On January 16, the Center For Women’s Entrepreneurship hosted their Small Business Basics workshop in the Mellon Board Room. Entrepreneurs filled the seats, eager to learn about the ins and outs of starting a business.
The workshop began with an introduction from Anne Flynn Schlicht, the Assistant Director of the Center For Women’s Entrepreneurship who gave a brief overview of the day’s agenda, pointing out the various professional speakers and and better business workshops on the schedule.
The first of these speakers was Joyce Pearl, a counselor from the Pittsburgh chapter of SCORE.
SCORE is a counseling service for entrepreneurs through which individuals are paired up with mentors in their industry. SCORE also hosts workshops, including topics like, “How to Grow Your Business with Social Media” and “Building a Winning Business.”
The workshops also highlighted another resource for small business owner—the Small Business Association or SBA. Headquartered in Washington D.C., the SBA has 68 district offices, and offers services to small businesses including counseling and financial assistance with low interest loans.
A crowd favorite was the visit by local entrepreneur, Jennifer Mrzlack. Mrzlack is one of the founders of the organic food company Naturi. She shared the ups and downs of starting her business, and advised new entrepreneurs to see their business as more than the product.
“The trick is to sell the story,” says Mrzlack. “It’s more than a yogurt company.”
Financial advisors from Kiva and Bridgeway Capital made presentations on how to finance a business. Kiva is a non-profit lender that provides entrepreneurs with access to loans with no interest. The loans are crowdfunded by lenders around the world. Bridgeway Capital is an unconventional lending source for small businesses.
“I used to work at a bank and our job was to sell loans,” said Business Education Director, Aaron S. Aldrich. “Here at Bridgeway Capital my focus is to help small businesses be successful.”
Other business advisers spoke including Tracy Zihmer, a business lawyer from The Lynch Law Group. The focus of her presentation was how to choose a business structure. Zihmer discussed common entities of structure, such as sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnerships, Limited Liabilities Company (LLC), and corporation. In addition, Pamela Falkner, the Director of Business Development for Bookminders, provided tips on bookkeeping.
“When it comes to good bookkeeping practices remember RECORD. Reporting requirements, Establish the financial tool, Chart of accounts, Organized, Reevaluate, Determine if you need help. For bookkeeping, remember to keep it SIMPLE. Separate, Information gathering, accounting Method, Professionals, Look Evaluate,” said Falkner.
The day concluded with the Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship, Rebecca Harris. Harris advised entrepreneurs that, “a business cannot be a hobby,” and to know what niche their product serves.
“For a business to be successful, a business must have the right product, at the right place, at the right time, at the right price,” Harris said.
The Center For Women’s Entrepreneurship will be hosting more events throughout the semester. For more information about the center visit the second floor of Braun Hall or visit their website at chatham.edu/cwe.