Like many entrepreneurs, you may have learned a skill or trade, but lack the business acumen to launch it or expand it successfully. Years ago, I stumbled upon the non-profit agency while looking for business resources for a regional Web site for which I was writing Web content. I thought I had a great idea when I developed IEunderground.com: create a Web resource for people to connect with others with similar interests and find things to do. Once on Google’s first page results for “Inland Empire things to do,” I lacked the marketing resources it needed to get the word out. It didn’t make enough money to make it worthwhile.
Like most entrepreneurs, we don’t give up. I had a new idea but lacked the start-up funds. Then, an email came across my desk by the Inland Empire Women’s Business Center (IEWBC): an invitation to apply for their It’s Your Turn program (offered two times per year). If accepted, program attendees get free access to in-field professionals and the center’s classes/seminars…and, more importantly, the chance to win a cash prize (a.k.a. start-up funds!).
Although I didn’t win (the woman who did, absolutely deserved to win), I had the fortunate experience of going through the program and, now, share my experience with all of you. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration. The difference between classes taken for the degree in a university setting and the classes provided by the IEWBC is that the latter provides real-world perspectives and applications. IEWBC offers great classes to help small business owners (both women and men) learn the opportunities and the skills to start or expand their businesses. Classes are available to the general public for nominal fees. For example, Maximum Impact! 5-Part Business Plan Writing Series takes you through building a business plan in five weeks for $100—total ($80 if you register for the series online)!
Not only do you get a great spreadsheet for projecting income and free access to valuable industry reports, you learn what lenders look for in business plans for funding. The classes are generally taught by small-business owners looking for business leads, staff, and by California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) MBA students. The center is a joint effort by CSUSB and the Small Business Administration. The next It’s Your Turn program is planned for some time in September. If you are looking to expand your business, the center is accepting application through August 17th for the Small Business Expansion Program. While enrolled in either of these programs, all the classes are free! I recommend checking the center out.
Sample of Classes
· ABC’s of Starting Your Own Business
· Website Development Webinar
· How to Qualify for a Business Loan
· E-Marketing: It’s more than Facebook
· Women-Owned Business Certification
· Legal Forms of Organizations
· eCommerce Webinar
· E-Procurement Webinar