How the SBDC helped me find joy in my work again

Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Day is on March 16, and I wanted to take the opportunity to share how the Kentucky SBDC has helped me find the joy in my business again.

I’m an artist. Like a lot of artists, I’ve had other jobs that paid the bills over the years. About 10 years ago, a friend of mine saw what I could create and we started a blog and website about my art. I put a studio in a 10×10 shed and started working out of that space in my spare time.

Then, in 2018, I sold a couple of big pieces and I thought, “Hey, I can do this. This could be a real business for me.” Right as I started to build up my inventory, COVID struck. I lost my job. Suddenly, I had plenty of time to invest in making my business work. It seemed like a dream at first.

I was able to create a lot of pieces and focus on selling even more. The more successful my business was, though, the more panicked I started to get. I knew I would need to pay taxes, but when? How much? What did I need? I was in too deep to walk away, but I didn’t know enough to handle the business side of things on my own.

I started looking for business resources, and I realized—we talk a lot in this country about how small businesses are the backbone of the economy, but there sure are a lot of companies that are out there that want to take advantage of small business owners and entrepreneurs. I felt like there was no one I could trust.

I was frustrated and didn’t know where to turn. My family, understandably, only had so much capacity to hear me vent about my situation. Thankfully, I found the Kentucky Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Unlike other companies who said they could help me, the Kentucky SBDC didn’t ask me for money for the help. They were willing to listen and be a sounding board to my ideas and frustrations. They had a wealth of knowledge about how to run a business, how to account for my sales so I would be ready for tax season, and how to use the software and tools at my disposal.

I went from being someone who felt trapped by my business to someone who could enjoy it. My Kentucky SBDC business coach, Devanny King, even mentioned how much happier I seem these days. Truthfully, that joy is owed in large part to her and the help I’ve gotten from the SBDC.

As a business owner, you dream about the moment you become what you consider “successful,” but you may not anticipate the way that can feel like a burden without the right resources. I’m so grateful to be in a place where my work is a joy again.

John Batts is a recipiente of the SBDC’s 2021 Pacesetter Award and the owner of Stonewall’s Studio (, selling bourbon-inspired artwork and custom metal sculptures. To learn more about John, visit 

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center has been assisting the commonwealth’s small-business community since 1981. Through its statewide growing network of centers and an experienced and knowledgeable staff, the Kentucky SBDC provides unparalleled business coaching and training services that help existing business owners and potential entrepreneurs succeed. Our services include one-on-one business coaching, training workshops, market research, loan packaging help, assistance with financial projections and information needed to make informed business decisions. Kentucky SBDC is co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration and is administered by the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment in partnership with regional academic institutions, economic development organizations, the private sector and the commonwealth of Kentucky.


Kentucky SBDC is funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U. S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of SBA

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

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