SBA Straight Talk, Resources Help Retiree Build Business from the Ground Up
BUFFALO, NY – It was desire that motivated retired secretary, Mary Beth Glatz to create SandDancer, a canine swim therapy and fitness facility she opened in Orchard Park, New York in 2013. Inspired by her beloved Labrador Retriever, the idea of canine swim therapy was easy. Mary Beth recalls, “Several months prior to the end of our Labrador Retriever’s life, our veterinarian recommended swim therapy to help with his deteriorating health. Not only did the swimming extend his life, it improved his quality of life.” These results prompted Mary Beth’s research of canine swim facilities and the future opening of her dream business.
An encore entrepreneur, Glatz says, “After having a taste of being an entrepreneur 20 plus years ago, I had the yearning to again become an entrepreneur. I had the concept and the experience to imagine my vision but I also knew I needed additional guidance to bring my reality to fruition. I called SCORE Buffalo Niagara and met with volunteer mentor Scott Smith, who was very supportive of my ideas. His advice allowed me to prioritize my goals.”
After meeting with SCORE mentor Scott Smith, Mary Beth was referred to another SBA resource, the Small Business Development Center at Buffalo State College. Working with several business advisors at the SBDC, Mary Beth fine-tuned her business plan, set financial projections and gathered the necessary information needed for the construction of her home-based business. As her initial success continued, Mary Beth learned about the U.S. Small Business Administration’s annual Straight Talk conference, where the contacts and training she received helped her successfully start and open SandDancer.
Built from the ground up, SandDancer is an indoor warm water canine therapy and fitness facility that focuses on a dog’s physical and emotional health and well-being. The business features arthritis treatment, weight loss and management, relief for hip, shoulder and elbow dysplasia, improved circulation, post-surgery rehabilitation and much more. Swims are always one-on-one with a certified warm water swim specialist and comprise of one-hour sessions. Each session is customized depending on the dog’s individual needs.
“Straight Talk played a critical role in the development of my business. The contacts and resources provided made it possible for me to move my business forward,” recalled Mary Beth. “SBA, I feel has the greatest resources for small business. I received so much for FREE! For every challenge faced, I had someone who could support me and give advice.”
Straight Talk 2014 is the 18th annual presentation of this program which over the years has attracted thousands of participants. The upcoming half-day seminar will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2014. Available seminars include: “Show Me the Money”, “Business Basics”, “Make Yourself Credit Worthy”, “Accessing Business Opportunities through SBA 8(a), DBE and MWBE Certification”, “Business Assistance for Veterans”, “Navigating Your Business through Taxes & Permits”, “We Did It! You Can Too!” and “Marketing Your Small Business".
“I am convinced that this conference gives entrepreneurs essential tools needed to achieve small business success,” said SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin Sciortino.
Daniel Mitchell is a US Army Combat Medic veteran, who served our country from 1989 to 1993 in the Persian Gulf and Somalia.
He grew up in nearby Utica, New York where at just age 12 he began working in gyms. At this young age, he knew he wanted to change lives. “I felt I had a purpose in life to enhance our quality of life with exercise. I wanted to release this life force through health, training and discipline, said Mitchell.” As founder and owner of The Soap Box, a health and fitness club located in downtown Buffalo, New York, I knew I had the tools to help change lives but knew I needed additional resources to maintain my business structure and add clients.”
Passionate about his clients and the desire to open a second location, Daniel contacted the Small Business Development Center at Buffalo State College and found William Grieshober, Small Business Advisor. Daniel continued to meet with Bill, working on writing a business plan, managing numbers and marketing strategies. Daniel says, Bill was unbelievable, giving him the resources he needed to sharpen his plan and reach his goal of receiving a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guaranteed loan for the start and growth of his new business.
Daniel reflected on his banking experience saying, “At the very start of my ambition to start a business, I contacted the Small Business Administration’s Buffalo District Office who directed me to contact my local banking representative. That’s when I met with George Gardner, my local banking representative. George provided me with some great advice and assisted me through the process of opening my first business with and SBA Patriot Express loan.”
Years later the two met again. Daniel was in search of resources to open his second location. Once again he found George who knew Daniel was a veteran who served in the US Army and encouraged him to apply for an SBA guaranteed loan. Daniel was approved and received his SBA loan from the New York Business Development Center and Lake Shore Savings Bank and in 2012 opened The Powerhouse Studios.
