Circle of Care workshop gives young entreprenuers a headstart

Published 10:00 am Friday, September 1, 2023

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VALLEY — On Wednesday evening, approximately 20 young adults from the local area took part in a new program being offered by the Chambers County Circle of Care Center for Families. It’s a business workshop that offers important advice on starting a new business. The inaugural class meets every Wednesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. ET at the Circle of Care, located in Valley Medical Park.

Markedrick Dawson, the Circle’s director of innovation and entrepreneurial development, is conducting the program. “What we are doing is for aspiring entrepreneurs,” he said. “We will talk to you about how to start a business and to properly manage it. We will be giving advice on its proper structure, how to market what you are doing, hiring the right people, budgeting, paying taxes, and so on.”

Dawson is a native of Valley and a 1996 graduate of Valley High, where he starred in football and basketball. He continued playing sports in college at Alabama A&M, but an injury cut short his playing days. He also attended Delta State University before spending 10 years in the U.S. Navy. He saw duty aboard the USS Ticonderoga, which took him throughout the Caribbean and to Central and South America.

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“In each of our sessions we will have a guest speaker taking about what’s involved in start-up businesses,” Dawson said. “Hopefully we will be able to provide a good service for the community. We will have free food and refreshments at each meeting.”

Larkin Jones, a business advisor with the Alabama Small Business Development Council, was the guest speaker at Wednesday’s kickoff program. The regional Alabama SBDC is located at Auburn University and serves Lee, Chambers, Russell, Tallapoosa, Randolph, Clay and Coosa counties. The Alabama Small Business Development Council offers a confidential one-on-one advising service at no charge.

Jones told the gathering that she owns a small business in addition to her job with the state. She said her husband was the business leader and describes herself as a “get-it-done girl.”

Before starting a business, Jones said the basics must be taken care of first. This involves personal readiness and dong a self assessment. “Have you discussed it with your family?” she said. “Having a business will be time consuming and will involve a significant financial investment. Your family must be supportive of what your are doing. You will have to be able to handle your normal household expenses while you are doing this, and you need to realize that you probably won’t be making a profit in the new business for some time. It’s important to know your customers and their needs.”

Dawson said each Wednesday session will have a speaker like Jones who will talk to them on such topics as marketing, crowdfunding, business strategy, bookkeeping and t he like. “Each workshop will be led by an experienced mentor who has successfully navigated a start-up journey,” he said. “Our workshop series is designed to help entrepreneurs take on the challenges of starting a business, taking it to the next level and making it sustainable.”

“We think these business workshops will be good for those who are starting their own business,” said Circle of Care Director Jonathan Herston. “Having successful small businesses is a big step toward strengthening families and that’s what the Circle is all about.”