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Monday, July 8, 2019

When Camille Kustin visited Paul’s Automotive in Sacramento, Calif., for the first time, she didn’t plan to stay longer than it took technician Mike Spellman to repair her car. Seven years and three kids later, the two are working side by side at that very same shop, which Mike now owns.

At the time Camille met Mike she worked for the State of California. She loved her job, but after giving birth to the couple’s twin sons she discovered full-time childcare for a total of three boys was prohibitively expensive–about $4,000 per month. They decided the flexibility that comes with owning a small business would be a much better fit based on their family’s needs, plus Camille’s background made her a good fit to take over the administrative side of the business.

“I come from the state government world where there is always a process for things, always a checklist or a binder,” she said. 

Paul’s Automotive opened in the 1980s. After working there for 20 years, Mike purchased the shop from the original owner and made some much-needed upgrades by investing in technology to help the business run more efficiently. Other investments included paying for their technicians’ classes, trainings and Automotive Service Excellence certifications to ensure that they had skilled employees.

Beyond tackling workforce challenges, Mike and Camille also have to adapt to evolving expectations. They found customers today want automotive work done quickly and cheaply, and prices are being forced down even further thanks to websites like Yelp.com that make comparison shopping easy. Instead of devaluing their work, however, Mike and Camille took a different approach. They are instead focusing on building relationships and earning a loyal customer base that is willing to pay more for quality work.

“At dealerships, customers are just a number,” Camille said. “For us, it is flipped. Corporations say ‘get the numbers and get the cash.’ For us, we want to build the relationships first and then the money will come.”

That approach is working. Their business has grown from four employees to 11, and Camille and Mike just opened a second shop called Mike and Sons Automotive in downtown Sacramento.

Once her kids start school, Camille plans to go back to her original career. But for now she loves the freedom of making her own schedule.

“Being part of a small business just works for my family,” Camille said. “There aren’t many other kinds of opportunities out there where you can have a good job and time to care for your kids while they grow up.”

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

When Noelle Curtis was working to clear up her acne and hyperpigmentation, she noticed not many spas addressed the specific skincare needs of women of color. So instead of continuing to look for someone else’s solution, she decided to become an esthetician herself. After a whirlwind corporate career Noelle went on to open Pretty Dapper Day Spa, which offers a variety of services to Chicagoland clients of all skin types and skin colors.  

When Noelle started her business, she would make house calls on weekends and work 9 to 5 during the week to pay the bills. She never had to work too hard at marketing her company, though. She invested in a Groupon promotion and hasn’t had to pay for any advertising since. That one promotion established a loyal customer base that helped spread the word about her spa. 

“I am very proud of my client base,” Noelle said. “I personally am always willing to share resources and connections, and I have been blessed that that comes back to me. My customers are always looking to network for me, and they helped me gain even more customers.”

Even though Noelle opened her day spa just six years ago, she always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, she knew from a young age that she didn’t want to work for anyone else. As a teenager, she operated her own babysitting business. In college she owned her own boutique, and freelanced as a personal shopper and assistant. But being the daughter of a small business owner, she was never blind to the challenges that can come with owning a business. Watching her father struggle at times to keep his business afloat taught her some of the most important lessons about life and entrepreneurship. 

“It taught me determination in pursuing your passion, but also about the necessity of keeping an eye on the money,” she said. “Owning a small business isn’t easy, but being a business owner is about asking yourself, ‘Where do you want to struggle? Do you want to struggle for someone else or for yourself?’”

Although networking and customer service come easily to Noelle, qualified and reliable employees do not. Noelle, however, is constantly thinking like an entrepreneur. She is halfway through her 10-year plan to start her own beauty school where she can train estheticians and beauticians to provide top-notch treatments, care and customer service. Part of this plan is to provide an in-salon childcare service for her fellow working mothers and to start selling her own beauty products. 

Even though entrepreneurship has its stresses, working for herself means Noelle has the flexibility she desires to raise her kids. She can pick her daughter up from school and stay home with her when she’s sick. And, with another baby on the way, this flexibility is increasingly important. But being a small business owner means more to Noelle than just making her own hours, it is also about being a role model for her daughter, and it’s paying off: Noelle's daughter is showing interest in entrepreneurship and even opened her own lemonade stand. 

