Friday, March 15, 2019

small business ideas for women

small business ideas for women

The What, Who, and How of Business Bootstrapping - Atlanta Small Business Network

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 03:00 AM PDT

A thought that likely entered your mind after you considered the potential of that innovative new business idea was," how am I going to fund this?" Concerns about attracting business funding make absolute sense.

Entrepreneurs have to face the sobering truth that 30 percent of businesses fail in their second year and that one of the main reasons for this is a lack of funding. However, many small business owners are choosing to be more intentional about their expenses and how they secure funding for them. A tactic used by many new entrepreneurs is the practice of bootstrapping.

Bootstrapping is the process of starting a company without outside help or capital. It is the true definition of being a "self-starter." Many successful companies have followed this format, for example:

  • Sara Blakely launched the largely successful and Atlanta-based women's undergarment company, Spanx with $5,000 of her savings. She still owns 100 percent of the company, and had $400 million in sales in 2016.
  • Github founders, Tom Preston-Warner and Chris Wanstrath, started Github with only a few thousand dollars and spent the early days working remotely at coffee shops. In 2015, the company was valued at $2 billion.
  • In 1957, Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, taught himself how to blacksmith at 18 years old and made climbing hardware with used equipment. The company posted $600 million in revenue in 2013.

bootstrappingMany entrepreneurs have grown their companies with their own hard work and funding. While it does require determination and discipline, it comes with the benefit of not having to appeal to the wants of investors or having to pay back funds to a bank. So, how can you make the art of bootstrapping work for you? Take a look at our tips.

Understand the Pros and Cons of Bootstrapping for Your Specific Business Model

Bootstrapping is not a one-size-fits-all approach. While it may work for some business ideas, it may be a disaster for others. Look at all your expenses and realistically project the amount of money, time, and help you will need to get your business going. If you are starting a home-based accounting firm, self-funding your business may be the best option for you. However, if you are planning to launch a high-cost technology firm that requires a brick-and-mortar office, you may need a more detailed funding model that goes further than bootstrapping.

Know that You Will Handle Many Roles

One of the ways that self-starting entrepreneurs save money and make it easier to self-fund their business is to wear all the hats. You will be the marketer, accountant, customer representative, operations professional, and overall face of your company. While this may feel overwhelming, don't shy away from learning a new skill. Not only will this save you money, but it will also make you more aware of what you need when you can hire someone. Take advantage of resources like YouTube and free courses at places like SCORE and General Assembly.

Don't Give up Your Day Job Just Yet and Engage in Crowdfunding

While you may be tempted to give up your full-time job to focus on your business, don't quit just yet. While a full-time or even part-time job can take you away from your business, it can be a significant funding source. While managing your time may be challenging, with proper planning and preparation, your job can help you generate immediate funds. This situation might not be a long-term arrangement, but it can help you continue to self-fund your company in the short-term. You can also add crowdfunding to your funding model. Tools like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can help you connect with audiences that like your product or service and may want to provide funding.

Be Intentional with Your Marketing

You may be tempted to use larger traditional methods for marketing, but bootstrapping requires you to be a bit more creative. Search for low-cost and creative marketing methods and digital applications. For example, instead of hiring a full-scale marketing firm to handle your social media, make time to use free apps like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your own and add Facebook ad spending to your budget. Also, work to make connections with local influencers who can create a buzz regarding your services and offerings.

Work Remotely

bootstrappingInstead of paying a large amount of money to rent an office or join an expensive co-working spot, save money by setting up a home office and working remotely. This situation could also be a selling point for your company when it comes time to hire talent. Having a distributed team allows you to save money on office furniture, equipment, rent, and utilities while putting you in a position to not have to adhere to geographic limitations when hiring talent.

Embrace Bartering

Again, you are going to need a consistent flow of cash at your disposal. One of the ways to preserve this money is by embracing the practice of bartering. For example, if you require professional photos of your product and you offer social media marketing services, see if you can trade with someone who provides the service of photography. Both of you are getting what you want without having to pay a hefty price.

