Blandine is the International Programs Manager for the Small Business Development Center. She has over 15 years of experience in international strategy and specializes in international trade, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attraction programs, and ecosystem building. She manages the ENRICH in the USA – European Network of Research and Innovation Centers and Hubs – program funded by the European Commission.
We recently sat down with Blandine to chat about the work she does with the SBDC.
What areas do you specialize in and what is your favorite aspect of working as a consultant?
I specialize in international business development and strategizing in international business development. I primarily focus on technology companies. The most interesting part of my consulting work at the SBDC is the chance to work with a team to help clients build programs with the rest of the team here and our partners. As an immigrant, I feel like I can more easily relate to our clients who are immigrants.
What did you study in college? Do you need a college degree to start a business?
I got my masters in international business at IESEG, but also was able to attend university in Budapest, Hungary, as well as the University of Texas. You don’t need a business degree to start a business, but there are definitely certain industries, like information technology, where further education plays a major role in your ability to be successful.
What challenges do you think the SBDC is best able to help aspiring entrepreneurs solve?
I think we are able to really give structure to new businesses or help existing small businesses develop a structure where there was not one before. Because we are funded by the government, we are better able to focus on assisting entrepreneurs with a single-minded focus on helping them rather than money. Our team at the Temple SBDC is very diverse, and this allows us to provide a lot of unique insight. We’re one of the largest non-profit groups in the Philadelphia, Bucks, and Montgomery county area offering support.
What aspect of your work do you think makes the biggest impact?
I believe my biggest impact is based on the ability to develop new programs to help entrepreneurs. I’ve worked on a lot of global programing that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses. These programs provide specialized training to help businesses grow and thrive.
What are some common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when starting a business?
The biggest mistakes are not properly understanding their competition, not understanding cash flow, and not challenging traditional business models. The market in most industries has evolved rapidly over the past year and many entrepreneurs are looking to start traditional businesses without adapting their business plans to the new economic reality.
What was the most unique business idea you have worked on?
Innovation/intellectual property, creativity in the business model, and developing a unique way to engage clients are the common denominators of clients that I have been impressed with.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
It’s important to understand the personal cost of being an entrepreneur. This is an evaluation every entrepreneur needs to undertake. Being an entrepreneur means being responsible for all decisions and outcomes that happen in your business. You must be motivated to be in charge and to take responsibility. Some business endeavors begin out of necessity, a need for income. But if that mindset is not there, more traditional employment may be the prudent choice.
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