“Entrepreneurship is like a rocket ship,” Noelle said. “You burn all the fuel in the beginning and then you start to coast but not without turbulence. At the end of day, though, it is worth it to have the independence and flexibility I didn’t have working for someone else.” 

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

This post originally appeared on Venturize.org

In celebration of our new partnership with America’s SBDC, Venturize co-hosted a Twitter chat during National Small Business Week to talk about the top tips and resources to help small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs become loan ready. We were happy to be joined by our friends at Intuit QuickBooks, the New Jersey Business Action Center, Small Business Majority, BIGG Success and BizBuySell. There were also a number of SBDCs that participated, including the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, New York SBDC, University of Minnesota Center for Economic Development and Temple University SBDC.

Below is a brief recap of the questions and a sample of the great tips and information shared during the chat:

Q1: What are the different options out there for small business owners looking for credit? What types of lenders and credit products are available to small business borrowers?

New York SBDC @nysbdc

A1: Loans through commercial banks are the most common. Other options include economic development loans, which are usually low-interest microloans available through local or regional organizations, private equity investors & crowdfunding. #SmallBizChat #SBDC #SmallBusinessWeek

Intuit QuickBooks @QuickBooks

A1: We’ve identified the pros and cons of the 5 most common ways business owners can fund future #growth. One option: a working capital business loan, read on here: https://intuit.me/2LugeTa #SmallBizChat

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

In honor of National Small Business Week, we asked several members of our national Small Business Council to share their expert advice on starting and running your own business. 

Our panel includes

Harland Henry: CEO and founder of SunBiz Showcase Alliance, an economic and community development advocacy company focused on the development of small enterprises based in Tampa, Florida. 

Jessica Jolly: Founder of ALT-Enter, a Chicago-based digital coaching practice that teaches adults the practical uses of the features and functionality in Microsoft Office and other digital products.

Nancy Clark: Owner of Drive Brand Studio, a branding and advertising agency based in Conway, New Hampshire that specializes in medium and small business, nonprofits and government agencies. 

Paul Wichman: Co-owner of the BrightStar franchise in Mill Valley, California, which provides high-acuity nursing services for people who wish to stay in their own homes who are in need of intensive care or are on hospice care.

Q: What has been your proudest moment as a small business owner?
 
HH: When I was asked to join the Hillsborough County Board of Advisors for the Economic Development Innovative Initiative. As an advisor on the board, I was instrumental in helping several start-up companies launch and build capacity while getting funding and mentoring for many new entrepreneurs.
 
JJ: A few weeks ago, I bought business insurance for the first time since starting my business. It was expensive, but crossing this milestone is showing I am slowly building something. 
 
NC: That we came out of the recession. We buckled down, turned down the heat, shut off lights and just dug in. It was an extremely humbling time because I had to call every person/vendor/partner whom we worked with and tell them we were in financial trouble. Without exception, every single person told me to take my time and pay when I could. Being able to be that humble and watch the result was a proud moment.  
 
PW: We have received many awards, but the recognition pales in comparison to seeing the positive impact we make on people's lives. I am proud to receive unsolicited feedback from team members about how much they love working at BrightStar or from family members about how much they appreciate the compassion demonstrated by our nursing team.

Q: What are some of the resources you wish you had known about when you were just starting out?
 
HH: Most people look for sources of financial help, but I wanted technical assistance and that’s why you need mentors in your field. One of the resources a startup needs most is helpful and encouraging words of advice. 
 
JJ: Invest in conferences. Start by finding local business startup meetups. For me, the networking at these events has helped in meeting key players in the space, meeting new clients and learning new skills to grow my business.
 
NC: I wish I had a mentor or advisor — someone who had gone through some of the things I would go through during my “future” business self.
 
PW: Crabtree, Rowe and Berger. If every business owner launched with the discipline taught by Greg Crabtree and his team, the success rate of small businesses would be double what it is today.

Q: What is one piece of advice you think small business owners should be given more often?
 
HH: Small businesses need advice on getting advice. As a small business advisor, I encourage every small business to have a board of advisors.
 