Invest in an Accounting App

This step is crucial for two reasons. It will allow you to keep a close eye on cash flow, while also keeping up with your payables and receivables. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners get into a tight spot because clients fail to pay their debts. An accounting app can help to remind you to reach out regarding invoices and keep track of who has paid. It will also enable you to keep track of suppliers you also need to pay. An accounting app will encourage a consistent (and accurate) flow of cash to handle other business expenses that arise.

Final Thoughts

In a perfect world, everyone would be able to obtain a large-scale investment from a venture capitalist. Unfortunately, there is much competition and not enough funds to go around. So, entrepreneurs can leverage their funds and skills to bootstrap their business. Bootstrapping gives you the freedom to run your business on your terms. It also allows you to fund your business without loans or the input of investors who now have more control. While it can be a challenge to self-start your company, it can pay off in the long-run.

The Atlanta Small Business Network, from start-up to success, we are your go-to resource for small business news, information, resources.

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This has been a JBF Business Media production.

25 best business ideas in Nigeria 2019 -

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 05:40 AM PDT

Business ideas in Nigeria for start-up entrepreneurs do not have to require so much money to get off the ground. Coming up with these ideas should also not be a tedious process. It is enough to use ready-made solutions and just start working in a particular sphere. Today we offer you business ideas with different types of investments.

25 best business ideas in Nigeria

Source: UGC

Millions of people have used their talent, intellect and imagination to make the world as we know it through our business ideas. Analyse your abilities and skills, and find what you like to do. Maybe the next person to change the world is you!

Business ideas in Nigeria

At first, the idea of opening your own business with minimal investment (or even without it) seems unrealistic. However, there are many examples when people managed to achieve stable profit literally from scratch. These people just implemented their original and cost-effective ideas. We offer you options for those who first of all think about the safety of their savings.

1. Holidays agency

An organisation of the agency of holidays

Source: UGC

Organising your agency for celebrations and events is one of the easiest ways to start your own business. People celebrate and will keep celebrating birthdays, corporate parties and weddings despite crises and other disasters. Your task is to help them arrange a holiday. It is possible to specialise exclusively on children's parties as a children's audience is less demanding, and it is easier to satisfy a child than an adult.

A holidays agency offers services and not products that can be touched, so the primary criterion is professionalism. First, you need to hold about 5-10 events at a high level, after which you will be noticed and recommended to other people. The presence of advertising on the Internet and the media will not be useless, but the advantages of a jungle telegraph should not be neglected and underestimated. Satisfied customers will recommend you to each other, and consequently, your business will become more and more popular gradually.

2. Advertising agency as a business for beginners

Business opportunities in Nigeria

Source: UGC

A small advertising agency may consist of 2-3 people and does not require large investments at the initial stage. All you need is creative ideas for advertising and to have basic proficiency in work with computer design at a decent level. To begin with, the office of an advertising agency can be organised at home. It does not matter where you receive and implement applications from clients. All the initial capital that you have can be fully invested in the promotion of your advertising agency. The very first regular orders will recover the expenditures, and even with interest.

It is better not to save money on the means of production such as a computer, scanner, printer as all the equipment should be up-to-date. It is not necessary to create a full-fledged staff. Now, there are a lot of free artists (freelancers) who will design an advertising layout or create a corporate name for a minimal payment.

At the final stage, the main thing is the search for orders. The most profitable advertising industry is creative: creating original ideas, mottoes, logos, layouts, and banners. You can set the prices for your services yourself. The main indicator of success is the steady increase in the cost of the info product you create and the number of its sales over a period, for example, a month.

READ ALSO: Feasibility study example and definition

3. Private cosmetologist (hairdresser, makeup artist)

25 best business ideas in Nigeria 2019 - Makeup artist

Source: UGC

It is not necessary to rent a room and open a SPA-salon with expensive equipment and a lot of employees to provide services of a make-up artist, a hairdresser, and skin, nail and body care specialist.

You can do hairstyle or makeup at home. The main thing is that you know how to provide these services with high quality. Many women prefer to use the services of a home (almost personal) hairdresser, and sometimes the cooperation lasts for years. You can even advertise your services through a social network page. Especially popular is Instagram, so, your first customers will recommend you to your friends and acquaintances.

