Starting a new business during an international pandemic could be a bold move or a potential disaster.
Photo: After working at several prestigious Fortune 500 companies, Lander University alumnus Terrell Turner ’07, and host of the popular show, Business Talk Library, started his own business to help small business owners turn their dreams into reality.
But having honed strong leadership and business skills in corporate America, Lander alumnus Terrell Turner stepped bravely out on a limb last spring and secured his footing.
He didn’t falter or fall, and today he’s hard at work consulting with small and mid-sized business owners to help them achieve their dreams. His company, the TLTurner Group in Charlotte, N.C., offers a wide range of services to businesses, including financial health assessments, pricing and profitability analysis, individual consultations, accounting and finance support – just for starters.
As if that weren’t enough to keep him busy, Turner also hosts a popular show, Business Talk Library, on YouTube. The show, featuring interviews with business owners and entrepreneurs from all walks of life, tackles topics that many business owners encounter in their daily operations. Viewers get advice on a wide range of topics from financing, entrepreneurship and taxes, to advice on moving creative ideas from dreams to reality, and learning how to pick up the pieces after a crisis.
An easy-going, but astute conversationalist, Turner brings each person’s business experiences to the forefront and helps them tell their stories, which become teachable moments for viewers.
“Many people have great ideas, but don’t know how to get started. Or, they are busy running a business and encounter obstacles that they didn’t anticipate,” said Turner, 35, whose executive positions with Fortune 500 companies have given him the foundation and expertise to advise clients.
“Some business owners feel alone in the challenges they have. Business Talk Library shows them that other people have had similar experiences and have solved these same problems. They are not alone, and they can work through what they are facing,” he said.
The show also has helped him develop networking skills that he uses in his own business. “I was starting my business at the beginning of the pandemic,” he said. “I wondered at times if it was the right thing to do. If I was going to be successful, I knew that networking in a remote world was going to be vital. In 2020, I used the show to meet 263 new people through one-on-one conversations.”
He was quick to answer the call from The Lander Foundation last spring to bring attention to the newly formed Student Crisis Fund, established for Lander students struggling financially because of the pandemic. Turner created a video about the fund that was posted online and distributed to alumni, donors and a wide University audience.
“Lander became one of the first in the state to develop this type of fund,” Turner said. “I was happy to assist the foundation with this project.”
That effort was followed by another video for Lander’s Day of Caring. Turner, who recently was named to The Lander Foundation Board of Directors, said he is pleased to be able to give back to his alma mater. “My education at Lander opened many doors for me,” he said. “Being part of the foundation board means that I can help someone else have the same kinds of opportunities that helped me.”
As a high school teenager, Turner visited larger universities before coming to tour Lander’s campus in Greenwood. The son of a military veteran who had retired in Columbia, Turner said a Columbia High School football coach encouraged him to visit Lander.
Turner followed the coach’s advice, and was impressed with the leadership opportunities that he would have at the University. He became immersed in campus organizations, including the fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, was elected as president of Lander’s Student Government Association and selected for a business internship in Mexico.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Lander University in 2007, Turner went to work in corporate America while pursuing a master’s degree in accountancy through a summer program at the University of Notre Dame. His career in public accounting began with the internationally acclaimed Ernst & Young. He’s climbed the corporate ladder by serving in multiple finance leadership roles in the United States and Brazil; and in Fortune 500 companies, such as Navistar and General Electric.
“My education at Lander put me on the trajectory that I’m experiencing now,” said Turner. “I had great experiences inside and outside the classroom, which enabled me to attend Notre Dame and pursue my goals of working for some of the world’s leading businesses.”
He said he is fortunate to draw on the expertise of his wife, Lola Turner, an executive at Honeywell, as he builds the TLTurner Group, which has found a niche among restaurants and food-related businesses. “These businesses are vital to every community, and many have suffered in the pandemic,” he said. “Our company is working to help them have the financial skills and knowledge to rebuild and grow.”
The Turners hope to pursue their passion of traveling again in the future, but they also have found a hobby for their limited free time – working jigsaw puzzles. “We cleared the island in the kitchen to make room for our puzzles,” he said.
It’s not uncommon for them to unwind after a busy day solving other people’s problems by focusing on the interlocking pieces of a 2,000-piece puzzle.
No matter the difficulty — whether it’s fitting odd-shaped pieces into a finished picture or taking on the challenges of helping a restaurant or new business grow — Turner is leading the way in solving the puzzling questions presented to him.