JJ: Be prepared for some hard, but rewarding years ahead. Owning and running a business is a time commitment, not a 'get rich quick' environment. Don’t romanticize entrepreneurship. Being honest and realistic about expectations will go a long way.
 
NC: Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, be a leader and a coach not a boss or a quarterback, and always be humble. 

PW: Keep it simple. Understand the biggest levers you control and determine the best way to measure them. Then socialize those metrics throughout the organization and watch them like a hawk.
 
 
Q: What is the most satisfying thing about being a business owner? What makes it all worth it?
 
HH: Knowing I assisted several clients to reach their goals. What makes it satisfying for me is a phone call or message saying, "Thank You...". 
 
JJ: The reason I left the corporate world was ultimately because in that space your growth and happiness is dependant on how much the company values you. Owning my own business, if I want to take time to learn something new in the tech space, I can spend the time doing it, and it could be a new tool to include in my business model. 
 
NC: The ability to be nimble, flexible and change the world.  And I LOVE being a coach and mentor to people. To watch them grow, learn and problem-solve.
 
PW:  I've been able to build a culture of trust, collaboration and compassion. We trust each other enough to engage in rigorous debate to tackle big issues and constantly improve how we deliver services to our clients. I love coming to work every day because I love the people I work with. We laugh even on the most stressful days!

Our Small Business Council is comprised of 15 veteran small business owners who come from a variety of industries and backgrounds. They volunteer their time and entrepreneurial expertise at board meetings, public events and in the media to help Small Business Majority identify and address the biggest issues facing small businesses today.

 

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Friday, May 3, 2019

Small Business Majority’s Outreach Team advocates for entrepreneurs on two fronts: It supports policies that would benefit small firms, and it offers workshops and events that help small business owners grow their companies. Over the coming months, we’ll be sitting down with members of our Outreach Team to provide an introduction and let small business owners know how our team members can assist them.

This week we are spotlighting Bianca Blomquist, Small Business Majority’s Northern California Outreach Manager.

Q: What is your role at Small Business Majority?

A: I’m really fortunate to be an Outreach Manager in Northern California. It’s a unique place to work in this industry, specifically because of my proximity to the Bay Area and all the non-profits and mission-driven organizations that operate here. I have access to all these different organizations that are coming together to address the small business lending gap and the associated issues with a lack of lending in that space.

Q: What is your background?

A: I was born and raised in Minnesota, but prior to this job I lived in Washington, D.C., for almost 10 years. I moved there right after I graduated college with the goal of getting a job on Capitol Hill. I was only supposed to be in D.C. for six months, but I ended up falling in love with the political culture in DC.

I got an internship working for then-U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.). It was around 2010, which was a really interesting time because we were right off the heels of the economic crisis, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act had just been implemented. That was what made me interested in financial services issues in the first place. It wasn’t because I am particularly business-minded, but because of the equity issues in that industry.           

Q: Why Small Business Majority?

A: What attracted me initially was the constituency. The common denominator in my work had been working families, but when I saw an organization that was advocating for small business owners I thought this would be a new constituency for me. But it’s also one that bridged a political divide that was becoming more and more apparent in D.C. in 2018.

Q: How do you support small businesses in Northern California?

A: Anyone can be a consultant for small businesses, but what I think makes us unique is we connect small business owners with resources that already exist, especially resources that are free or low cost and unbiased and trustworthy. Small business owners of all backgrounds are in a vulnerable position, and for woman-owned businesses or business owners of color, there are systemic barriers between them and success. If we want to have a direct impact on people who are struggling in America, small business owners are definitely that group.

The efforts California is making to change the way it treats its small business owners is unique. California is implementing policies like CalSavers, which is California’s new state-run individual retirement account for small business owners who don’t currently have access to a work-based retirement plan. I see it as an honest effort by the state to attempt to level the playing field for small business owners so they might attract better talent and retain their workforce.

Q: What have you learned as an outreach manager that you wish you could tell all small business owners?

A: I would say: “You are not alone.” There are other small business owners who are going through the same things you are, and there are people who have made the same mistakes and bounced back.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Cuando Maritza Gómez no pudo conseguir un trabajo, tomó el asunto en sus propias manos y puso en marcha un negocio.

