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The Great Reprioritization

The Small Business Development Center at Howard has seen record numbers of people move into entrepreneurship.

by Kimberly Holmes-Iverson
Carl Brown looking to the side

Carl Brown (BA ’83) wants to help you quit your day job. He says too many people have told him they’re fed up.

“Whether it’s COVID, diabetes, stroke, whatever, folks are saying ‘nah, I’m going to call it a day and move on with my life,” Brown says.

Brown runs the District of Columbia Small Business Development Center (SBDC). He says a record number of people are leaving their traditional jobs and moving into the entrepreneurial space. As executive director, Brown saw demand for his office’s services recently skyrocket. In 2019, his staff provided 2,073 hours of counseling; in 2020, they provided 4,600 hours of counseling.  

“We’ve seen growth in the number of Black women coming in,” Brown says. “They are the number one client in the District of Columbia. Sisters call me and are ready and prepared.”

Located in the Howard School of Business, the SBDC launched on the campus of Howard University in 1979; the same year Brown enrolled at Howard. 

“Whether it’s COVID, diabetes, stroke, whatever, folks are saying ‘nah, I’m going to call it a day and move on with my life.”

The self-proclaimed “one-stop shop for small business success,” SBDC provides research, resources, webinars, and one-on-one counseling to anyone looking to start or enhance a small business. The center was established as part of a congressional pilot program and managed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The centers are located primarily on university and college campuses throughout every state and territory. The Howard School of Business also offers help with patents and trademarking. Clients do not have to be a Howard student, faculty, or staff member. All services are offered free of charge.

“That is your tax dollars at work,” Brown points out. 

With more than 25 years of experience, Brown brings a wealth of small business development knowledge to those who visit. His consultants are also highly educated professionals with extensive entrepreneurial expertise. 

The New York native is passionate about entrepreneurship. He also hosts a weekly radio show on SiriusXM Channel 141. “The Small Business Report” showcases interviews with leaders, entrepreneurs, and business experts such as Black Ambition CEO Felecia Hatcher and Midwest regional director for Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Voices Janetta King. Brown has also been interviewed by national media outlets including History Channel, “Food that Built America,” and the Wall Street Journal.

He recommends making an appointment to talk to his staff early in your startup process. 

“Don’t be afraid to discuss your idea – in fact, I would prefer that you come see me when you just got an idea and not start all these bad practices that we got to help you change,” Brown says.

Another million-dollar idea? Buying a boomer’s business. 

“A lot of these baby boomers have never even thought about selling their businesses,” Brown says. “They say, ‘who wants Call Brown tax service?’ But at the core, it’s a tax service. ‘Tammy’ can take over. Tammy offers $50,000 over the next five years. Now that retiring owner gets $50,000 extra every year while laying on the beach. Who’s benefiting? Both of us.”

Many of Brown’s clients say they’ve benefited from his advice.

“I took my mother to the doctor one day, and a former client walked in with his wife,” recounts Brown. “He’s like, ‘Oh, my God. It’s Carl Brown!’ He then told his wife ‘Honey, this is the man responsible for the house you live in.’ They live in a mansion.”

A big house built by a big idea that was nurtured on the campus of Howard University.

“I’m trying to bring Black intellectual excellence to the table,” Brown says.




This story appears in the Fall 2022 issue.
Article ID: 1011

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