By Benjamin Collier
Our community work would not be possible without the hard work of people like Bill Horton, a Mercy Corps Northwest volunteer for the past year. Horton’s expertise as a small business consultant has made him a valuable member of our team — and a great asset to our clients and the community.
Horton is a small business consultant with BizFix. He came to us with a background in customer service and sales training, skills that matched well with our business education programs. He had changed jobs “on the decade,” even earning his stripes as a small business owner through prior ownership of Port City Pasta Co., a Lake Oswego Italian deli and catering company.
A Natural Fit
When a friend told Horton about Mercy Corps Northwest, the light bulbs blinked
bright. “I thought, ‘That’s what I do!’” he recounted. Because he liked helping
small businesses get started and grow, Horton wanted to find out how he could help.
Before long, Horton was offering tips to supplement our Business Foundations class,
helping teach the class and even expanding the curriculum. By sharing insights from
his own business experiences, Horton gained credibility and rapport with Mercy Corps
Northwest clients. They saw him as one who had walked in their shoes. “When you have
actually done what they want to do, they have a level of trust and confidence in what
you’re saying,” he noted.
Knowing When to Pause
Horton has the real-world wisdom that can help students avoid expensive mistakes.
A successful student, for instance, is not necessarily the one with the flashiest plan.
Sometimes, not starting a business is a better idea than starting it.
“I can help figure out when the idea is just not ready or the timing isn’t right,” he
commented. “If the student can hit the pause button, that’s a success, too – they don’t
go into debt, and they’re not exposed to a lot of other problems.” What he likes best is
giving clients and students the tools to make informed decisions, “whatever that decision
is going to be.”
As Mercy Corps Northwest delivers needed business tools to our community, volunteers
like Bill Horton share credit for the successful enterprises our neighbors are able to build.