Success Stories

Ask Kesara So how many businesses she has, and she’ll shrug her shoulders. “I lost count,” she might reply. At 23, So is already an experienced serial entrepreneur, and her next venture is to be her biggest yet.

So was 21 and in nursing school when her father passed away. Suddenly, with a mother who spoke little English and a sister in middle school, she was the head of the family. She was also suddenly in charge of the business, an Asian supermarket and grocery store called Seven Moons, that her family had started in Spartanburg after arriving from Cambodia.

As it turned out, business was a natural fit for So, who had dreamed not of becoming a nurse, as her father had wanted, but of being an entrepreneur.

“I was doing a business plan while studying bones!” So says of her time in nursing school.

That business plan became the basis for So’s first venture, Gift World, a gift shop located both within her family’s store and online that specializes in... Read More

Jesse Nix in front of The Key Shop wall of keys

In 1925, Ben-Hur was showing in theaters. Prohibition was in effect. And The Key Shop opened its doors in Columbia, S.C.

90 years later, The Key Shop, a full-service locksmith shop, is still in business, providing commercial, residential and automotive customers with a range of security services, including access control, door installation and, of course, locksmithing.

“You don’t stay in business that long by not doing something right,” says new owner Jesse Nix, a longtime Key Shop manager.

Jesse started at The Key Shop when he was 17. In fact, he knows the exact date: June 18, 1979.

“That whole legacy idea in my mind was always there,” he says. I was lucky enough to be hired by a company that had been around since 1925, so I knew it was going to be a stable business.

That stability comes from the business’s customer-focused service.

“There’s very few brick-and-mortar shops,” Jesse explains. “There is, unfortunately, a lot of bogus... Read More

"Listening" to His Business Key to Success for CEO of Award-Winning S.C. Business

Know thyself. And in the small business world, know thy business. As Rich Hagins, CEO of Upstate firm US&S, Inc., has realized, that's the basis for business success.

A retired Navy commander, Rich started his business in 2003 as Universal Supplies and Services with an initial $25,000 investment and two unpaid employees based out of a two-room Greenville office. Its initial focus was on janitorial and various other services, like security and maintenance.

Two years later, in May 2005, the business was accepted into the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, designed to help small disadvantaged businesses better compete for procurement opportunities in the federal government arena.

Over the next few years, the business grew by diversifying into additional industries and adding qualified and experienced employees to the team. By 2008, with 15 employees, the company’s capabilities had grown from its janitorial roots to include services like minor... Read More

Myrtle Beach Real Estate Broker Wins S.C.'s Top Small Business Title

In 2007, the housing market imploded. The real estate industry went into a tailspin. And Radha Herring – the 2012 South Carolina Small Business Person of the Year – started Watermark Real Estate Group in Myrtle Beach.

Radha had wanted to be an entrepreneur ever since she was a child growing up in Myrtle Beach. “I always wanted to have a successful business,” she says. “I think the concept of building something from scratch is exciting.”

And Radha had wanted to run a real estate company ever since she bought her first house in 1999.  “Real estate is the only investment you can enjoy with your family while waiting for it to appreciate,” she explains.

After a ten-year corporate career in telecommunications, Radha was ready to make her small business goal a reality in her hometown of Myrtle Beach, part of South Carolina’s famous Grand Strand. One of the first steps she took was reaching out to SCORE. SCORE–an SBA resource partner that provides free,... Read More