Having built a customer base, you can have a permanent income without exaggeration throughout life. After all, this service is required at regular intervals to your customers. Working at home as a private beauty master you can provide the following services:

  • haircut and hair colouring;
  • manicure;
  • pedicure;
  • wedding hairstyle and makeup;
  • sale of related products (shampoos, gels, varnishes).

Working as a private master, you can become a full-fledged stylist or open your own beauty studio.

4. Footwear repair shop and key making

Footwear repair shop and key making

Source: UGC

There are shoe repair points in many cities, including small ones. If you are not embarrassed to work with your hands and deal with sticking leather or fixing heels, then you can easily arrange such a point in your location. All you need for this is a room of 5 square meters, a pair of shelving, tools and skills in this type of activity. Also, do not forget to officially register as an individual entrepreneur, not to have problems with the authorities.

The business of repairing shoes and making keys is often combined into one point due to the similarity of working conditions. Not everyone always has enough money for a new pair of shoes. In such circumstances, people would rather spend less on new shoes and prefer to repair old ones, if there is such a possibility. If you can and like to work with your hands and want to be your own boss, then this business is for you.

5. Tutoring

Tutoring business

Source: UGC

Good tutors worth their weight in gold for many students and pupils. This private educational business is suitable for professionals in any field. Especially such services are in demand in the period before entering universities.

How can customers find out about you? You can make advertising in the local newspaper or through the Internet. And the best option is to find clients, communicating directly with pupils or students. For example, the majority of teachers in schools earn tutoring students additionally before graduating from school or vice versa, before entering an educational institution when preparing for entrance exams.

An excellent tutor earns good money in an hour. You can work at home or remotely via Skype. In this case, your client market is unlimited.

6. Making crafts at home (hand-made)

Making crafts at home (hand-made)

Source: UGC

If you know how to make dolls, funny animals, wood products that will be appreciated by children and not only, you can organise a hand-made home-based business and sell your products through a specialised website on the Internet. Hundreds of people are already engaged in this activity and make a profit. Exclusive products have its value and will always be highly appreciated, and if you are passionate to the creation of handicrafts at home, you can earn reasonable money and at the same time teach other people this craft for the money.

7. Opening home web-stud

Opening home web-studio

Source: UGC

The latest Internet technologies will bring a steady income if properly used. Do you have experience in creating websites, Internet applications, or do you know how to promote online resources in search engines competently? If yes, then you should establish your own web-studio.

The demand of the population in creating their own Internet sites is continuously growing. So why not take advantage of this demand? Having opened your web-studio, you will work exclusively for yourself and, moreover, do your favourite work. Starting this home-based business, you can expand the enterprise eventually and become the head of your IT company, and you can hire freelancers or staff members to create websites, online stores and selling pages.

8. An opening of the dining room

25 best business ideas in Nigeria 2019 - Open a dining room

Source: UGC

This business idea is relevant not only in 2019 but at all times. The development of catering establishments will be a great business idea in small towns. The opening of the dining room, where food is served tasty as at home, will help to resolve this issue for the benefit of an owner and customers. It is not necessary to open a large dining room for 50-100 seats at once. Five cosy places will be enough for a start.

The main thing is to keep the brand and cook tasty. This kind of business is called as self-employment. Renting a room and purchasing products will be enough on the first stage. Analysts believe that this segment of the market in small cities is very profitable, especially if you have reliable staff and thoughtful service.

A lot of people always want to eat tasty food at a reasonable price. They do not prefer to go shopping in the hope of a quick bite to eat something edible. Such a business idea will be in demand both in large cities and small towns, where popular catering chains are practically not represented. It will reduce your competition.

