Business owner credits Roane State’s CBI course for startup assistance

Lynn Sullivan, owner of Strategic Design & Co. Real Estate, credits the Cumberland Business Incubator with giving her the tools to make her business successful.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY – When it came to setting up her unique company that’s both a real estate firm and a business that provides home interior designs, Lynn Sullivan said, “There were a number of questions that I didn’t know to ask.”

The answers came readily in a state sponsored nine-week microenterprise course titled “In Business, Now What?” offered by the Cumberland Business Incubator (CBI), operated by Roane State Community College. The CBI is the college’s effort to help jumpstart new businesses and help existing businesses in the area grow.

Sullivan is the owner of Strategic Design & Co. Real Estate, located at 25 Peavine Plaza, Suite 101, on Peavine Road in Cumberland County. 

With an extensive background in real estate, Sullivan said she began brainstorming the idea of her new company late last year and obtained her business license in January. “My background is interior design and I noticed that when a home sells, the seller is looking at a lower price because the interior hasn’t been updated.” 

That’s where her expertise with computer aided design, or CAD, comes into play, and customers can see her proposal for revamped home interiors. Her clients include existing homeowners as well as new buyers.

Sullivan said she knows Holly Hanson, director of both the CBI and Roane State’s Cumberland County campus. “I reached out to Holly about setting up my business and she said, ‘This is why we’re doing this class.’”

The class was held from late February through April, at first in person at the CBI and later in online meetings after the coronavirus pandemic prompted officials to close schools and businesses except those deemed essential. 

The class sessions were funded through a Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development LIFTTN Microenterprise Grant. Instructors were Hanson, Knoxville attorney Jake Horton and Joe Swift, who holds 90 patents and has worked for several big-name corporations.

Sullivan said she learned several important lessons from attending the CBI course, particularly about setting up her business model. She discovered, for instance, that it’s better to establish separate limited liability corporations rather than an umbrella LLC covering the different aspects of her business.

She said she learned that she needs to “put a team together for my business” that would include legal counsel, an accountant and a bookkeeper.

The CBI course “well exceeded my expectations,” Sullivan said. “I gained a greater understanding of copyright laws and stayed after classes to ask questions.” 

Hanson said the CBI regularly offers classes to entrepreneurs launching new businesses or growing their existing businesses, as well as rental space on site for those startups. For more information, visit, call (931) 456-4910 or email

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit or call (865) 882-4554.

Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.