Maritza, propietaria de MG Custom Printing en Riverside, California, se mudó a los Estados Unidos desde México cuando tenía nueve años. Después de comenzar su negocio, decidió estudiar administración de empresas en la Universidad Estatal de California, San Bernardino. Mientras estaba en la escuela, participó en los programas de administración de empresas en el campus, los cuales desarrollaron aún más su espíritu empresarial.

Maritza realiza impresiones personalizadas desde su casa. Utiliza su tienda y sitio web de Etsy para vender todo tipo de impresiones personalizadas en diversos objetos, desde tazas hasta matrículas. Cuando Maritza lanzó inicialmente su negocio, le pidió ayuda a su madre, Teresa, pero no tenía idea de qué tanto participaría en las operaciones. Cuando Maritza comenzó una línea de ropa inspirada en su herencia mexicana, Teresa terminó asumiendo esa parte del negocio, realizando la costura y diseño por sí misma.

"Trabajar con mi madre me ha dado la oportunidad de conocerla desde una nueva perspectiva", dice Maritza, y agregó que se ven más a menudo de lo que normalmente lo harían y el negocio le da a su madre un escape de los factores estresantes de su vida.

A lo largo de su carrera, Maritza ha estado muy involucrada en su comunidad. Ella se desempeña como juez de planes de negocios de forma voluntaria para el programa empresarial "It's Your Time" del Inland Empire Business Center, donde revisa los planes de negocios de los participantes y determina si pueden aprobar o no el programa. También se conectó con mentores en otra organización local de mujeres de negocios, y retribuye a la organización colaborando con sus comunicaciones por correo electrónico y administrando el registro de su evento.

Maritza también se enorgullece del trabajo que realiza para apoyar a la comunidad inmigrante local. Organiza talleres empresariales para estudiantes que no están protegidos por DACA. Este trabajo la inspiró a lanzar una campaña en la que vendió prendedores especiales para mochilas y donó la mitad de las ganancias a una organización de estudiantes como parte de un fondo de emergencia para estudiantes indocumentados. El evento recaudó $150 en su primer intento y Maritza espera que un día aumente a $10,000 para poder comenzar un fondo de becas.

Maritza también tiene grandes planes para el futuro de su negocio. Espera tener una propiedad pronto para poder mudar su negocio de su casa y contratar empleados. Además, piensa conservar la mayor parte de su negocio en línea, pero sueña con abrir una sala de exposición. También espera construir un almacén donde no solo pueda enviar y fabricar sus propios productos, sino que también se convierta en proveedor del Inland Empire. En este momento debe viajar hasta el Condado de Orange para obtener suministros, y conoce a mucha gente en su industria que se beneficiaría si tuviera un proveedor más local.

La verdadera pasión de Maritza es ayudar a las personas a tener éxito en los negocios y ella aspira a convertirse en consultora de negocios algún día. Maritza aconseja a otros empresarios inmigrantes que pueden sentirse desanimados a "Encontrar formas innovadoras para perseguir su sueño. Hay formas de iniciar su negocio legalmente, incluso si no es la forma tradicional".

Al final del día, Maritza cree que está viviendo el sueño americano, y que todas las personas pueden hacerlo.

 

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Kenitra “Keni” Dominguez was determined to expand Red Bay Coffee’s employee benefits when she became the sustainable coffee company’s Director of People and Culture in early 2018.

“Finding good employee benefits takes time, dedication and resources, and before I came to Red Bay, there was no one serving in a dedicated HR or people operations capacity, so I was essentially starting from scratch,” she said.

Red Bay Coffee in Oakland, Calif., was founded in 2014 by artist Keba Konte with the intent of creating a global community through ethically and sustainably sourced coffee. At Red Bay, the focus is on creating opportunities for the local community by sourcing from a diverse network of farmers and co-ops. Red Bay is also committed to hiring and serving people from all backgrounds, with a focus on those who have been historically left out of the specialty coffee industry like people of color, people with disabilities, women and those who have been formerly incarcerated.

