Each year the North Carolina Small Business Center Network(SBCN), part of the North Carolina Community Colleges, helps more than 600 small businesses get up-and-running. Composed of 60 centers located throughout North Carolina, the SBCN is the United States’ most expansive, state-funded technical assistance program, serving more than 50,000 North Carolinians each year.
The SBCN plays a vital role, helping budding entrepreneurs learn the basics of entrepreneurship and struggling small business owners to overcome business challenges. “North Carolina, like many other states, is still dealing with the after-effects of the 2008 recession when many jobs were lost,” says Dr. George Millsaps, State Director of the SBCN. “In addition, North Carolina has a long history of manufacturing. Many of those manufacturing jobs have gone overseas and won’t be coming back. So we need to grow our own.”
Traditionally, the centers focus on one-to-one, in-person training—conducting more than 3,500 workshops a year. But HP LIFE e-Learning is becoming a vital tool in their arsenal.
An innovative, online training program, HP LIFE e-Learning is designed for students, entrepreneurs, and small-business owners to develop their IT and business skills.
The program’s 25 modules cover core business categories such as finance, marketing, operations and communications, plus special topics such as social entrepreneurship, strategic planning and effective leadership to support 21st century skills development. The program also offers a range of additional features including certification, advice and access to a global online community.
HP LIFE e-Learning is part of HP Living Progress, HP’s framework for thinking about how it does business. It’s how HP is working to create a better future for everyone through its actions and innovations.
The SBCN uses HP LIFE e-Learning in a variety of ways. Available on the home page of its website, many first time visitors often begin by clicking on the HP LIFE icon because it’s interactive and free.
“The icon provides a simple entrée to the site,” explains Dr. Millsaps. “Once someone registers, the website automatically alerts the nearest SBCN small business center. This enables the center to reach out to the potential entrepreneur and invite them to learn how to translate the excellent training they received from HP LIFE e-Learning, into a tangible action plan.”
Complements offering to the public
“HP LIFE e-Learning enables our counselors to be much more efficient,” he says. “Many will meet with a client and listen to their issues and say, ‘I think you need help in these areas. I recommend that you take these specific modules on HP LIFE and then come back and see me. When they come back, the counselor can then dive deeper and provide guidance specific to that person’s needs.
“Another great feature of HP LIFE e-Learning is its flexibility. It’s available when you need and want it,” says Dr. Millsaps. “If we happen to hold a seminar at a time when someone can’t make it, it doesn’t have to hold them back. We can recommend they take the HP LIFE e-Learning training modules and then schedule time to get together one-on-one, at their convenience. It really complements our offering to the public.” To date, more than 2,000 people have registered for HP LIFE through the SBCN.
The SBCN’s positive experience with HP LIFE e-Learning has turned it into a passionate advocate. “I’ve had conversations with other states who are now also considering deploying it as part of their network,” says Dr. Millsaps.
A powerful new tool in the Network’s arsenal, HP LIFE e-Learning is playing a key role in developing economic growth across the state. It is a great example of the work HP LIFE and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) are doing to build out an ecosystem for entrepreneurship that makes it easier for people across the US to access all the support they need to start a successful business.