CLIENT: Business Inquiry Solutions
SBDC: Small Business Development Center Hosted by El Camino College
Kathleen Taylor was at a turning point. After years of working in scientific research, public health and community science education, she was laid off from her job. Two weeks later, her mother passed away. “I was looking for clarity and trying to figure out what I’d love to do every day, because life is so short,” says Taylor. In April 2010, she enrolled in a 10-week business boot camp program at the Small Business Development Center Hosted by El Camino College.
The intensive program taught Taylor how to evaluate her strengths, assess an idea’s viability, develop a business plan and launch her business, which provides interactive training to enhance communication in the workplace.
- Lay the foundation for success. “Each class in the business boot camp helps you create a portion of your business plan,” Taylor explains. The intensive reading, homework assignments and research paid off. “The SBDC provides you with realistic expectations about what it is to be a business owner,” says Taylor.
- Do a reality check. “[The SBDC] takes you through the steps to find out if this is a valid product or service, if it is worth your time and equity, and if there is a target market,” says Taylor. “If this isn’t the right business for you, they bring you to that conclusion with valid reasons so you’re not wasting your time and resources.”
- Be ready to change course. Taylor had planned to target child-care programs in L.A. County as clients—until massive budget cuts eliminated professional development training from these organizations’ budgets. “Suddenly my target market was gone, but as a result of the SBDC’s business model, I regrouped and identified other markets, such as community colleges, small businesses and nonprofits.”
- Don’t be shy. “I was very aggressive about applying [the SBDC’s] recommendations,” Taylor recalls. “I followed the marketing strategies I identified in the program and started cold-calling.” Midway through the bootcamp, Taylor already had her first client lined up.
Since launching Business Inquiry Solutions in May 2010, Taylor’s sales have increased by 10 percent annually. Clients have included the City of Long Beach, the Torrance Chamber of Commerce, and several child-care agencies. One of her most rewarding jobs was providing professional development training to the staff at El Camino College. “It was great to come full circle,” she says.
In August 2012 Taylor used the model she learned in business boot camp to open a second business, Cadence Voice Over Services, that records and produces voiceovers. In 2013, the SBDC asked her to return to business boot camp as an instructor. She’s now teaching workshops on small business development and business plan writing.
“If you’re looking for a program that cares about you and the success of your business, is cost-effective and provides quality services,” says Taylor, “the SBDC is your one-stop shop.”