9. Creating a revenue site on the Internet

Opportunities in Nigeria

Source: UGC

READ ALSO: People management: meaning, skills and training in Nigeria

It is one of the most profitable and promising business ideas, the relevance of which will only grow in the coming years. Having an own website is an excellent opportunity to get a steady income automatically. If your network resource is popular and well promoted in search engines, then, you can have a stable and very considerable profit merely placing contextual advertising and banners on it. If you are really passionate about information technology, then creating your website (blog) can be both an additional source of income and a major source of income for you. Your site will simultaneously solve several problems for you:

  • Build a personal brand and expert status in a niche;
  • Make your profit regularly like a shop, cafe or other offline business;
  • Motivate you to discover, develop and learn new things;
  • Develop skills in different areas: copywriting, management, marketing, negotiating (when working with advertisers).

10. Homemade baking

Homemade baking

Source: UGC

Today, both in a large metropolis and provincial town, women do not have enough time to bake their favourite sweets such as cakes, pies, homemade cookies. Time and forces are always not enough before the family holiday, especially for making the birthday cake. You can bake all these sweets and sell them. To promote your small, business you can use social media and good recommendations from satisfied clients.

11. Furniture assemblage at home

Furniture assemblage at home

Source: UGC

Providing services for the assemblage of furniture at home do not require huge start-up capital. To start a business, you need to purchase tools (hammer, screwdriver, drill, nails, screwdrivers, glue, etc.) and do self-promotion. Since the assembly of furniture is physically laborious, it is necessary to find a few like-minded people. These can be your acquaintances or friends. You can start this type of business alone or enlist the support of your family.

In essence, any business needs to be developed gradually. There will be its own difficulties and problems, first defeats and confident victories. As it grows, the flow of customers will increase, respectively, you will have to find new employees and a separate office.

12. Vending business

Vending business

Source: UGC

If you are looking for innovative ideas for small businesses, then this is a bright representative. Vending is a business based on special trading devices that allow you to organise sales without a seller. Of course, this type of business is impossible without initial investments, but in the future, they will be more than repaid.

What is required:

  • Equipment;
  • Products;
  • Electric power supply point;
  • The place for installation.

Of course, you need to have the status of the individual entrepreneur, to conclude an installation contract, to resolve the issue of maintenance and possible repairs, if any measures are required. The service includes the following tasks:

  • Filling the apparatus with products;
  • Collection of money;
  • Control of the availability of change and so on.

So you can start selling chips, water, coffee, crackers and more in the very near future.

13. Delivery service

Delivery service

Source: UGC

Courier service is considered an ideal home business. To start one, it is enough to have a mobile phone and a map of the city. You can move by public transport or your car. Customers can be sought both among individuals and corporate clients.

As a rule, the primary source of income is online shopping, which gives the delivery of goods to outsourcing. You can serve a specific territory, which includes the region, city or district. Delivery time is usually limited, so you need to think in advance about the shortest route. In general, excellent knowledge of the town is the primary requirement in this business. Payment for services depends on many factors and can vary.

14. One price sale shop

One price sale shop

Source: UGC

It is about retail. Quite an interesting idea that allows not only to draw attention to the business but also to become rich.

To do this, you need to rent a room, register as an individual entrepreneur, establish contacts with suppliers, purchase equipment, goods and set a fixed price. Here you can play on people's love to save money. You will be able to set a really low price, but sell cheaper goods for it, which will allow you to recoup the investment in the idea.

15. Delivery of ready dinners

Delivery of ready dinners

Source: UGC

If you have culinary skills and are looking for a business idea, then delivery of prepared meals is what you need. There are no difficulties in this because you need to cook regular homemade food. The essence of the business itself will be the preparation of hot food and its quick delivery at the place of order. Such a business pays off quickly and brings substantial profits.

For start-ups, this is an opportunity to enter the fascinating world of business immediately. All you need is disposable appliances, thermoses and products from which you will prepare food for export. To deliver meals, you can use your car or hire a courier service.

16. Soap making

Soap making

Source: UGC

Such a natural product is increasingly conquering the market because, in addition to cleaning the skin, it also helps to solve other issues, such as moisturising, reducing irritation, fighting cellulite, and the like. It is not difficult to learn how to make soap. Special certificates are not required for this business.

