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Karen Caruso, owner and CEO of Mind Your Business, Inc. (MYB) in Hendersonville, NC has been named the 2011 North Carolina Small Business Person of the Year. Karen's entrepreneurial spirit was ignited in 1995 while watching an Oprah Winfrey show with her daughter on abusive child care providers. She decided at that moment what her future would look like.
Karen's early career was in security, knowing how to conduct background checks. Seeing a gap in the market, she focused on applicant screening services to the childcare industry. In 1996, Mind Your Business, Inc. (MYB) was launched in the basement of her New Jersey home with two employees and $2,500.
In a field predominantly led by men and large corporations, MYB faced challenges entering the marketplace. To combat these obstacles, she turned to SBA sponsored mentors. She has taken classes and received counseling through SCORE, the North Carolina Small Business & Technology Center (SBTDC) and Mountain BizWorks, an SBA Women’s Business Center.
MYB now employs 14 people and owns and operates a 3,000 square foot facility in the mountains of Western North Carolina. MYB posted record profits in 2009 and in 2010.
Annice Brown and Clark Fields at the SBTDC have worked with Karen to explore innovative ways to grow. Two recent examples include adding drug testing to their services and creating two proprietary software programs to help clients with visitor and fleet management screening. With research and development help from Western Carolina University, they brought these products to market, creating new customer opportunities. In November 2010, MYB was approved for a $25,000 SBA Express loan, under the Small Business Jobs Act, through First Citizens’ Bank to market the visitor management software.
Facing challenges in her local community has lead to Karen’s recognition as a leader for the advancement of women by the Hendersonville and Asheville Chambers of Commerce. Karen's supports organizations such as United Way, The Arby’s Foundation for the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of South Carolina through donations, volunteer work, and sponsorships.