Keni strongly believes in Red Bay’s mission of inclusion and equity and realized that one of the best ways to embody the mission was to help employees access affordable healthcare coverage and a retirement savings program, which they may have otherwise had difficulty obtaining. She also knew that facilitating these benefits would create more loyalty among their employees, and show that we care about them and value their well-being.

“I am currently a team of one, so I have to be really careful about how we utilize our resources,” Keni said. “A lot of typical 401(k) programs can be really expensive for employers and the administrative setup and maintenance is time-consuming.”

Keni was already familiar with Small Business Majority before she worked at Red Bay, so she decided to connect with us to learn more about CalSavers, which is California’s state-sponsored workplace retirement savings program that enables small business employees to make an automatic payroll contribution into a personal retirement account in a secure, easy and reliable way. After reaching out to Small Business Majority about the program, Northern California Outreach Manager Bianca Blomquist introduced Keni to the CalSavers Outreach Team.

CalSavers was a perfect fit for the Red Bay Team, so Keni enrolled them in the initial pilot program, which officially began in January 2019. Over the past few months, Keni has been most impressed with the customer service experience and dedicated support. Keni was particularly inspired by the Outreach Team at CalSavers, including Jonathan Herrera, who traveled from Sacramento to Oakland to meet some of Red Bay’s employees and see where they make their coffee.

“To know someone cared enough to get on a train and come to our roastery shows genuine dedication,” she said. “I am highly impressed with the Outreach Team and their level of commitment and depth of service.”

But even for small businesses that don’t connect directly with the program’s Outreach Team, CalSavers is easy to use and understand.

“Knowing that my team is in safe hands puts my mind at ease,” Keni said. “I would undoubtedly encourage other small businesses to consider CalSavers.”

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Small Business Majority’s Outreach Team advocates for entrepreneurs on two fronts: It supports policies that would benefit small firms, and it offers workshops and events that help small business owners grow their companies. Over the coming months, we’ll be sitting down with members of our Outreach Team to provide an introduction and let small business owners know how our team members can assist them.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting Geri Aglipay, who holds a dual role as our National Women's Entrepreneurship Manager and Midwest Outreach Manager based in Chicago.

Q: Could you tell us what your position at Small Business Majority entails?

A: I conduct education and policy for Illinois and the surrounding greater Chicagoland area, which includes Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Northwest Indiana. I am especially focused on supporting women and business owners of color through our national Women’s Entrepreneurship Program.  

Q: What first attracted you to small business advocacy?

A: I’ve always been involved in policy and national initiatives, so what attracted me to Small Business Majority was the chance to be a change maker and influencer of what constitutes stronger economic activity. I also love that I have the ability to work directly with entrepreneurs to help them understand how to grow and sustain their business. On the flip side, I also get to translate what policies mean for them and why it’s important for them to be involved.

Q: What does your role as National Women’s Entrepreneurship Manager entail?

A: My job is to evaluate our education for women entrepreneurs and ensure it meets the needs of the women we serve. I look at what it takes to prepare a woman to overcome the challenges of starting and running a business based on the economic and political climate. The challenges women face are more unique when you consider many of them are already working a full-time job when they are trying to start a business. And they are often not just the providers for their families, but also the caregivers, so women have different needs when running a business.

Q: What obstacles do women entrepreneurs face that their male counterparts might not?

A: In general, communities of color tend to avoid talking about financial capacity and wealth. Women are disproportionately more impacted by this than men, so you see, it’s even more challenging for women of color who may not have been introduced to tools that are fundamental to starting a business.

Q: Besides your national work, what do you do to support female small businesses in the Chicago area?

A: In Chicago, we’ve started a series called “Be Your Own Boss,” or BYOB, and it’s a series of interactive roundtable discussions for women entrepreneurs. One goal of these discussions is to educate women on issues they may lack knowledge of, such as navigating accessing capital, credit building, wealth building and understanding retirements savings. But, we also engage women on how they feel about different policies that relate to the topic on hand. These roundtables give an opportunity to afford women something they often don’t have time for but highly value, and that’s connections for peer mentoring.

Q: What have you learned as an outreach manager you wish you could tell all small business owners?

