To celebrate the successful completion of its first year, the Women's Business Center of California (WBCC) is holding its first Women's Business to Business Expo, Tuesday, Nov. 9 at the National University Spectrum Academic Center in Kearny Mesa.
Over 60 women entrepreneurs and sponsors will showcase their products and services at the Expo. The event will provide exhibitors and attendees valuable networking opportunities with other women entrepreneurs and the San Diego business community.
Financial commentator George Chamberlin will keynote the event. Chamberlin is well-known to the San Diego business community for his columns in The Daily Transcript/San Diego Source and his television and radio shows.
The Expo sold out its inventory of exhibit space almost two months ahead of time and promises to be a very exciting event that will become an annual effort for the WBCC.
The WBCC opened its doors in October of 2003 with a gala ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by SBA staff and an enthusiastic group of women entrepreneurs. The next several months were busy ones as Carolyn Morrow, the center's founding director, began to develop programs and outreach efforts to San Diego entrepreneurs.
Each month brought new milestones. Elaine Bradbury joined the team in January of 2004 as the administrator. In February, the center started sponsoring a series of well-attended educational seminars on topics ranging from business basics to women's health.
The first executive board of directors met in April. Two successful forums with industry panelists talking about how to finance a business and how to certify a business for government and large contractors drew large crowds. The newly formed advisory board made up of corporate sponsors and women entrepreneurs met for the first time in September.
In the course of the first year, the center counseled over 600 entrepreneurs and added over 2,000 contacts to its database. The center helped a number of women start businesses from scratch and to expand businesses to the next level. Assistance rendered included review of business plans, marketing plans and access to funding.
The WBCC was started with a $750,000 cooperative partnership grant from the Small Business Administration that requires the center to raise matching funds over the five-year term of the grant. Thanks to the outstanding generosity of sponsors like National University, The Daily Transcript/San Diego Source, Union Bank of California, Sempra Energy, Metropolitan Water Authority, San Diego County Water Authority and a number of women entrepreneurs, the WBCC made its match for year one.
A recent grant from the city of San Diego's Small Business Enhancement Program for $19,975 will fund an entrepreneurial education program specifically designed for homeless and battered women in 2005.
Other new programs launching in 2005 will include in-depth classes that will lead to certification in business basics, financial planning and technology; roundtables; master classes and more access to capital.
Recent interviews with WBCC clients and supporters provide a glimpse of how these women became entrepreneurs and what they have learned in the process. Each person found the WBCC in different ways and all are enthusiastic about the center's contributions to their businesses.
Preschool Peace Patrol
Adelaide Zindler's passion is to "make good kids great." Her dedication to this mission developed out of her own less than optimal childhood, and her desire to spare other children those experiences.
Her unique ability to see the world through a child's eyes, and her background as a pediatric educator for mothers and babies with drug dependencies led her to start Preschool Peace Patrol.
Through Preschool Peace Patrol, she provides a non-clinical, non-chemical solution to parents and educators for children with emotional and behavioral issues.
She works as a facilitator with parents and children to find the root cause of the child's "frizzamyer," a word she coined to describe the peculiar behavior used by gifted children in communicating a unique need.
However, while Zindler had years of experience working with children and parents, her business skills were not as well-honed, and her new business venture was not expanding the way she had expected.
She brought her concerns to the Women's Business Center of California soon after it opened and asked for help. Zindler credits Carolyn Morrow with turning her business operation around and getting her on the right track.
"Carolyn helped me think like an entrepreneur, and helped me figure out who could provide referrals for my business," she said.
Now almost a year later, Zindler's business is thriving with a constant flow of referrals from psychiatrists and educators who have found that her pediatric life coaching really makes a difference. When asked what advice she would give to entrepreneurs, she responded, "Call the WBCC and get some guidance. It makes all the difference."
Lana's Bake Shop
Baking bread and pastry is the most important thing in Lana Golubchik's life. She was a baker in her native Ukraine.
Shortly after immigrating to Minneapolis, Minn., she enrolled in the Dunwoody Institute to learn Baking Production and Management Technology.
Today she still chuckles about her struggles to learn English at the same time. She spent 15 years in Minneapolis working at first in restaurants, then starting her own bakery and catering business.
She has been working since her move to San Diego to open another business and recently her new bakery -- Lana's Bake Shop -- opened in the Promenade Shopping Center in Pacific Beach.
The new venture features unique family recipes for breads, pastries and cakes with an American flair.
The bakery opens each day at 6 a.m. to serve a light breakfast to the early risers in the neighborhood. Sandwiches and soup are available for the lunch crowd. Golubchik also caters weddings and parties working with clients to design the event, create the menus, provide the food and do the cleanup.
