Small Biz Toolkit for Budding Women Entrepreneurs: From Seed Money to Mentoring Programs, Here's a Resource Guide for New Enterprises
McCrea, Bridget, Black Enterprise
JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE STARTING YOUR OWN business doesn't mean you have to go it alone. Through SCORE, one-on-one mentoring is available free of charge from men and women who have had successful careers as corporate executives or business owners. Affiliated with the Small Business Administration, SCORE (www.score.org) is a nonprofit network of 13,000 dedicated mentors that advise new and current business owners about management, operations, and financial and marketing issues. In addition to in-person counseling, SCORE offers free workshops and webinars, including sessions targeting women and minority entrepreneurs.
Dianne Harrison and Cynthia M. Clarke are the founders and owners of Copiosity L.L.C. (copiositygreetings.com), operating out of the nonprofit Pyramid Atlantic Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, where they rent the machinery to produce their products. They went to SCORE for some outside guidance even though their prior experience in marketing, design, and finance had served them well. Harrison and Clarke worked with SCORE mentor Bruce Gitlin, a former CEO of a high-tech firm, to develop the business side of their greeting cards and paper products company. Gitlin guided the founders through the maze of general business operations, says Harrison. "He has advised us about all aspects of financing, investor relations, sales and marketing, human resources, operations, and organizational planning." That guidance also included assignments and deadlines. "Bruce always sends us tons of information about business planning," adds Clarke.
Though formally incorporated in April 2010, the duo launched Copiosity for sales in November 2012 with Whole Foods Market of the Mid Atlantic region. Copiosity offers nine different product lines, including gift wrap and home, school, and office products, which are sold wholesale to local retailers, as well as through online sales and sales to the government, corporations, and nonprofits. Each line in Copiosity fulfills a niche in the market, says Clarke. For example, Harrison and Clarke decided to distribute sympathy cards geared toward children given their limited availability in any other company line.
Finding startup and growth capital, managing economic fluctuations, and learning the ropes of business management can be difficult even for seasoned entrepreneurs. SCORE is just one resource to help women entrepreneurs break through these barriers. Here's a list of other resources you can leverage to start and grow your business.
MANAGEMENT ADVICE & SUPPORT
Black Women Enterprises
(www.blackwomenenterprises.org) offers free services and programs designed to increase a small business owner's bottom line. Services and programs include BWE business plan workshops, MBE/WBE certification technical assistance, an entrepreneurial workshop series, and one-on-one business counseling.
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women