Magazine article Black Enterprise

A Tough Act to Copy: Susan Reese Beats the Odds to Start Her Own Reprographics Business

Magazine article Black Enterprise

A Tough Act to Copy: Susan Reese Beats the Odds to Start Her Own Reprographics Business

Article excerpt

Like many self-starters, Susan Reese doesn't put much stock in the word "can't." As owner and president of Los Angeles-based Paper Trail Litigation Copy Service, she has successfully become the only local African American female contender in the niche market of legal reprographics.

But getting there was no easy task, especially for a woman. At age 15 , she had her daughter, Monique, and was forced to go on welfare. Although she went on to wage an uphill battle with bad credit in subsequent years, she refused to continue living on handouts. "Removing my name from the welfare rolls was one of my most gratifying experiences," says the 38-year-old.

For several months, Reese worked as a temp for various companies. In 1991, with no college degree or assets to fall back on, she left her job and took the entrepreneurial plunge. "I had everything to gain by starting my business right away," says Reese, who contends that many aspiring entrepreneurs suffer from "ideal-time" procrastination.

With a $40,000 investment from a cousin, Reese set up a children's clothing company. Within months, it went bust due to lack of planning, finances and incentive. Shaken but unwilling to accept defeat, Reese regrouped and searched for new ideas.

This time, after eyeing the success of retail reprographic outlets such as Kinko's, she did extensive online and library research. She discovered that the niche market of legal reprographics was a highly specialized, $90 billion business that caters to the high-volume copying needs of attorneys and paralegals.

She wrote a business plan in eight months and secured $15,000 in startup capital from her sister, Margaret Floyd. …

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