Women in business: Explore Asheville’s business resources

Michelle Ballard/Photo by Racheal McIntosh

Editor’s note: For our special Women in Business issue, we asked women in our local business community to share insights they’ve gained through their work in Western North Carolina. Here is one of those stories.

It is an honor and privilege to be a female business owner among the many amazing businesses started right here in Western North Carolina. I had the idea for Asheville Picnic Co. back in 2015 but let the seed grow for several years before launching the company in spring 2020.

If you have a great idea and entrepreneurial spirit, remember that you don’t have to know it all or do it alone. There are so many fantastic resources available to those looking to start a businesses in Asheville, and many of them are free.

My first stop as I looked to start my business was the Small Business and Technology Development Center, where I had the guidance of two brilliant business counselors, Ashley and Sandra. That led me to take a class with Mountain BizWorks, which not only teaches amazing courses but also offers access to business financing. Being a business focused on the outdoor industry opened another door for me with the Waypoint Accelerator program and the Outdoor Gear Builders. Also, work with our Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce has led to many new relationships, connections and opportunities for growing my business.

My advice to any woman looking to start an entrepreneurial journey is to take the time to explore all the resources we have in Asheville. We are blessed to live in a community that is built on small business, supports one another and loves to collaborate. Get involved with our local business community — it’s important to show support to other businesses, too! If you have a great business idea, don’t feel as if you have to know everything to start. Lean on the expertise and guidance of our incredibly supportive business community, and take it one day at a time.

— Michelle Ballard
Owner, Asheville Picnic Co.


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