"found that most business problems have a personal root, so I feel like a life coach sometimes."
Melinda B. Powers joined the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida as a business consultant in July 2019. Before that she practiced law for more than 12 years and lived the life of an entrepreneur during that time when she owned her own firm, focusing on estate planning and probate/guardianship needs. She also ran Melinda’s Confections for almost three years. She maintains her law license.
I help business owners pinpoint problems, find solutions and strategize, running the range from marketing ideas to financials.
I found that most business problems have a personal root, so I feel like a life coach sometimes, but I enjoy that. It’s rewarding work.
I started out my career in law. I did that for about 13 years and toward the end of that time, I was running my own firm, doing probate and guardianship.
I wanted to take a moment and catch my breath. I was a client of the SBDC and had been looking for a job at UNF. My consultant was the point of contact for the position. He said, “You’d be perfect,” and encouraged me. It was the last day to apply, so I got in right on time.
They asked, what do you think is an essential skill for a good consultant?
I found out later that I was the only person that responded: Be a good listener. You have to be a good listener because clients aren’t going to always tell you what you need to know. You have to read between the lines and know what questions to ask.
I grew up in Detroit. I wanted to get away from snow.
I spent four years at FAMU in Tallahassee and went back to Michigan for law school.
I came running back after I was done. Driving in the snow, walking and slipping, it just wasn’t for me.
I came back to Tallahassee in 2007 where I started my legal career with the Parks & Crump law firm.
I was there in the days when they were championing a case where a young man, Martin Lee Anderson, had died in Department of Juvenile Justice custody at a boot camp.
The family received a $5 million settlement from the state.
I came on as a law clerk and they said we’ll hire you as an attorney when you pass the Bar. That’s what happened.
They were awarded a multimillion-dollar settlement with the pharmaceutical companies that were being sued for the addictive nature of the drugs they were manufacturing.
Settlement money had to be divided among the families.
A lot of the people had passed away, so we set up an estate for all of them.
They put me in charge of more than 100 probate files, and I cut my teeth learning that process there.
I’m always learning. That’s my hobby.
It’s like, what can I learn today? Whether it’s a quick video, reading a book or talking to someone, I’m always absorbing.
Not many know that I completed a bachelor’s program in French Studies at UNF because I love French culture and thought it would be fun.
I like to travel, learn new things, go to new places, meet new people.
I also read a lot – nonfiction, business, self-improvement, personal development.
I’m back to reading one book a week for 2022.
I wasn’t a typical “kid” kid.
I’m an only child. I spent a lot of time with my parents and I just did what the adults did.
I thought it was fun. My mother prepared me very well for school.
When I entered kindergarten, I could read on an eighth-grade level. I could tell time. I could do basic math. She hadn’t even finished college at that point, but she knew how to teach me.
She ended up becoming a school teacher. She has lived here since 2013. My father’s always been in auto mechanics. He still lives in Michigan.
I had a dessert business, Melinda’s Confections, then I changed it to Melinda’s.
I made banana pudding with homemade vanilla wafers.
I was a One Spark creator in 2015 where I doled out more than 1,000 samples.
That happened while I was an SBDC client. My consultant, Kevin Monahan, pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had an opportunity with a local grocery store but didn’t have the capital to proceed. So, I said, I’m going to quit while I’m ahead. I can always come back to it.
Some people have what it takes. Some people are grasping at straws.
Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner.
It does take a specific set of skills. You have to have a certain type of determination and grit and not everyone can withstand that, myself included.
I do plan on doing something in the future. I’m just going to do it a lot differently.
There are some things in my back pocket that I’m working on, but not talking about right now.
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