To be eligible to receive an SBA Patriot Express Loan, the business must be owned and controlled (51 percent or more) by eligible veterans and members of the military community who want to establish or expand a small business. Eligible military community members include veterans, service-disabled veterans, active-duty service members eligible for the military’s transition assistance program, reservists and National Guard members, current spouses of any of the above, including any service member and widowed spouses of service members or veterans who died during service or of a service-connected disability. To learn more about SBA’s Patriot Express Loan program, please visit http://www.sba.gov/content/express-pilot-programs
Daniel received his SBA loan and his plan to open a second location was complete. Today, The Soap Box and The Powerhouse Studios are a way of life for many, offering a variety of programs and services to improve one’s health and quality of life. “We recognize that every person has their own set of goals and aspirations and that is why we provide personal certified instructors and various other services including martial arts, aikido and tai-chi.
Daniel is proud to see his dreams of changing lives and watching clients get healthy and stay healthy. “The accomplishment of expanding and growing is rewarding,” said Daniel. “I enjoy training and working with my clients.
For more information on SBA’s program and services, please visit www.sba.gov.
In 2009, Michele (Mickie) Muirhead, now 50, decided she wanted to start her own business, launching HireTheHelp.com in Jamestown New York.
HireTheHelp.com offers house cleaning , elderly care, vehicle detail services (pick-up and delivery), and assistance with computers, pet sitting, landscaping, painting, handyman services, snow removal and almost anything you can imagine in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Warren counties.
Muirhead says she was looking for something different. After rupturing a disk in her back she was physically unable to perform at her cleaning business. So out of a desire to help individuals, and use her degree in social work, Muirhead sought business startup advice from the SBA’s Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College.
“Jamestown SBDC Business Advisor Curt Anderson was extremely helpful. He has so much energy and motivation. His entrepreneurial advice and concern for my business helped me to use my years of experience and connection to start a business to finally pursuing my venture.”
After the experience, Muirhead was determined to get the word out about her business and the services she was able to offer. She focused on hiring and interviewing independent contractors, preparing her business plan and launching the only referral service in town.
“I consider myself blessed,” Muirhead said. “At the very conception of HireTheHelp.com I met Mike Montes, a graphic designer, artist and web designer; he saw a budding entrepreneur with a great idea, gave me a multitude of business advice and assisted me in the design of my brochure and logo. The wisdom and confidence he gave me is immeasurable.”
Today, HireThehelp.com is thriving with over 100 contractors providing services to individuals in Jamestown and the surrounding area. Muirhead has returned several of the unemployed back into the workforce.
One in four individuals ages 44 to 70 is interested in becoming an entrepreneur and 63 percent of Americans plan to work during retirement. SBA and AARP joined forces last year to reach out to baby boomers and provide training and mentoring services for older entrepreneurs to start or grow their small businesses and create jobs. To date, the SBA/AARP alliance has reached almost 50,000 current and aspiring 50+ entrepreneurs with counseling and training programs.
As a referral business, Muirhead was experiencing difficulties in obtaining insurance. When she heard about the SBA’s Encore Entrepreneur event in Jamestown, New York, she knew she was ready to reach out again and obtain the business advice needed to keep her business running.
Business advisor Curt Anderson who previously worked with Muirhead came to the rescue once more. “Working with Curt at the SBA and AARP Encore Entrepreneur Event, I was able to develop my contracts and policies with Curt and learned how to provide excellent customer service. The event allowed me to meet with the mentors and resources needed to continue to grow my business.”
Muirhead’s advice to other 50+ year old entrepreneurs is “feed off your passion, your passion is what drives you to completion. Make sure you feel good about what you are doing and that it’s useful to others.” Muirhead is very proud of the difference she makes in people’s lives.
Throughout September, the SBA Buffalo District office will host three Encore Entrepreneur events on September 12 (Canandaigua), 13 (Albion) and 17 (Ontario). For more information on these events, please visit Aarp.cvent.com/NYEntrepreneur.
SBA developed a 50+ toolkit, at www.sba.gov/encore, that includes an online self-assessment and other free online courses targeted at helping encore entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses.
The training courses include profiles of successful entrepreneurs, recommended action steps, and information on licensing and financing. AARP resources can be found at www.aarp.org/startabusiness.