David Hesselmeyer (’02) owns On Target Preparedness, LLC, an Orange Owned, full service emergency preparedness consulting firm that provides a wide range of services including emergency preparedness training, AHA CPR training, emergency plan writing, exercise development and business continuity development. In addition, they offer grant writing services and assistance with hiring assessments.
Why did you decide to become a small business owner?
It was not really a decision I made personally. It was completely a God thing. I lost my job in 2011 and was looking to find another one as I was (and still am) married and had a daughter who was 3 years old at the time. I could not get interviews at all even for jobs two levels below what I was working when I was laid off. Out of nowhere, governmental agencies started calling me due to my experience to help them out and started paying me. The rest is history!
How did your Campbell degree prepare you to start your own business?
I received a BA in Government from Campbell. The focus on public administration informed me of many of the characteristics and requirements of government. It also taught me the need to have smart people around you. Looking back when I was a student was when I actually did my first contract work. I was asked by Harnett County Emergency Services to perform a Hazardous Materials Commodity Flow Study (i.e., a study to determine what hazardous materials are traveling through the County). Dr. David Thornton was a huge part of the Study and my success. He aided me in making sure my study was non-biased and statistically significant. I cannot thank him enough!
What is your favorite part of owning your own business?
As cheesy as it may sound, it is the impact I get to have on my staff and our clients. I am blessed to be able to hire and provide a good working environment for my staff. I am able through my staff to make huge impacts on our clients as well. They truly become family to us and that means a lot to us.
Why is it important for people to shop local and shop small?
I have always been one to attempt to shop local and small businesses even before I started my company. I think that one item that makes this important is that these agencies tend to care more. Small businesses do this because it is a passion. I know I eat, breathe, and sleep emergency services work. My staff and my passion come out in our work due to this. I think it also has cascading effects on our economy. You buy local and that sales tax stays local and the small business hires more and grows putting more money in the local economy. It is a win win all around.
What advice do you have for alumni and students who are interested in starting their own business?
The first thing they should do is spend a ton of time praying. This is a big step. There is a lot of work to be done. You will lose sleep and be stressed at times. By knowing that God’s will is for you to start this business, you have the greatest supporter you could ever have. Secondly, network, network, and when you finish that, network some more. I am not the smartest nor best at my job and business, but I have plenty of supporters, staff, and colleagues that aid in overcoming my shortcomings. Finally, get a good lawyer and CPA. Spend time with them and figure out what life looks life in terms of a business. What licenses do you have to have? What kind of legal insurance do you need? How do you set up your business? All these things come from having these two great resources.
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