The San Diego SBA office referred Golubchik to the Women's Business Center of California when she needed advice about her financing. With the center's assistance she was able to put together the financing she needed to purchase an existing restaurant and convert it to her needs. "The WBCC helped me work through the process and make the bakery a reality for my family," Golubchik said.
Golubchik has been an entrepreneur for many years and she advises other women starting a business to, "Just keep going, even when it's hard. It's worth it."
Michelle Baker and Sabrina Cerretani
Baker & Cerretani LLP
Michelle Baker and Sabrina Cerretani worked together at a local law firm and became friends when they discovered they shared a common interest in business law. In 2002, they decided to combine their talents and form their own firm, Baker & Cerretani.
Two years later they have an office in University Town Center and a thriving practice serving a variety of corporate clients. Cerretani specializes in labor law while Baker does more general business law.
Together they bring a depth of legal experience centered around business to their clients. Their practice is the right size for hands-on involvement with their clients, and their clients have come to rely on the firm for expert advice about a variety of business topics.
Baker and Cerretani found out about the Women's Business Center of California when they read an article about the grand opening in The Daily Transcript.
They volunteered their services to help entrepreneurs with legal issues and have become supporters of the center. As entrepreneurs themselves they know how difficult it is to start a business and what issues startups and expanding businesses face.
Their advice to anyone starting a business is to "have a plan, talk to legal counsel and actively seek out industry experts."
Baker and Cerretani both felt that their own business benefited immensely from their membership is the various legal associations in San Diego.
"There's really no need to reinvent the wheel, talk to your peers about the issues they faced when they started their businesses and learn from them," Baker said.
Tess Brown is a self-taught chef with a life-long love of cooking in general and Asian food in particular. She relocated to San Diego from New York where she worked as a restaurant manager and owned an event-planning and catering business.
In January, she started Planet Food to do private and corporate catering as a way of breaking into the San Diego market. She hopes once she has built a clientele to open a restaurant. She currently has a permanent staff of three and calls on other staff as needed.
Her specialty is providing hot buffets for training sessions and seminars. One of her clients runs tax compliance classes and no doubt the attendees are thankful for the warm lunch that Brown provides.
She has also provided hot lunches for San Diego's High Tech High School when it holds training seminars for out-of-state teachers.
Brown likes a challenge and her new business is thriving. Her advice to entrepreneurs is to find a job in their chosen industry or at least an internship.
"Do research by working in the type of business you want to start," she said. "It's the best way to find out what you need to know."
She attends seminars at the Women's Business Center of California so that she can learn more about running her business.
Lanning and Owens
Alicia Owens wants more than anything else to see her clients succeed and she has the background to make that happen. She is a CPA and a registered representative of the Principal Financial Group, a financial product and insurance company.
Owens has been helping small- and medium-sized businesses succeed since 1985 and started her firm in 1992. A long-time member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) -- she's the incoming president of the San Diego chapter -- she found out about the Women's Business Center of California through that group's involvement with the group.
Since Owens has a lot of experience with startups and new businesses, she volunteered to teach the basic accounting seminars given by the WBCC. Her classes are about basic business fundamentals. She wants to make sure that new businesses start on the right foot and put in place the basic accounting processes they need. According to Owens these don't need to be complicated, and she shows her students basic tools that they can use immediately to track their financial performance.
In 2005, Owens will manage the Accounting Basics certification program for the WBCC. This four-week course, to be held in May, will offer instruction about financial fundamentals, a QuickBooks overview, a review of IRS rules and how to plan and make projections.
Shazia Jabeen knew she wanted to start her own business and stop working in the corporate world -- she just didn't know what kind of business to start.
Because she loves the teas of her native Pakistan her first thought was to start a small café selling tea and sandwiches. She found the Women's Business Center of California (WBCC) in the process of doing her research and came in to talk about her project. The WBCC acted as a sounding board for her ideas and a reality check as her research progressed.
Jabeen found quickly that her café idea was not realistic. She had no previous experience in the restaurant business and that made landlords reluctant to lease space to her and made fund-raising difficult.
However, she did not want to give up the idea of owning her own business so she shifted gears and began researching opening a small retail shop.
Happily, Jabeen's husband was thinking along the same lines and suggested that she open a shop selling quality holistic products. He had been studying Ayurveda, an eastern holistic wisdom and felt there would be a market for Ayurvedic herbs, bath and body oils, meditation tools and information. Jabeen could also sell her imported and custom teas, and they could sell clothes and jewelry.
