Q&A with Penn State SBDC Centre County Business Consultant Elizabeth Fegert

Elizabeth Fegert is a Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) business consultant serving Centre County, specializing in providing small businesses with marketing and communications advice. She took some time to chat with us about her background, common marketing challenges small businesses face, and what small business owners can gain from attending Global Entrepreneurship Week Penn State.


Q: Can you describe your professional background and how you came into consulting?

I actually started my career as a high school English teacher. I have a degree in English and Communications from Penn State University. I’ve always been passionate about helping people accomplish their goals. After teaching for about eight years, I decided to come to Penn State and work with students and help them further their career. It was actually during that process that I realized there was this population of students who are really interested in working in a small business or startup environment.  

So I actually created a career fair that was designed to help connect those smaller businesses and startups with students who are interested in working in that environment. And through that work, I got connected to the Small Business Development Center. I realized that could make an impact in helping those small business owners through their marketing, their communications. And I first did that by helping the SBDC with their marketing and communication.  And I’m now doing that full time for clients. 


Why is it important to have an SBDC business consultant who is specialized in marketing & communications like yourself?

So there’s constantly a need for small business marketing support because a lot of business owners don’t have a marketing person on staff and they certainly don’t have a background or the expertise in marketing for a business or marketing in general. So I love that I’m able to use the knowledge that I’ve gained over the years in marketing as well as marketing specific to small business owners to really help them connect with their customers and help spread the word about their awesome products and services. 


What is an example of a marketing challenge small business owners face?

One of the biggest challenges that small business owners face when it comes to marketing their business is just not having an understanding of the strategies involved with effectively marketing a business. Many business owners rely on free or organic methods of marketing like social media, and think that that’s the best way to market their small business and connect with customers. 

And while social media is one great tactic, it’s not the end all, be all of marketing. And so without an understanding of all the options available to market a business, be those in a free or in a paid capacity, doing that yourself or hiring in some expertise to help you really be successful in your efforts, I’m able to provide those insights and those recommendations based on a customer’s product. Based on their industry, based on their target market, based on how they’re marketing their product, be it a solely digital world or in person in marketing because they have a brick and mortar store. 

So it’s really about giving them the tools to maximize their budgets and to maximize the amount of time they have, because marketing is really time consuming and it can be really overwhelming for small business owners. So it’s important that I break down all of the concepts involved with marketing a business into sort of digestible nuggets that a small business owner can tackle one thing at a time in a way that allows them to manage their small business marketing themselves, and do it effectively so that their time and budgets are well spent. 


What is your favorite part of helping small businesses?

I love working with small business owners, mostly because I get to meet such a cool group of people who are so passionate about their product or service and they just want to solve a problem for customers and they want to provide value in someone else’s life. So these are people who are driven, these are people who are really knowledgeable about their industry. 

They’re passionate, as I said, about their product or service. And I get to learn so many cool things just about the different things that people are doing and all the cool products and services that they create. All of the unique things that they’re doing to impact their communities. Because ultimately those customers and through the small business are making a positive impact on the local economy. 

And that’s really a part of our mission here at the SBDC is supporting economic development. So I love helping small business owners be successful and I love helping them contribute towards our overall mission and goal. 


Why should small business owners attend Global Entrepreneurship Week?

Global Entrepreneurship Week is just one program that we offer for entrepreneurs, for small business owners, for people who have an idea, who are thinking to start a business. And it’s such an important program because it is a week long series of events that bring together people from different service providers, from different organizations whose mission it is to support small businesses and help them be successful. 

And that goes all the way back to how do you develop an idea and make sure it’s a viable idea, that there is a need for that product or service in the market, because that’s the important first step before you even start a business. These events are designed through Global Entrepreneurship Week to help them explore an idea, to help them understand what you do with that idea once you have it.

How do you partner? How do you know the ins and outs and logistics of actually starting a business all the way through marketing a business? Hiring and managing employees, financial strategies to help you manage your small business accounting and be successful, and all sorts of just really amazing experts who are really talented in their field. We’re bringing those folks together.  

We’re helping entrepreneurs locally make connections to those organizations, to other people who might be collaborating with them, other community supporters, other people in the industry who are there to support and champion these small businesses. Most of our events are free. They’re easy to access. We offer them in person and online. So it’s easy for any entrepreneur, regardless of what stage in starting or managing a business they’re at, to attend and get some valuable insights that will help them more successfully run their business. 


Share this article