A: I’m going to tell you something that a business owner told me the other day. Even though he is now a very successful business owner, he said, “I wish I had met you four years ago.”

I can’t underscore enough the importance of our education on accessing responsible capital. What so many of our partners value is that we are unbiased and we have connections to many nonprofit and community lenders, as well as relationships with business service organizations that offer no and low-cost counseling and training. I wish that more small business owners learned access to capital before anything else. It’s better to know what to look for before you need the money than when it’s too late.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your next year at Small Business Majority?

A: I hope to use this new era in which people are re-examining the role and status of women to get women engaged on issues that have wide-reaching effects on our economy. If we have more women-friendly policies like access to family leave and affordable healthcare, women entrepreneurs will thrive, which, considering women’s purchasing and buying power, helps to grow community prosperity for all.  

If you are a small business owner who is interested in engaging with Geri and Small Business Majority on women’s entrepreneurship issues, you can fill out our spokesperson form here.

 

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

To kick off Women’s History Month in March, Small Business Majority recently hosted a Twitter chat, “Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs” to share tips and resources for women entrepreneurs from business organizations and entrepreneurs around the country. Many of our wonderful partner organizations participated, included the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), SBDC East Los Angeles, Washington D.C. SBDC, the Women’s Business Development Center in Chicago, SBA’s Nebraska District Office and more. Our National Women’s Entrepreneurship Manager, Geri Aglipay, also participated to highlight some of the great resources offered by Small Business Majority’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and our educational portal, Venturize.

Below is a brief recap of the questions and a sample of the great tips and information shared during the chat:

Q1: Why is it important to support women entrepreneurs?

CAMEO‏ @CAMEOMicro 

A1: Four out of every 10 businesses (40%) in the United States are now women-owned. These businesses employ 8% of the total private sector workforce and contribute 4.3% of total revenues: https://buff.ly/2TrcnJp  #WomenInBizChat

WBDC‏ @WBDC 

A1: By supporting women entrepreneurs we strengthen the impact of women on the economy by creating jobs, fueling economic growth, and building strong communities. #WomenInBizChat #WBDC #WomensHistoryMonth

Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation‏ @fresnoahf 

A1. In addition to being the fastest growing segment, women-owned businesses' revenue makes up a significantly low percentage (approximately 4%) of total small business revenues. Supporting women-owned businesses means supporting sustainable and healthy families #WomenInBizChat

Q2: How can we close the funding gap for women entrepreneurs?

Venturize‏ @VenturizeOrg 

A2: By connecting #WomenEntrepreneurs to the support and resources they need to succeed! Check out our blog on closing the funding gap for women #smallbiz owners for a list of tips and tools: http://ow.ly/v9wi30nVJOz  #WomenInBizChat

Washington DC WBC‏ @TheDCWBC 

Educate lenders around discriminatory practices as it relates to race & gender. Encourage lenders to develop special financing programs & implement best practices that provide support to WOSBs. #WomenInBizChat @NCRC

Q3: What advice do you have for a female entrepreneur seeking debt-based capital?

SBA Nebraska‏ @SBA_Nebraska 

A3a: Make sure your numbers are solid and that you can speak to them! Here's a worksheet from @SBAgov to help: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2018-01/Worksheet_Financing_Options.pdf … #WomenInBizChat

A3b: Also, never give up. We've worked with many women #entrepreneurs who went to multiple banks before obtaining the loan. To quote the awesome young female entrepreneur @GaBBYBows: "NO just means Next Opportunity!" #WomenInBizChat

IllinoisSBDC‏ @IllinoisSBDC

A3: Women need to be careful where they obtain funding from, not all money is good money. Don’t accept the first loan offered to you or the first set of terms for that loan. Work with a business resource program to review your business plan and financials. #WomenInBizChat

Q4: How can entrepreneurship build wealth and financial security for women?

Geri SAglipay‏ @RandomIntention

A4: Entrepreneurship is a vehicle to empowerment. When women start their own businesses, they are taking control of their finances and future. Check out this blog from @VenturizeOrg to learn how you can start building wealth today: http://ow.ly/4PZs30nUKgQ  #WomenInBizChat

Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation‏ @fresnoahf 

A4: Entrepreneurship is a means towards economic self-sufficiency that results in not only providing stability for their families but also provide sustainable jobs in local economies #WomenInBizChat

Q5: What are some benefits of having a mentor for female entrepreneurs?