17. Psychological services

Psychological services

Source: UGC

Psychologists always say that the root of all problems lies in us; they just need to be found and removed. Clients should be provided with guarantees of complete confidentiality and compliance with ethical standards.

Of course, it is impossible to start such a business without a specialised education. You can finish a course in psychology first. In the future, you can earn an individual or group counselling.

READ ALSO: Spiritual ways of making money in Nigeria

18. Breeding and sale of animals

Breeding and sale of animals

Source: UGC

If you are the owner of a private house and love the fauna, you can start breeding animals for sale. First, you need to decide what kind of animals you will breed namely guinea pigs, dogs, cats, newts, hamsters. The primary criterion is the presence of a market for sale. By the way, pedigreed dogs and cats can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Organising a home nursery as a business is a good idea to start in a small town or even a village.

If you look wider and get the appropriate education and documents, your business can grow into a veterinary clinic and at least you can open a store selling pet food and related products for pets.

19. Photography

Photographer business

Source: UGC

To get started, you need to purchase high-quality equipment and deal with its functions. You can work with semi-professional equipment. The main thing is to take photos from the right perspective and be able to process images in special programs. It is difficult to image major celebrations without the services of a photographer.

The work of photographers needs advertising agencies and print media for the design of magazines and websites. The best advertising services of a photographer will be positive reviews of friends and clients. However, at the initial stage, the purchase of advertising will not be superfluous.

20. Paper tissue business

Paper tissue business

Source: UGC

Convenient and practical disposable towels are used everywhere today. Such products can greatly facilitate life, so those who plan to open their own business should consider the idea of ​​starting the production of paper towels. For a promising start, you need to find a suitable workshop with an area of ​​at least 250 square meters and equip it with specialised equipment. Automated production lines, for the most part, are of Chinese origin.

The cost of the equipment depends on its performance. The production technology is rather primitive. All processes are automated, so a small enterprise can do with a minimum number of employees, but with the expectation that the production can be done around the clock.

21. Filming and editing videos

Filming and editing videos

Source: UGC

People often want to videotape significant events in their lives such as weddings, graduations, birthdays, etc. In order to get started, you need a good camera, a tripod, a computer, and a special editing program. Having trained, you will be able to make quite complex and beautiful videos at home with minimal investments after 2-3 weeks.

22. Water delivery

Water delivery

Source: UGC

In most cities, tap water can be harmful. Service for the delivery of water will help to solve this problem.

23. Tourist agency

Tourist agency

Source: UGC

Planning tours is another business option. You can establish an organisation of excursion and tourist tours both in Nigeria and abroad. It can be cycling, photo tourism, a love journey or fishing tour, travel to famous places, etc.

24. Providing accounting and legal services

Providing accounting and legal services

Source: UGC

The essence of the business in the provision of legal and accounting services to individuals and legal entities. Private counselling should be professional. It does not seem necessary to have an office.

The entire workflow can be organised at home. Primary responsibilities are the following: consulting, remote accounting, preparation of reports, documents, control of the payment of all tax obligations. You can run several companies simultaneously.

25. Commission shop

Commission shop

Source: UGC

Second-Hand clothing is in high demand, and not only in times of crisis. The current income level of the majority of the population is such that it is impossible to buy branded clothes. And then high-quality clothing from a commission shop at stock prices will be the way out but for someone even salvation. This business is quite profitable and relevant; besides, it does not require significant initial investments.

Any business needs to be organised gradually. There will be difficulties and problems, first defeats and confident victories. But then the flow of customers will increase.

Those were the best possible business ideas in Nigeria. In fact, there are much more legendary business ideas that cab chang the world. Perhaps you have an original project that will allow you to make money more productively and simpler than those described in the article. As they say, just do it!

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

READ ALSO: Most successful small business ideas in Nigeria to try in 2019

Minister Ng met with entrepreneurs and small business owners in Oakville, Toronto, London, and Waterloo - Benzinga

Posted: 14 Mar 2019 12:00 PM PDT

Canada's Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion shared how the federal government is helping small business owners start up, scale up, and access new markets

WATERLOO, ON, March 14, 2019 /CNW/ - Small businesses make up 98% of all Canadian businesses and employ 8 million hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They are the backbone of our economy and critical to the middle class.

