Marcus Carr has been the director of the Central Texas Business Resource Center for almost 12 years. He moved to Killeen to run his own business, an Internet service provider, which he ultimately sold. Now he works to help local entrepreneurs realize their dreams of owning a successful small business.
What is the small-business atmosphere like in the Killeen-Fort Hood area at the moment?
Right now, everything is kind of on hold ... as far as people wanting to move forward with their plans. There is no lack of ideas. But I like the quote from Nolan Bushnell, who founded Atari: “Everyone who’s taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” I have a lot of people who seek us out to learn what it really takes to start a small business. So we have developed relationships with (Killeen) City Hall and of course, the (Greater Killeen) Chamber of Commerce to find avenues to success for these people. But for whatever reasons, it seems like people are hesitant at the moment.
What small-business sector would you say Killeen-Fort Hood is particularly lacking?
This area has always been an overwhelmingly service-oriented community. A lot of the manufacturing is actually in the eastern part of the county. We need more manufacturing, somehow, some way. A lot of people who have a skill or know a trade are attracted to our area, usually because of the Department of Defense. But I would say manufacturing is something we really need.
What is the biggest challenge of running a small business that is specific to this area?
I think businesses need to get more exposure. We have a very transient community, so it is very hard to get the word out again and again and again. ... You have to always be working on your marketing plan, trying different things. People are always coming and going in this community. That makes it hard to establish a name or a brand. Of course, most small businesses do not have a large advertising budget. What I have found is that networking helps a lot. Get out there and actually meet other people and talk about your business. This is a large town, but it has small-town values. People like to support local businesses. But the key is to get out there.
How does your background in business help you succeed in your current job?
It helps a lot because I have been there, done that, and in most cases, I have tried it, whether they worked or not. I am able to comfortably put myself in their shoes. I am able to look at it from a standpoint of what I would do if I was the owner. How would I fix it? How would I resolve a situation? I have well over 25 years of business experience, so I am well suited to help people grow their businesses. My business background helps me come up with solutions for the people I work with. Look at the bookshelf behind me. The reason it is full of books about small business is running my own business taught me you are never done learning. There is always something that can make you better. And I learned a lot of that when I was running my own business.