Students gain insight into small business success with keynote speaker

Business students, faculty and staff enjoyed dinner at Aviator Smokehouse in Fuquay-Varina while listening to Stephanie Driscoll, vice president of finance for the Bob Barker Company, talk about her day-to-day experiences and overall insights into what a small business can grow into and the effect it can have on a community.

Driscoll delivered insight to students and faculty throughout the dinner hosted by the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business, an evening that emphasized the importance of focusing on communication and taking care of and connecting with your people first. Doing this, Driscoll said, provides a trusting work environment, allowing employees to thrive resulting in a successful business.

“Every person you interact with is someone you can learn something from,” said Driscoll, stressing the importance of engaging with individuals at all levels. She further emphasized the significance of understanding customers’ needs, creating solutions and delivering them promptly to foster customer loyalty and acquisition.

Driscoll went on to talk about how Bob Barker Company wasn’t always this big business. Bob Barker started out making mattresses in this small backroom and once they were done, they would throw them out the window to be transported. Bob Barker Company started with a single person, eventually turning into an international supplier.

The business school also invited guest speaker and Aviator Chief Financial Officer Walter D. “Buddy” Everhart, Jr. to speak. Everhart shared his experience of helping create a small business and growing it into a staple of the Fuquay-Varina community. Starting out in an airplane hangar and with one employee, Aviator grew into one of the town’s top businesses. Everhart’s story showed the impact small businesses can have on small towns.

“Both Buddy from Aviator and Stephanie from Bob Barker illustrated how a small business can make a large impact on their surrounding community as well as the larger global community, said Sara Leak, assistant director of graduate programs for the business school. “I really appreciated Stephanie’s emphasis on loving your people and treating them well. How at the end of the day if you take care of your people, they will take care of the work and business.”

The business school also hosted a Small Business Expo in the halls of Lundy-Fetterman in Apri.. This gave students a chance to walk around and network with the smaller businesses that were set up along the hall. This expo is not only important to the students but is equally important to the businesses who want to spread awareness of their business to the Students and Faculty.

The most valuable part of the Small Business Expo was twofold; I valued the ability to connect with local small business owners and hear their story, and I also valued the ability to practice my networking skills,” said Autumn Heiner, senior marketing/management major.

The theme for this year’s LFSB Business Week, “Small Business” resonated through these events. The week has become an opportunity for students to learn about businesses in the surrounding area, while also providing students who are interested in owning their own business one day an opportunity to learn from people who have done it before them. Business week is a time to learn outside of the classroom through real businesses.