This week, the Honourable Mary Ng, Canada's Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, was in Oakville, Toronto, London, and Waterloo to meet with entrepreneurs and small business owners.

On March 12, Minister Ng began her day in Oakville with a roundtable discussion with small business owners and members of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce and the Halton Global Business Centre. She then joined Arif Virani, Member of Parliament for Parkdale–High Park, to meet with female entrepreneurs at the Parkdale Centre for Innovation.

On March 13, Minister Ng joined the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, to announce federal research infrastructure funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation's John R. Evans Leaders Fund competition at Western University. They were joined by Kate Young, Member of Parliament for London West and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Science and Sport, and Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre. She continued her day by discussing the government's supports for small businesses at a fireside chat with the London Chamber of Commerce.

On March 14, Minister Ng discussed the government's supports for start-ups and entrepreneurs at a fireside chat, hosted by Communitech. She concluded her trip by announcing a government investment of up to $100,000 in Deep Trekker Inc., through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

When meeting with small business owners, Minister Ng shared the government's many initiatives that are making it easier for small business owners to do business, like:

  • lowering the small business tax rate to 9%, one of the lowest rates in the world;
  • getting credit card companies to lower the fees they charge businesses when their customers use credit cards;
  • providing access to over a billion and a half new customers through trade deals like the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, commonly called the new NAFTA;
  • introducing the Accelerated Investment Incentive that will allow businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy to write off a larger share of the cost of newly acquired assets in the year the investment is made;
  • investing $2 billion to help double the amount of women-owned businesses by 2025; and
  • reducing over 450 federal rules that impose an administrative burden on business.


"This is a small business–friendly government that is working hard to reduce red tape and make it easier for Canadian small business owners to start up, scale up, and access new markets. When small businesses in Oakville, Toronto, London, Waterloo, and communities across the country succeed, our economy grows and middle-class jobs are created."
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

"London's economy is underpinned by small business. We were fortunate to meet with many stakeholders today and listened to their ideas about what more we can do to strengthen the Canadian economy so that our small businesses can keep thriving. Aided by policies introduced by our federal government—including the reduction of the small business tax rate to 9 percent—London's economy is moving in a strong direction, and we will work hard to ensure this continues."
Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre

Associated links

Follow Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada on Twitter: @ISED_CA
Follow @CanadaBusiness on social media for business-related news: Twitter, Facebook


SOURCE Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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Elizabeth Gore Discusses Small Business Event and Entrepreneurship in the North Bay - Sonoma County Gazette

Posted: 13 Mar 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Elizabeth Gore has traveled the world espousing the economic advantages of entrepreneurship. Now, the globetrotting businesswoman from Houston is hosting two upcoming events for entrepreneurs in Sonoma County.

Hello Alice, Gore's latest project, is an electronic "sidekick" that helps guide entrepreneurs through the process of founding and growing a business.

On March 27, Hello Alice will host an event meant to connect local small business owners with the technology, personal connections and small business lessons.

The event, titled the Growth Tour: North Bay, will be held at the Friedman Center, 4676 Mayette Ave,Santa Rosa, between 1pm and 6:30pm.

Registration is free. Any proceeds will benefit the Rebuild Northbay Foundation, a nonprofit meant to help guide North Bay counties through the recovery from the 2017 fires. Gore serves as the President of Rebuild's board of directors.

Photo: Sharon Suh

The second event, a networking event known as the Circular Summit, will bring entrepreneurs from around the world to Sonoma County in May.

Gore's husband,  James Gore, is a Sonoma County supervisor representing the northern county.

On March 5, the Sonoma County Gazette sat down with Elizabeth Gore for an interview about Hello Alice, the company's upcoming events in Sonoma County and the future of the North Bay's economy.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Sonoma County Gazette – Several of your previous job titles have included "entrepreneur-in-residence." Can you tell me how you became interested in entrepreneurship and what your role at United Nations Foundation was?