WBDC‏ @WBDC 

A5: Having a mentor allows women entrepreneurs to achieve their goals faster, with fewer mistakes. A mentor lends their own knowledge and expertise to make your journey an easier one. #WomenInBizChat #WBDC #mentorsmatter

Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation‏ @fresnoahf 

A5: Having a mentor allows women entrepreneurs to not only share best practices and learn from other women but also provides access to resources, networking, and opportunities for business growth #WomenInBizChat

Q6: What’s important to know when seeking women-owned business certifications?

Washington DC WBC‏ @TheDCWBC 

A6 The benefits of WOSB certifications depend upon assessing your strategic plan & target markets. Also be ready to utilize the benefits of being a WOSB during your capture management. #WomenInBizChat

WBDC‏ @WBDC

A6: Certification matters if it matters to your customers. Certifications may open the door, but you have to be able provide the value. Major corporations look for the #WBENC #WBE certification. However, certification requirements depending on the industry. #WomenInBizChat

Q7: What are some no-cost or low-cost resources for women entrepreneurs?

CAMEO‏ @CAMEOMicro 

A7: Many Women’s Business Centers offer free training, guidance, and mentorship for women entrepreneurs: https://buff.ly/2BJfGkZ  #WomenInBizChat

SBA Nebraska‏ @SBA_Nebraska

A7 You can find tons of free local resources at http://sba.gov/local-assistance …! @SCOREMentors @AWBC_USA @vetbiz @a_ptac @ASBDC @cfra - just to name a few!! #WomenInBizChat

 

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Small business owner Natalie Dubose recounts the night of Nov. 24, 2014, like a scene out of the movie “Independence Day.”

“Every shop in downtown Ferguson leading up to mine and past mine was destroyed. I found furniture from the law firm across the street, that the protestors had used to break the windows,” she said.

Less than one year after opening Natalie’s Cakes & More in Ferguson, Mo., Natalie found herself having to rebuild her business from scratch after her store was vandalized during a protest following the decision not to charge the police officer who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August of 2014. But, with the help of her community and a handful of benevolent strangers, she has been able to continue selling her signature cakes and in turn, support young people in Ferguson.

After the protests, Kristine Froeba, a journalism student and New Orleans native, saw Natalie on the local news and decided to do whatever she could to help the struggling single mom. The young woman visited Natalie’s bakery and offered to help her set up a crowdfunding page. That page eventually raised $250,000, which was enough money to rebuild the bakery and assist other damaged businesses in the area. Kristine and Natalie have remained good friends to this day.

Despite the remarkable challenges she faced, Natalie remains upbeat. She credits her many years as a single mom with giving her the will and the skills she needs to carry on running her small business.

“Any single parent could be a business owner because single parents learn how to juggle naturally,” she said. “It’s important that my kids see that mom doesn’t just own a business, she is dedicated to this business. This is how we eat and this is how we breathe,” she explains.

Natalie’s business is clearly about much more than earning a living. The bakery also gives her an opportunity to bond with her teenage daughter. In fact, the 16-year-old also has a passion for baking and discovered a talent for cake decorating too. It is fitting that Natalie and her daughter work side by side in the bakery since Natalie gained her own love for baking from her father while growing up in Walnut Park, St. Louis. Her father owned a barber shop and always baked in his spare time.

“He would never give me his recipes, and he never measured anything, so I would sit and take notes as I watched him make his cakes,” Natalie reminisced.

However, Natalie’s true passion has little to do with cakes. In fact, it is important to Natalie that she shows local children that there is no single version of success. As a result, she is in demand as a motivational speaker at local high schools and colleges where she hopes to inspire young people to follow their passions.

Natalie was also recently selected to participate in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program through Babson College where she hopes to learn how to access funding, so she can start offering cake decorating classes for the youth in her community to motivate them to explore their creative talents.

Natalie says about juggling being a mom, business owner and community activist supporting young people, “Youth are our future, and you make time for the things you want to make time for.”

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