March 8, 2005: Headlines: COS - Bulgaria: Small Business Development: Community Economic Development: Loudoun Times-Mirror: Bulgaria RPCV Beth Hain helps small business owners reach their dreams

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bulgaria: Peace Corps Bulgaria: The Peace Corps in Bulgaria: March 8, 2005: Headlines: COS - Bulgaria: Small Business Development: Community Economic Development: Loudoun Times-Mirror: Bulgaria RPCV Beth Hain helps small business owners reach their dreams

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Bulgaria RPCV Beth Hain helps small business owners reach their dreams

Bulgaria RPCV Beth  Hain helps small business owners reach their dreams

Bulgaria RPCV Beth Hain helps small business owners reach their dreams

Hain helps small business owners reach their dreams
By George Gill

Beth Hain, executive director of the Loudoun County Small Business Development Center, honed her skills in working with businesses and entrepreneurs while working for the Peace Corps overseas.

For Beth Hain, her position as executive director of the Loudoun County Small Business Development Center puts her life and work experience to good use.

“I took all my years of moving around, and entrepreneurial things my own family did and applied it to myself,” she said. “This is probably the best job I've ever had. I feel lucky in that sense -- I love what I do.”


Name: Beth Hain, executive director

Started: January 2005

Organization: Loudoun County Small Business Development Center

Location: 21145 Whitfield Place, Suite 104, Sterling

Web site:

Guiding philosophy: “We're in the business of making small business owners' dreams a reality.”
>The Loudoun County Small Business Development Center is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Mason Enterprise Center at George Mason University, County of Loudoun, Loudoun County Industrial Development Authority and Town of Leesburg. The center provides management and technical assistance to existing small businesses and new entrepreneurs. Any person interested in starting a business or any entrepreneur already managing a business may receive assistance from the center.

As executive director Hain represents and manages the center, counsels clients, presents business seminars, designs the quarterly newsletter and implements and center's annual fundraising campaign.


She said the Loudoun County Small Business Development Center has a large range of client bases.

“It ranges from stay-at-home moms who are highly educated. individuals who want to contribute and give back, but still want to be connected to and be part of their families, to mid-level and upper-level executives who are looking to spin off concepts, ideas they've come across throughout their career,” she said.

She said the small businesses typically are in the service sector or in the retail sector, especially things like restaurants and day-care centers.

Hain said they also work with many tech people.

“They are building out new technologies, platforms or outsourcing to the government,” she said. “Technology skill sets, whether it be things related to security, technology, intellectual properties. We run the entire gamut of business type, in terms of industry, as well as client type.”


She said clients are at different stages in their plans for their own business.

“What's often interesting is we might be helping someone look at a particular business idea but in the process of doing that essentially also doing some kind of career coaching or counseling as well,” she said.

That may involve the questions, “Is it a business or a career opportunity?” and “Is it a full-time or part-time opportunity?” she explained.

“Those decisions are life changing decisions, and I do think we play a pivotal role in trying to help people identify which step is most appropriate,” she said. “Finding resources to help them map out the best next step for them. Obviously, we're focused on the business side of that. If you want career counseling we've got resources where you can go, but it's not our cup of tea. Thanks to my HR background, we can do some of it.”

Hain said the center saw about 1,100 clients last year through seminars. About half attended “Start Your Business” seminars. “That's why it's continuously offered, we have the demand throughout the year,” she added.

Other popular seminars are on booking and taxation, and on intellectual property. “Intellectual property is a topic people have a hard time getting their heads around because of the complexity of it.”

Business planning is also popular, she said, including navigating the “map” of how to logistically start a business. That includes deciding on an entity selection, such as LLC versus S Corp., or sole proprietor versus a partnership. “All of that is a value added resource as well for a lot of clients.”

Many clients also want to learn simply what the order is of getting things done, she said.

“Everyone wants to know, what's the quickest way I can get through this process so I can get my business up and running?” she said. “Just providing that road map is always in demand.”

On the go

Hain was born in Tampa, Fla. Her family moved often, about 11 times by the time she turned 18, though she typically refers to herself as being from Georgia, which is where her family moved to from Florida.

Hain described her father as an entrepreneur.

“He incorporated full-time jobs with entrepreneurial aspects, and would occasionally go out and do businesses on his own,” she said. “He worked primarily in the insurance field.”

She attended college at Michigan State, where she was introduced to the Peace Corps by a campus representative.

Peace Corps

Later she joined the Peace Corps, accepting a position as community economic development consultant in Bulgaria. “Something inside me said it was the right place to go,” she said. The program changed over time, eventually transforming into a micro business and regional economic development position.

Hain said she sees herself as a “little bit altruistic.”

“I like to help people in a practical sense” she said. “To roll up my sleeves and say, 'OK what are the steps we can identify to move forward?' I think I get that because of the fact I moved around so much when I was a kid. Having to adapt quickly, identify where I could fit in, how I could help, and what I could offer and contribute was just a necessity of moving so much.”

She thought the Peace Corps had a similar philosophy and would be a good fit.

“I was looking for something that would kind of challenge me to bridge the gap,” she said. “I've always felt like I'm a bridge between two different worlds -- whether that be older generation, younger generation, the established and not established -- trying to bridge the two worlds. I have a little expertise that's useful. That's my specialty.”

Her job included helping people in Bulgaria learn about starting businesses, how to get access to the western world in a post-Communist country.

“Understanding market economics and how that operated was a little difficult for them,” she said. “On the regional level, there were developing centers like this one [small business development center], creating centers throughout the southeast region of Bulgaria, and which included material development, finding directors, training directors on marketing, financing, government and opportunities.”

Goals included working with micro-businesses and creating an NGO (non-government organization) network of nonprofits.

Her duties also included doing grant writing and funding of her own organization as well as training project management skills, both in Bulgarian and English throughout the country.

She also trained incoming volunteers on the business environment and what to expect, as well as trainers to train them on what to expect from Americans.

Hain said she loved her time in the Peace Corps. Later she decided to focus on the domestic side of what she had done internationally.

When this story was posted in March 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Loudoun Times-Mirror

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Bulgaria; Small Business Development; Community Economic Development



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