When David Butcher retired from the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant, he wanted to work on motorcycles but didn’t know the first thing about turning his hobby into a business.
“When you walk out of the military, everybody’s done everything for you for 20 years. You don’t know anything about starting a business,” he said.
That’s when he turned to the Small Business Development Center at Troy University for assistance, at the urgence of his stepfather, who had used SBDC services in his own business in Ohio.
“The best thing was being able to drive up (to Troy) unlimited times and say, ‘I need help.’ Having an advisor willing to take the time with you,” he said. “For a soldier, it was awesome, and you gain the understanding of why you need to do something, not just following an order but understanding why something is done.”
Now in his second year of operation at his home-based Butcher Motorcycle Repairs, LLC just outside Daleville, SBDC TROY Director Juliana Bolivar, who serves as his advisor, said Butcher’s story typifies the SBDC’s commitment to serving our military.
“He is a referral from the Fort Rucker area, had recently retired from the military and had become a certified Harley technician,” she said. “He has informally performed maintenance on his own and his friends’ motorcycles for years but wanted to open a home-based mechanic shop.”
“He had a plan in his mind and that was to serve his community with his knowledge, providing a very needed service in the area,” she said.
The problem, Butcher said, was that he lacked the knowledge to set up a business for success. That’s where the SBDC came in.
“I sought them out based on our experience in Ohio. They got me on the right track – Juliana got me the business license, helped with the tax ID number and basically showed me how to do all of that properly,” he said. “It’s scary starting a business, but when I had questions, she said ‘I got you. Here’s what you need to do’.”
In addition to the direct support he’s received, Butcher has taken advantage of SBDC-sponsored training in marketing and QuickBooks.
“On the marketing side of things, she said build a logo and keep it simple. I’m not big on billboards or social media, but she suggested an investment in business cards. A lot of my business is word-of-mouth and handing out business cards is essential. They walked me through it step by step,” he said.
Although his wife is an accountant, she had laid down the law: Butcher was going to have to learn to handle the paperwork for his business himself. QuickBooks was a solution for that.
“It’s paid for itself and to be able to go to a class where I can make mistakes without screwing up my own business or not hurt my family, is awesome,” Butcher said.
The SBDC is now his first words of advice for anyone looking to start a business.
“I’ve told them to go talk to the SBDC. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them. A lot of (the success of your business) depends on being able to find the resource – legit resources. You can get on the Internet, and everybody has their own two cents about what you need to do, but the SBDC is out there to get it done,” he said.