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Key Idea: Win a Contest

Meet the Small Business Person of the Year from states throughout the USA and its territories.  Meet Hector Barreto, the former head of the Small Business Administration (US SBA),  and business owner, Mildred Council, affectionately known throughout Chapel Hill as Mama Dip.   More...

Key Question:


First, build your reputation among a small circle of customers.  Mildred Council had just $64 to start (hardly enough to pay rent and inventory), but she was known as a good cook.  Starting small with 18 seats (five small tables), she had to be pushed by those customers to expand.  And, expand she did.  She grew her business by a factor of four and developed a new comfort zone for doing her best. 

You can be sure that word-of-mouth marketing was effective.  All her customers were in part responsible for the new expansion to 80 seats and they wanted her to succeed. 

Think about it

How would your customers, your employees and your vendors react if you were recognized as an industry leader? Do you think going after that recognition is worth the effort it would take to get it?

Clip from: The Winners - SBA Awards

Every State & Territory of the USA: Each year the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes one owner from each state and each territory for their creativity and tenacity and for creating jobs. The SBA is the only agency in the federal government chartered to help turn dreams into realities. And it could be argued, this agency is closest to the intent and the results of the American revolution, that is, to make it possible for businesses to grow.

Since 1963 the President of the United States has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of Small Business Week.

In this episode of the show you meet the Small Business Person of the Year from Hawaii, California, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. You'll also hear from winners from Maryland and Montana. You'll also see  winners from Delaware, Guam, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Montana, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

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Mama Dip's

Mildred Council, founder

408 W. Rosemary Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Visit our web site:

Office: 919-942-5837

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1976

Win a Contest

HATTIE: Hi. I'm Hattie Bryant. In a culture where celebrity is often confused with heroism, we believe that the real heroes are in our midst, as close as the store owner next door, the architect across the street, or the Realtor around the corner.

Every week since 1994, we have told the stories of small business heroes on public television stations everywhere. PBS also has a special feed of this show to all the colleges and universities in the USA. To find the right small business owners to study, we turn to many organizations to help us. And the federal agency, the United States Small Business Administration, the SBA, is one we've turned to because each year, they recognize the small business person of the year from every state in the country.

(Voiceover) And we have told many of their stories, like Heliodoro Valadez from Texas; Linda Brunini and John Zucchi from Rhode Island; Jerry Shapiro from Missouri; Darby McQuade from New Mexico; Darlene Jeter from Massachusetts; RuthEllen and Jack Miller from Delaware; Judy Jacobsen from Washington; Joe Dannis from California; Lorraine Miller from Utah; and Cindy McEntee from Oregon.

(Voiceover) Now meet some of our newest discoveries. The small business owners of the year from each state are hosted by the Small Business Administration during its annual Small Business Week in Washington, DC. Hector Barreto, Administrator of the SBA, leads the celebration.

HECTOR BARRETO (Administrator, SBA): Good afternoon, everyone. Congratulations, again, on being selected as the top small business person from millions of small businesses in America. I know that the people who work for you, especially we in Washington who work for you, are very, very proud of your accomplishments. I want to thank you for everything that you do for small business every day. It is an honor to serve you.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Here, he announces the national winners. Third runner-up is Mildred Council from North Carolina, founder of the restaurant Mama Dip's.

MILDRED COUNCIL (Mama Dip's): I started out with 18 seats, and so my influences were my customers. The first customer to come in on that Sunday morning, they were my influences because they came back on Monday.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) On a Sunday morning in November of 1976, Mildred "Mama Dip" Council opened her restaurant with only $64 in cash and a reputation as a good cook. At the end of the day, she had a profit of $134 and she was in business. Now Mama Dip's is a Chapel Hill institution.

MILDRED: But with 18 seats, I always had a line standing, and I guess my customers started banging on me about why don't I expand, why I don't look for another place. And so I did get 80 more seats added by asking my neighbor if could he move and let me have that side. So he did that, and so this side -- it filled up.

HECTOR: Now along the way, what did you do when you needed assistance or help?

MILDRED: Well, the Small Business Administration is in Charlotte, North Carolina.


MILDRED: And so I called Charlotte and they sent me information about what to do; you know, the package to go to the bank. And then the bank helped me to let me know whether they can loan me any money. So that's how it happened.

HECTOR: I'm really glad you got the help. And we need to let other small businesses know that they can do the same thing.

MILDRED: Yeah. HECTOR: So one day they could be as successful as you are, Mama.

MILDRED: Yeah, yeah.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Success for Mama Dip now comes through multiple revenue streams. She has sold over 100,000 cookbooks and there are speciality items for the do-it-yourself cook.

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