Haywood Community College


Contacts: Debra M. Davis, Diana S. Conard

185 Freedlander Drive

Clyde, NC 28721

828-627-4521 Fax: 828-627-1218

Date: 1-17-07

For immediate release.

HCC’s REAL Class Teaches How to Open a Small Business and How to Form Lasting Friendships

By Diana Conard

When Frankie and Ursula Ceballos, owners of Carolina Cigar Company in Waynesville, enrolled in the last Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) class at Haywood Community College, they never realized what they would get out of the class. Not only did they learn the process of opening their own business and how to find the resources they might need along the way, they created lasting friendships and connections that proved beneficial in getting their business off the ground.

Members of the 14th class formed a special bond that still continues today. The friendships were evident when preparations to open the unique cigar shop in Waynesville drew quite a number of their classmates to pitch in to make their dream become a reality. Classmate Ralph Iglesias of Crawford Creek Electric lent his hand in wiring the establishment. Martin Klein, owner of Tupelo’s for the Home, helped order and acquire furniture for the Cigar Company. Classmates Barbara and Michael Williams, owners of Four Winds Trading Company, helped paint and decorate the new business. Carolina Cigar Company sells the incense and candles of another classmate, Lane Sebesta of Four Stiks Exotic Inscents.

Before moving to North Carolina from Florida, Ursula Ceballos had previous experience with starting a business and putting together a business plan. When she read about the REAL class in the newspaper, she decided it would be a good way to learn about the different laws in North Carolina.

“Putting together a business plan is very overwhelming,” she explains. “This class made you realize you can do it. Everyone that came to the class had different objectives and got something different out of the class.”

For Frankie Ceballos, he learned the dos and don’ts of starting your own business. “I got a lot of good ideas and knowledge from the other students in the class,” he explained. “It takes someone with a lot of energy and dedication to start a new business. You must go to this class with an open mind and be willing to help each other out.”

The class helped the Ceballos realize that the shop they wanted to open was unique to the area. All of the smokes sold at Carolina Cigar Company are hand rolled and pesticide free. Located on Main Street in Waynesville, the company sells premium cigarettes, pipes, chewing tobacco, and name brand cigars. The cigars range from $1.50 to $9 each.

Participants in the REAL class explore the opportunities and challenges of opening a business. HCC is the first community college to embrace the notion of teaching entrepreneurship with a hands-on approach. The next class at HCC will begin on January 21 and run through February 23. The five-week class meets 2 nights per week at a cost of $55. No books are required.

“The REAL class is an interactive, hands-on experiential class,” explains Sharron Donnahoe, HCC Small Business Center Director and recruiter for REAL classes. “REAL is a great resource for this type of learner. You get the help you need before you open your business or you get help to grow an existing business.”

In addition, the Small Business Center is always available to offer free seminars, business plan software, and one-on-one business advising.

Facilitator for the REAL class is Kathy Hyatt. She is certified to teach by NC REAL. Hyatt says students in the REAL class are in control of what they accomplish. They often network together to capitalize their goods and services to be a player in each other’s successes.

The REAL class walks participants through the process of starting their own business while teaching them to think ahead. They receive handouts, templates for their home computers, and business planning journals. Some topics covered include: marketing, financials, demographics, pricing, legal, insurance, and funding their own business.

The class is arranged in an informal setting, a round table discussion. Several guest speakers such as a small business loan lender or a small business owner hold question and answer sessions.

According to Hyatt, the team dynamics of the class helps students refine their business idea. “They brainstorm and get feedback from each other. It’s very exciting for me to watch them through this process. I get a feeling of satisfaction when they follow through and open their own business.”

“The next REAL class is ideal for someone considering opening their own business,” Donnahoe says. “The course is offered prior to the deadline for the second annual Haywood County Business Start-Up Competition.”

The competition will award up to $10,000 to the winner of the best business plan. The purpose of the competition is to encourage the development and start-up of businesses in Haywood County and the creation of jobs. Individuals who demonstrate they are in the process of starting a new business in Haywood County within 12 months of the date of the award, May 2007, are eligible.

The Business Start-Up Competition was developed through the initiatives of the Business and Community Development Committee of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. Other organizations helping with the competition are the Haywood County Economic Development Commission and HCC.

Last year, 16 applications were entered, 10 of those have successfully opened a business in Haywood County. The deadline for applications is February 23. For more information or to apply for the award, contact the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce at 456-3021.

HCC continues to expand entrepreneurship throughout the college through curriculum courses and continuing education courses. To pre-register for the next REAL class or for more information about the class, call the Small Business Center at 627-4512.


(Cutline: ) Frankie and Ursula Ceballos, owners of Carolina Cigar Company in Waynesville, are pictured with HCC Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) Class Facilitator Kathy Hyatt. The Ceballos enrolled in the last REAL class at HCC to learn the process of opening their own business and how to find the resources they might need along the way. They also created lasting friendships and connections that proved beneficial in getting their business off the ground.