The Business Launch initiative is a specialized service of the SBTDC that helps entrepreneurs to evaluate an idea, form the idea into a business model, and launch the viable idea into a new North Carolina business. SBTDC established this initiative in 2019 to help early stage innovators, particularly those around university ecosystems, move forward with forming a business and to keep our state on the forefront of tech business creation.
Heather McWhorter
Business Launch Director

Tyler Lumley
Business Launch Specialist
East Carolina University

Ashley McFarland (Interim)
Business Counselor
UNC Asheville

Jamie Stalfort
Business Launch Specialist
UNC Wilmington

LaQuesha Varn
Business Launch Specialist
Winston-Salem State University

Contributed by Heather McWhorter, SBTDC Business Launch Initiative Director
In 2021, new business filings continue to be strong, showing a surge of entrepreneurship across North Carolina. Are you also ready to take the leap into becoming an entrepreneur?
If you are not sure that entrepreneurship is for you, review the self-assessment in the SBTDC's Business Start-Up Guide starting on page 8. In this assessment, weigh your strengths and weaknesses for entrepreneurship related to personal characteristics, skills, and experience.
If you are ready to be an entrepreneur and are fine-tuning an idea to prepare for launch, be sure to connect with an SBTDC Business Launch Specialist or SBTDC Business Counselor. In addition to teaching Taking the Leap, Business Launch Specialists offer services such as assisting clients to:
  • Define value proposition
  • Complete a Business Model Canvas
  • Perform initial market and competitive research
  • Review business plans
  • Develop go-to-market strategy
  • Determine business structure
To request no cost, confidential assistance to launch your business, visit this website, click on the county of your residence, and then click on Request a Counselor. The Business Launch Specialists are here to help you launch your business successfully.

Now is your chance to sign up for a virtual Taking the Leap - Starting Your Business in 4 Weeks class to turn your big idea into the next great business. 

You will learn how to:
  • Identify potential markets
  • Discover your customer's needs
  • Create a business model or plan
  • Understand business finances
  • Develop an elevator pitch
  • Market your products and services
You will attend sessions online and work closely with mentors and peers in fun breakout activities designed to help strengthen your business ideas and prepare you for success. Classes are on Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. via Zoom and Canvas and are FREE to qualified applicants. Apply today at:

September 14 - October 5 | Applications open now
This is the last Taking the Leap of 2021. Act now!
Thanks to Sequoyah Fund for putting together this Taking the Leap promo video for us. Check it out!

For additional information, visit

Contributed by Jamie Stalfort, SBTDC Business Launch Specialist at 
UNC Wilmington
When writing a business plan, new entrepreneurs typically focus on marketing, sales, finances, etc. for good reason. However, another important aspect to focus on during the business planning process is operations. Day-to-day operations of the business are an important part of running a business! When not prioritized, these everyday tasks can overwhelm you. So how do you build out systems and processes that help make the mundane memorable?
Step 1: Write down all the repeatable tasks in your business and note how long each step will take to complete.
Step 2: Prioritize. Are there steps in this task that can be easily automated? For example, if one of your tasks is to send a welcome email to a new customer, can an email management system automate this email?
Step 3: If a task cannot be automated, find a process that works for you! For example, create and schedule social media posts in batches, or block time on your calendar each day to speak with your customers.
Time is your most valuable asset as a business owner, so use it wisely. Stick to it until you find a system that works for your business, as there is no such thing as "one-size-fits-most" in the startup world.

New this year, the Business Launch Initiative is offering a bimonthly Launch & Learn workshop to help aspiring entrepreneurs across North Carolina to obtain the final "idea vetting" information they need before launching their start-up or immediately after they launch their start-up.

On September 14, hear from Tom Ryan, who is an investor, entrepreneur, and business mentor in the Asheville area. Tom is the Founder & CEO of Supportedly, an entrepreneurship enablement company that provides training and on-demand advice to small business owners. Tom is also a General Partner at Start100, which is part angel fund, part accelerator, and part start-up coach for high-growth product entrepreneurs.
Some topics to be discussed at September's Launch & Learn event include: 
  • Who your ideal customer is
  • What drives them to buy your product or service
  • How to reach them
  • How to convince them to buy your product or service
Tom will start the session by sharing best practices for start-ups to sell products and services. He will then answer common fundraising questions, followed by questions submitted by attendees.

Launch & Learn: Getting Your First Sale
September 14, noon - 1 p.m.

5 W Hargett Street, Suite 600
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 715-7272