Elizabeth Gore – I got into entrepreneurship actually through the United Nations, which isn't really a normal track. My job was to work with the most marginalized people in the world. Whether it was representing them in big campaigns or taking reporters and writers into refugee camps to tell the residents' stories.

I just kept seeing that it was small business owners – and in some countries it was very small business owners – who tend to set up commerce and set up business when the UN picks up and leaves or when a disaster gets cleaned up or in a refugee camp. It really is, I think, the most sustainable way to build a strong infrastructure in a society and I just saw it over and over.

I was with the UN for about nine years. In the last few years of that we started to see the power of getting new minds around the UN. So, what I would call "Modern Economy" entrepreneurs. Really high-growth folks from G20 and G30 countries who could give advice and council to the UN particularly with digital transformation happen and social media happening. You know, how do we use the new best tools in a humanitarian environment?

SCG – Can you explain what Hello Alice does?

EG – Our goal is to help four million business owners by 2021 either launch or scale their business.

Alice is built on top of machine learning so she gets smarter every year. Our objective is to lead entrepreneurs – or even pull them – through the path that is unique to them. So, if I am a female founder of a financial technology company and I'm African American and I live in Detroit, what I need is very different than a veteran, white male in San Antonio who's opening a bakery. Whether we're talking about a difference in geography, stage of growth, type of business industry, we're trying to get smarter and smarter about helping people grow their companies.

We made a commitment very early on that we would prioritize what we call the New Majority. Collectively, the next majority of business owners will be women, people of color, people in smaller towns, the LGBT community, U.S. veterans, and military spouses. Really it's the folks who are not as connected as their white male peers.

That said, Hello Alice is open to everyone and we have wonderful white males on our site, but what we wanted to do is ensure that, instead of launching a software and then catching up later with increasing diversity, that we made that commitment up front.

SCG – Do you have any new features you're excited about?

EG - If you think of an area where business owners are being marginalized, we usually step in.

Disaster response is one area. We had no idea we'd be in that arena but we are based in Houston, San Francisco and Sonoma County, so our team went through Hurricane Harvey in Houston and then we went through the fires here and now floods. So we looked back and said, "How can we use our technology to help business owners navigate post-disaster?"

Some businesses might have damaged property or they've lost significant receipts and revenue. How do they navigate the SBA and the FEMA process?

What are other tools in an environment that is frankly really hard to navigate and find. So, we have been diligently mapping the same thing, utilizing AI, how do I find every resource that I can to help my business survive or thrive in a post-disaster environment?

SCG – One of the challenges of operating a small business at a local level can be permits and interacting with city and county agencies. It sounds like an Alice user would say "I want to start a bakery" and Alice would respond "you need permission from these agencies" and so forth.

EG – In some cities we're as granular as providing the website and the phone number of the agency. We're still mapping other cities. It'll have a tool to help you get there. So, some cities, we don't have it yet and the business owner will tell me, "Hey, this isn't on your site. Here's what I found." And we'll pop it up within a day.

There are things that every business, no matter what industry, where they're located, have to do. They have to register, they have to do their taxes, they have to pay somebody. So, you'll see even at the March 27 event, we'll have somebody talking about accounting and finances. We'll always have someone who will talk about customer acquisition since it's our biggest question. We always have government there to hear what those owners need.

Sometimes that's in the form of the SBA, sometimes in the form of city or state agencies, sometimes it's federal. If you don't have access or understanding of those fundamental basics, it's very hard to go from there. And sometimes it's a two-way conversation. For this event there was a lot of interest in how do I retain, not just achieve new customers but retain them?

SCG – You mentioned earlier the location of small businesses as a factor and I wanted to transition into talking about your role at the Rebuild Northbay Foundation. In interviews, Jennifer Gray Thompson, Rebuild's executive director, has framed the organization's mission around looking at a "new regional reality" for the five-county North Bay. To my knowledge, that's a relatively new framing. In terms of the North Bay, how do you think of it as a distinct entity and the challenges small business owners face up here?

