Laura Miller
Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at Arkansas State University
Jonesboro Residence
Education Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, University of Missouri; master’s degree in business administration, Pittsburg State University; certified business advisor; certified global business professional

What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far?

There have been and hopefully will be many fulfilling moments! I truly have one of the best jobs because I get to go to work every day and help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their dreams. Their achievements like grand opening, hiring their first employee, getting financing, expanding into new markets, securing government contracts, etc. are exciting milestone moments. I can live vicariously through their success (I’m a pretty risk-averse person).

What character traits do you think have benefited you in your success?

Like many people, I am detail oriented. Often entrepreneurs are creative types and look at the big picture. This is one of their strengths. But being able to help them focus on the details so they can complete the task at hand is critical. For example, helping them prepare a written business plan and monthly financial forecasts based on facts rather than thin air assumptions can be a challenge.

What was your dream job and why?

In college, I thought I wanted to work in banking/finance until I took my first finance class. Trying to memorize all those ratios changed my mind! I was really lucky in this career. While living in Pittsburgh, a business consultant position for the SBDC was advertised in the newspaper. I applied and got an interview. Then I pulled out some of my old textbooks and learned things I had forgotten since graduating.

When we moved to Jonesboro four years later, a training coordinator position was advertised for the ASU Center, so I applied. I’m still here 22 years later, so I would consider this my dream job.

I have the opportunity to go to work every day and help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve their dreams. I am amazed by the creativity and perseverance of the entrepreneurs at KTA. I have had many “I wish I had thought of that” moments. Also, I have great co-workers and supportive bosses.

How do you spend your time away from work? What are your hobbies?

My #1 favorite activity is spending time with my grandchildren. I notice and appreciate so many things that I didn’t notice when my boys were little. I’m also relearning golf. My objective is to get to the point where I want to save the score. My husband and I own two small businesses, so we help out with them as needed.

Can you share how COVID affected your business or organization?

Our center was busier during COVID than we have ever been. We were a point of contact for small businesses trying to survive. We needed to stay informed about COVID relief programs and funding opportunities. And those programs were changing every day. Additionally, we were preparing to launch our first Smart Growth Accelerator and needed to take our training events online. Zoom became our way to meet with clients in our ten-county area since we couldn’t travel. There are only three of us in our center. We had a new staff member hired, trained and started consulting before she even saw our offices.

If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it?

I would like to learn to be a better cook. I can follow a recipe, but I’d like to learn how to be a creative cook. Travel: A trip to Italy is at the top of my bucket list. Learn not to think too much and be more spontaneous.

What is your favorite app at the moment?

I’m not sure it’s my favorite, but it’s the most used app: Facebook. I like to follow up with my clients so I know what’s going on in their businesses. And of course, keep up with friends and family.

What advice would you give to young women starting out in their careers?

Keep looking for the career you love. Sometimes it takes years to realize that this is your calling.

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