The Catalyst Adapts to 21st Century to Meet the Needs of Entrepreneurs

What happens when an entire business model designed to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners on a personal basis is challenged by a large-scale pandemic?

Well, in the case of The Catalyst Center, it gets up, dusts itself off, rolls up its sleeves and shifts gears.

Agility: It’s the entrepreneurial way.

By taking a proactive stance in the midst of change and uncertainty, The Catalyst team walked the talk with its adaptability and flexible approach. Not only did they quickly adjust to the ever-changing landscape, they developed an enhanced business model in the process, allowing them to continue operations – and to expand their reach in the process. 

“One of the biggest challenges has been, is that our funding is from the Small Business Administration,” said Sandy Edwards, director of operations. “And we have to show all the good things that we do. “We’ve got to collect the data: Are we creating jobs? Are we creating new businesses?” 

Thanks to advances in technology, The Catalyst recently rolled out its new eCenter, an online data management portal. This system is designed to streamline back-office efficiencies, such as the registration and follow-up processes for workshops and special events. It also benefits clients by helping them effectively manage their profiles, sign up for programs and connect with a business coach. 

“We wanted to make sure that our clients have the best experience that they can and that we’re doing everything we can to help them from the conceptual idea of a startup to moving on through in every stage of their business life,” said CEO Lisa Davis Mays. “We really want to make sure that our small businesses are having the best possible user experience at The Catalyst, and what does that look like? It looks like streamlining the way we collect data.” 

These past several months have been a “baptism by fire” for the Catalyst’s new executives – each with less than a year under their belts. Leigh Christian, Tech Rich project manager began in Octobe; Operations Manager Sandy Edwards in November;, and Jennifer Stewart, the Women’s Business Center project manager, in March; Davis Mays is the newly minted CEO. 

For Davis Mays, it’s been especially noteworthy. Taking the helm May 1, was already filling the oversized shoes of retiring CEO Joanne Randolph. 

“I have learned there are categories of curve balls,” said Davis Mays. “Regular curve balls, flaming curve balls, and COVID curve balls. Regardless, I am getting great batting practice.

“We’re creating good margin for what’s really important, which is relationship building, and coaching and training. And helping our clients take steps toward surviving, thriving and succeeding.”