curry took the StartSmart class in 2011. He and his wife are co-owners of Buona Caffe on Central Avenue in Augusta. They have done coffee roasting on the side for a few years, but now it’s a full-time job. They opened the café in June.
“The StartSmart program helped me to think outside of the box when it comes to marketing,” said Curry. “We didn’t need to spend all our money on advertising – we learned that word of mouth is the best way to earn business.”
And to spread the word, Curry works to build relationships with local companies, by purchasing supplies from vendors nearby, supporting Augusta area non-profits and selling coffee beans through local stores and farmers markets.
“October will be our best month so far,” said Curry. And as Curry continues with his business, he will focus on running the business more efficiently.
“StartSmart taught us that we should continually and regularly look at our processes and make them more efficient,” he said. “The lessons that I learned through StartSmart definitely contributed to our success.”
Wells Fargo is a statewide sponsor of the program and has supported it since 2008. With Wells Fargo’s financial support, more than 600 students have graduated from the program in cities across Georgia.
In all, Wells Fargo has given $190,000 to StartSmart programs in Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon and Savannah. Wells Fargo’s donations go towards the cost of the class, making StartSmart very affordable. Augusta StartSmart has received $28,000 over the years.
“This program would not be the success it is without Wells Fargo,” said Susan Caldwell, Area Director of the SBDC in Augusta. “And they have contributed so much more than just financial support. These business owners have a permanent resource for financial advice from Wells Fargo in Augusta.”
Susan Hunnicutt, Wells Fargo’s market president in Augusta, has attended every graduation in Augusta to wish the students well and to encourage them on in their business endeavors.
“Starting a business can be extremely overwhelming and most people don’t know where to start,” said Hunnicutt. “StartSmart does a great job of giving our small business owners the boost they need to get their businesses started off on the right foot.”
About Georgia SBDC
The mission of the SBDC is to enhance the economic well-being of Georgians by providing a wide range of educational services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. In 2012, the Georgia SBDC conducted over 322 training programs, including the StartSmart program. Over the last five years, SBDC clients have generated $6.5 billion in sales, created 9,050 new jobs and started 1,427 new businesses. $299 million in capital has also been raised through loans and equity financing.
To learn about StartSmart and how you can apply to be a part of a future program, please visit www.georgiasbdc.org.