EG - The post-disaster environment has created this exchange of ideas almost out of necessity between Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Marin and the whole area. I think also business owners have had to be smarter about where are their customers going and coming from.I think the days that a small business stays in the same place for 25 or 30 years are gone, whether I'm a barber shop, dry cleaner, whether I'm a new business.

But, so where are your customers? You've got this massive flow of what I would call really critical mid-level professionals – nurses, electricians, construction workers – folks that are critical but they are a little more transient than in the past. Small business owners have to ask, "am I losing those customers or am I going to find a way to keep them"?

The last thing I'll say is, this is nothing to do with disasters, but the expense and the extremeness of San Francisco.

I think you are seeing the value of business owners understanding, even if I had a small business brand, the farther North I go, the cheaper the rent is, the more space I have, the more access to customers I have and so on.

SCG – What has Rebuild Northbay been working on for the past year?

EG – Oh, man, we're working hard. Rebuild Northbay is a body of volunteer board of directors and very deliberately coming from different counties and different sectors. Some nonprofit, some small business, some large business and what I would call some networks and advocacy folks.

The goal is to look at and advocate for what are the long-term needs of the region. We decided to look at three things: advocacy, communication and supporting local recovery projects.

Number one is advocacy, which includes taking business owners, families, and local policy makers to Washington DC and Sacramento to advocate for the funds needed to rebuild.

We organized families around the block captain program. Each 50 to 100 houses has a block captain. They are elected by the community to really represent the needs of that community. It's been adopted in Larkfield-Wikiup and other areas. District 5 Supervisor Lynda Hopkins is thinking of doing it post-floods with different businesses.

The second objective was to become a communication and convener system. So, we ended up pulling groupings together of all the community foundations in the region. We hosted meetings to talk with each other. It was how the block captains thing blossomed how is that communications going. It was this whole "how are we communicating on advocacy." So we ended up building a website that's very dynamic. If you're a community leader, a family or a contractor, you can push or pull information through the site.

And the third area has been these episodic projects that live nowhere. It's projects that aren't covered by insurance or government. Maybe it crosses a county border so it's not just one community foundation.

For instance, the wall in Coffey Park is owned by hundreds and hundreds of people. There's a bridge in Larkfield that no one technically owned. There's a ton in Lake and Mendocino counties as well that are just quiet, critical $50,000 here, $100,000 there projects that we meet with the five community foundations and say, "ok, is someone taking the lead?" If not, they'll ask us to and then pull money for whatever. And we do all that and don't take any administrative fee and so on.

SCG – In terms of the struggles for the regional economy, North Bay Jobs With Justice, a local labor nonprofit, came out with a report in November that highlights the big economic divergence in the local economy and all of the problems that causes, including causing workers to commute long distances. The report also predicts that it's going to keep getting worse. About three quarters of the new jobs created in the next five or ten years are going to pay less than $20 an hour. Is Rebuild Northbay talking about things like that as well?

EG – We're not. We're not saying that's not important by any means. Right now we're focused first on the families and what do they need to rebuild their homes. Second, is helping existing businesses to survive the three-year hump which statistics show post-disasters are the hardest for these businesses. It's not just the first six weeks after a disaster, it's the first three years. So, we're looking at things that are right here, right now. We also have a lot of employers on the board who are living that every single day and trying to figure it out themselves too.

SCG – I noticed that you also have the fourth annual Circular Summit coming up in May. That seems like a different group of attendees. What is the Circular Summit?

EG – Yes, it's a totally different world. This actually pre-dated Alice. The Circular Summit is for women entrepreneurs who have companies that are destined to grow past that small business marker and how do we support them, educate them and ensure that they are getting the right connections.

So, what you'll see is we have banks there, venture capitalists, a lot of national media to help tell the stories of the businesses and then, most importantly, they have each other. And so women leave very connected to having a support system to grow their business.

We made a commitment not long after the fires to try to bring it here because it's a big partnership between a lot of groups and foundations. So, I hope it will bring a lot of revenue to Sonoma County because it's folks from all over the country and the world flying in for it. And also just show that we are open for business, we have a lot of stuff going on, we also have a lot of talented founders ourselves in this environment. So, I'm excited to showcase our home here.

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