Working on this plan, Jabeen leased a small retail space facing the street in La Jolla and opened for business this fall. The new shop offers teas, holistic health products, colorful imported clothes, jewelry and information about Ayurveda.
Jabeen is learning the joys and pitfalls of owning her own business up close and personal. Her advice to entrepreneurs reflects her path to business ownership.
"Be flexible, have realistic expectations, do your research and plan for unexpected expenses and directions," Jabeen said.
Center for Strategic Management
Cheryl McTear is committed to helping companies develop the optimum strategy needed to ensure success. That commitment led her to join the Center for Strategic Management, a virtual consulting firm, seven months ago in order to lead their financial services practice. The Center for Strategic Management brings together leading experts to do strategic planning, change management, human resources and leadership consulting for its clients.
McTear's background and experience includes 25 years as a senior executive in the financial industry. She was CEO of a local credit union and an investment/insurance company. She also has turned three companies around and made them successful.
Currently her client list includes an accounting firm, a sporting goods company and several nonprofits. She is also teaching strategic planning at San Diego State University.
She is a graduate of National University and learned about the Women's Business Center of California (WBCC) through its alumni office.
After meeting with Carolyn Morrow, she quickly offered her services to help the WBCC in any way she could, and she has become an enthusiastic supporter. She is a member of the WBCC Advisory Board and is helping to organize its efforts for fundraising and outreach.
When asked about what her advice she would give to entrepreneurs, McTear offered, "Don't -- unless you have the passion, energy to endure and proof there are enough buyers to meet your financial dreams."
Jan Forest started her business in 1992 with one machine that could enlarge page-sized images to poster size. Early on, it could only be done in black and white, but there was a market for the oversized images and Fast Posters has thrived ever since.
Today the business is digitized and includes machines that can make full color prints up to 42 inches wide that can be laminated and mounted in a variety of ways.
Fast Posters' signs are used at seminars, weddings, for golf tournaments and just about anywhere else oversized images are helpful. It is a family company with Forest's son and husband working with her.
Forest has made the business successful by providing exceptional customer service and developing relationships with her clients. She believes that emphasis on keeping the customer happy has kept her a step ahead of her competition and made her a profitable business.
Forest found the Women's Business Center of California (WBCC) when the WBCC brought her a job. She has attended some of the seminars and events in order to enhance her business skills so that she can expand her company.
Her advice to entrepreneurs, "Stick to what you do best and hire someone else to do the rest."
She admits that she has not always taken her own advice, but tries to follow it when she can. "You can't do it all well," Forest added.
Wild Rose Writing
Writing is what Leslie Carter does best and she felt she could write better as her own boss, so she started Wild Rose Writing. She works with San Diego small businesses to promote their goals and help their businesses succeed. She writes news releases, executive profiles, speeches, copy for brochures and Web sites, marketing letters and more for her clients.
Her specialty is profiles of people, a skill she learned while working on a weekly newspaper in New Jersey. She finds writing exhilarating because she can take a blank sheet of paper and create something that never existed before.
She credits networking as an important part of her business success. She works with her "Power Partners," members of the Golden Triangle LeTip Media Group to find new clients and complete projects.
Carter found the Women's Business Center of California (WBCC) though another networking group, San Diego Women Inc., a group that has its roots in the San Diego SBA. She is enthusiastic about the WBCC's education programs and networking opportunities.
"The WBCC allows me to connect with other women who also believe in themselves," she said. "I enjoy putting my talents at their disposal. The seminars teach me things that I don't know and often don't realize that I should know."
Her advice to entrepreneurs is "be persistent."
"I don't always follow the right path," she added. "In fact some of my choices lead me right into brick walls, but I pick myself up and start again."
Tanaka Graphic Design
Kyoko Tanaka has 20 years of graphic design experience much of it gained working in design studios and advertising agencies in Boston and New York.
Over the years she has developed a simple powerful design style that communicates marketing messages successfully. Her designs create a strong first impression and help companies establish a consistent branding effort.
She started Tanaka Graphic Design about a year ago so that she could use her skills to help San Diego companies. She particularly wants to work with businesses whose product or service makes a difference in the community.
Currently her client list includes several non-profits and biotech firms. She does brochures, marketing plans and also does Web site design.
Tanaka received an e-mail about the opening of the Women's Business Center of California last year and soon became a client. She credits the WBCC with helping her to refine her business ideas, and she finds the networking useful. She has attended many of the educational programs as well to learn more about how to manage her business.
When asked about what advice she would offer other new entrepreneurs, Tanaka said, "Clarify your passion and make sure you know what you want to do."