Small Businesses Are Her Thing

Colette Cox just completed her third consultation of the day. With a whip-fast memory, she easily recalled exactly what the client’s goals were and which actions needed implementation. As the Business Resource Center’s Outreach Manager, serving St. George, rural Washington County and all of Kane County, Cox’s work area is large, but she provides individualized care for every consultation. She agreed to sit down for an interview about her background (spoiler alert, she’s helped countless companies thrive), and what she can do to help even more local business owners:

What is your educational background and where did you work before Innovation Plaza?

I received my Bachelor’s in Marketing at Utah State University and my MBA from the University of North Alabama. I have worked for the past 20 years in higher education, economic development, workforce development and career and technical education. My previous employers include Southwest Tech, Utah State University and Mohave Community College. I also worked for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. I continue to work with the Kanab Area Chamber of Commerce, and have for ten years, as well as being on the advisory board for the Kane County Center for Education Business and the Arts (CEBA). I’m also a board member for the Women’s Business Center of Utah advisory board, DSU Business of Art board and Best Friends Community Council.

What does your position at Innovation Plaza entail?

I split my time between Washington and Kane counties, providing help to start-ups and existing small businesses in both counties. My services are provided free of charge through Atwood Innovation Plaza’s Business Resource Center due to a grant through the United States Economic Development Administration. My colleagues and I also offer monthly training sessions to enhance small business knowledge, focus on entrepreneurship and develop business leadership skills.

What do you love about the services offered at Innovation Plaza?

This is a dream job for me because I love working with small business owners. Their success is my success. I really enjoy working with DSU student entrepreneurs as well. I love watching students combine their formal classroom education with the real world by launching a business. Most of all, I have a passion for working with small businesses in rural Utah. It's where I'm from, and I feel connected to those business owners. Small businesses are the foundation of our state and our nation. Anything we can do to help them thrive is super rewarding for me.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I find every aspect rewarding [laughs]. My motto is “work smarter, not harder,” and I enjoy seeing small businesses turn around by helping them look at things in new ways and connect them with resources they otherwise did not know about.

Do you have any advice for start-ups? Do’s and Don'ts?

When I work with a startup company, it’s important they remember to be open to council and feedback. Know that there will be lots of obstacles, but you just have to work through them. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Success doesn't come overnight; it comes through a lot of hard work. Many people are ‘Bootstrapping’ their business, building it from the ground up with nothing but personal savings, a little luck and a lot of hard work. I have a lot of respect for those who are willing to take this kind of risk.

If you could describe Colette in one sentence, what would you say?

Small businesses are “My Thing”. Can I expand on that? I’m excited to take on this new challenge. This position utilizes all my strengths and work experience. I work closely with small business owners and community partners to build and sustain programs to develop our local economy. We are here to address the needs of regional employers. Our program is one of many located at Innovation Plaza including Innovation Guidance and Solutions, the Makerspace, and Business Incubators. We serve startups and small businesses to help people go from good to great.

Colette Cox is actively taking consultation appointments.

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