Colorado native Lisa Hudson ’10 came to UNC with a strong appreciation for the role that small businesses play in communities and of the entrepreneurs who serve as their leaders. This appreciation provided her the foundation on which she built her career in small business consulting.
As current director of East Colorado SBDC and UNC BizHub, Hudson is making a name for herself and her clients across Colorado. She is applying local relationships, generational diversity and strong ties to UNC’s Monfort College of Business to help Northern and Eastern Colorado communities and businesses grow; and in doing so Hudson has become one of UNC’s rising recent graduate stars.
“I connect with the people that live and thrive in this region and I want to continue to help in developing the local economy,” shares Hudson. “Over the years I have helped my community develop and grow, and I’m looking forward to continuing on this path through my role as the Director of the East Colorado SBDC and UNC BizHub.”
Hudson shares her career pathway in a five point recent graduate highlight.
Built on her family’s background
Hudson’s awareness of small business development began with her father, a small business owner in La Salle, Colo. and continued through her education at UNC’s Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business.
“My father started his own business. He was an entrepreneur and general contractor, and started from the ground up. I understand the struggles and the great things that entrepreneurs go through.”
Recruited by the university to compete in track, Hudson chose UNC because it kept her close to home and provided a high quality business education.
“I decided to go to the business school because the reputation is incredible and I think that it can apply to a lot of different things that you want to do in life. Everyone is a sales person, whether you like it or not, you are always selling yourself and your skill set; and after growing up and seeing my father, it became my passion.”
From a night class to a career
As a marketing major, Hudson stocked up on courses and sought out opportunities to grow and apply her skills, among them was her enrollment BAMK 407 Small Business Counseling.
“I decided to take a night class in school, small business counseling. The class was taught by Dick Pickett and was the first time that I felt like I got ‘real-world experience’ working with actual client entrepreneurs. All of the practices and theory based ideas that you learn throughout your time at the university are applied to a real life business, a local business.”
It was because of Pickett’s course that Hudson landed her first job with East Colorado SBDC.
“One day I got a phone call, it was Dick Picket and he said ‘What are you doing this afternoon?’ I had just finished my accounting class and didn’t have afternoon plans. He said, ‘I’d like you to come down to the SBDC and interview.’”
Hudson rushed home, got ready and crammed in some research.
“I went in for the interview at 3 and by 7 p.m. I had my career set. It was an exciting time for me to be a fresh grad from UNC. I had a job lined up and in something that I had really enjoyed as a student.”
Hudson’s first position with East Colorado SDBC was a business consultant specializing in marketing. Within two years she was promoted to Associate Director and Director of Marketing and became chair for the statewide SBDC marketing committee.
In the seven years since joining SBDC, Hudson has advised more than 600 small business clients and clocked over 3200 hours of consulting services. When Pickett retired at the end of 2016, Hudson competed for the position and beat out six other finalists, earning her title as the next director of East Colorado SBDC and UNC Biz Hub.
Consulting with multi-generational experience
As director of East Colorado SBDC, Hudson became the youngest SBDC network director in the state and the first director promoted from within. Rather than let her age be a limiting factor, Hudson uses her position as a millennial to diversify her team and benefit her clients.
“Something that I always encounter is my age. I have to prove myself to my clients, but within the first meeting, I gain their trust and help them to see that I have an area of expertise that they don’t have – that’s what a consultant is for. Everyone in the Greeley office is a millennial while our field consultants are from the ‘been there done that’ generation. This mix gives our center an edge in supporting client businesses.
“We train business owners on up to date marketing, ecommerce, social media and building a brand online. The age make up is unique to our center as compared to others around the state.”
Growing Greeley’s economic brand
Hudson believes that Greeley has long been a community that supports its own. For her, Greeley’s small-town feel remains a part of its economic brand even at a time of great economic expansion.
“Since I started at SBDC, my focus has been in downtown Greeley. If you look back ten years, a student might say ‘I don’t think I’m going down there.’ Now, there is such a vibrant community of small businesses and activity in general. People are starting to see Greeley as this great place rather than the past connotations it has been known for; it is so wonderful that we are finally showcasing what is so special about this place. It has been fun for me to see it grow, thrive and attract a lot more business, and I’m hoping to help more of our small towns develop their downtown areas too.”
Hudson remains aware of the needs and opportunities facing the region’s small communities and is hopeful that they can take advantage of changing demographics and leverage their community brand in order to grow like Greeley.
“We’re encouraging our towns to invest in bringing their youth back home after college by making them vibrant and attractive to young families. The small businesses in our towns are attractive to a certain lifestyle and so we now see towns like Sterling attractive to young families and more people in general.
Benefits of a business school partnership
The Monfort College of Business is the only business school in the state to host a SBDC, a relationship that Hudson intends to strengthen as an alumna and director.
“We have a great relationship with MCB and partner on many things, one of which is the small business counseling course. It allows students to work with real businesses just as I did. But I’d like to have more engagement throughout the university as a whole.”
Hudson is fluent in Spanish and aims to tie SBDC services to the university’s foreign language programs in order to better support the region’s Spanish-speaking business leaders. Additionally, she connects with current business faculty to invite alumni to campus as guest speakers for her clients and current students.
Beyond the Monfort College of Business, Hudson and the East Colorado SBDC work with local municipalities, institutions of higher education, lending organizations, CPA’s and attorneys – making UNC a part of the robust network of service and support to actively advancing the region’s small business community.
Thank you to Lisa Hudson for sharing her career path and remaining connected to and supportive of the business education at UNC. Hudson also shares her regards to retired East Colorado SBDC director Dick Pickett for serving as her mentor, friend and boss. To learn more about the services of East Colorado SBDC, visit the center site at http://www.eastcoloradosbdc.com/.
About the Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business
A sound investment in the future, the Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business is committed to preparing students for a successful future in the business world. Dynamic expert faculty deliver excellence in business education and donor partnerships ensure future investments are made in student scholarships, faculty development and program support. Learn more about supporting the Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business through the Campaign for UNC by visiting give.unco.edu.