It has been said that Louisiana’s Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) business consultants are the light in a dark tunnel for entrepreneurs and small business owners. While, initially entrepreneurs struggle to navigate their way to success, the LSBDC arrives to give direction, hope and a sign of relief. LSBDC at McNeese State University Business Consultant Susan Thibodeaux proved just that. So much so that she was named the 2017 LSBDC State Star.
The State Star is an award recognized by America’s Small Business Development Centers (America’s SBDC) that highlights a person who is an exemplary performer, makes a significant contribution to his or her state and shows a strong commitment to small business. The awards are presented at the America’s SBDC National Conference, which was hosted in Nashville during the week of September 4-8.
LSBDC State Director Rande Kessler said one can really appreciate the importance of the State Star Award during the national conference recognition ceremony. Every year the 63 Stars are presented to the 1500 consultants and managers “and the applause is deafening.”
“As each state name is called with the associated Star, applause erupts – and rightly so. Susan represented the best of the best for us,” Kessler said. “Louisiana has had a tough year for small businesses and people like Susan are indeed the light at the end of the tunnel for them.”
Kessler explained not only that, “What made Susan our Star this year was her dedication to doing whatever and whenever for her Center. With resources always slim, professionals like her that are dedicated to the state mission and the local host programs and milestones and the clients at the same time are rare and should be as recognized as any bright star in the sky.”
Thibodeaux has been part of the LSBDC at McNeese service center since September of 2014, where she has been an exemplary consultant in many ways. During fiscal year 2015-2016, Thibodeaux started 10 new business, achieved more than $5 million in capital infusion, and helped retain eight jobs as well as 34 employees.
In February 2017, Thibodeaux was named recipient of the LSBDC Customer Service Award, an objective determined by a satisfaction rating from her clients. And to top it all off, she’s Louisiana’s top business consultant for the year.
LSBDC at McNeese Director Donna Little said Thibodeaux truly deserves the honor to represent Louisiana as the State Star.
“She is an exceptional consultant because of her experience, background and passion for helping our clients succeed,” Little said. “Susan loves working with small business owners. She is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs with business plans, financial projections, working through operational problems – whatever it takes to make them build a small business. Susan also loves meeting goals, which means she takes our LSBDC productivity goals seriously.”
Thibodeaux said she’s honored and humbled to be “recognized for doing a job that I absolutely love.”
As a former business owner, Thibodeaux said she knows and understands the excitement of starting a business.
“But I also understand the fears, and frustrations of small businesses,” she said. “With my job, I’m able to help to lessen those fears and frustrations by sharing my knowledge and experience to help guide clients through the process of starting their businesses and to help them during those situations that are challenging.”
Thibodeaux explained she meets many entrepreneurs and small business owners who can’t see their way through early business phases. She said they just don’t know where to begin.
“They know their profession, but don’t know how to start and run a business,” Thibodeaux said. “But, I love when clients leave our first consultation and I can see the relief in their face, and they know the LSBDC is there to guide them and be there for them for the longevity of their business.”
Thibodeaux added, “I love helping my clients achieve their dreams of entrepreneurship.”
Little added: “Susan is kind, generous, smart and energetic. Her clients love her and we think the world of her, too. We are fortunate to have her on our team. Susan is a tremendous asset to the business community of southwest Louisiana.”