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.
SBA, Small Business Development Center, and Urban League of Rochester help Jamestown engineer grow his business
BUFFALO, NY – For Tolman Engineering, PLLC owner Rex Tolman, success comes with doing things right and doing them right the first time. “We have over a decade of municipal experience but given the Veterans Administration “Veterans First” program have experienced significant growth over the last few years by designing infrastructure improvements at VA Medical Centers,” said Tolman.
Tolman, a service-disabled veteran who started his company in 2002 took an in-depth look into his engineering company and knew he needed help. Although he was receiving a number of Veterans Administration engineering contracts, he needed additional support to build on his collateral and service his clients.
“I attended a seminar hosted by the Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College where they spoke about loan opportunities and particularly the Patriot Express loan program for veterans,” he said. “I looked into it and ended up with a no fee $100,000 line of credit with SBA and Five Star Bank.”
Tolman admits the seminar forced him to seek advice and gather additional information from the free resources of the SBA. “The SBA and SBDC at JCC helped me to assess my approach and look closer into the future,” he says. “Knowing where you can turn for help, can really make a difference!”
As his engineering business expanded, Tolman’s need for loan capacity grew. In 2011, Tolman Engineering hired three full-time and one part-time employee with anticipated growth over the next year. Space and additional projects also became an issue and his company began looking to re-locate to a new building or expand the current office.
Tolman secured a second Patriot Express loan through SBA and Five Star that allowed him to fund his new payroll and construction of a 2,000 square foot addition to their Jamestown office in 2012. The additional funding gave Tolman Engineering the ability to acquire additional projects winning 14 in the last three years. Company growth continues to grow from 30% in 2011 to 50% in 2012.
“Strong relationships with SBA and their resource partners are essential in providing small business owners, like Rex, with increased access to capital that they need to create and retain jobs,” said Steve Swanson, Vice President and Commercial Lender, Five Star Bank. “From my initial meeting with Rex, it was evident that he had the passion, knowledge, and support to bring his company to the next level.”
With bigger opportunities on the horizon, Rex decided to participate in the “Small Business Teaming Program” with the Urban League of Rochester. The SBTP provides assistance and guidance to small business owners seeking to compete for larger federal contracts through workshops and one-on-one technical assistance. Participants receive assistance with the formation and execution of teaming arrangements, aid in identifying contracting opportunities, assistance with the preparation and submission of bids, and much more.
Currently in its second program year, the Small Business Teaming Program collaborates with the U.S. Small Business Administration, resource partners, and other federal, state and local government small business development programs to make the Program a great success.
Rex learned to take advantage of the many opportunities SBA and its resource partners had to offer. ”We have grown into a successful business by doing it right the first time,” “You just have to stick to it, nothing is easy!”
“America’s veterans have the leadership skills and experience to become successful entrepreneurs and small business owners,” SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin J. Sciortino said. “As we celebrate Independence Day, we renew our commitment to the millions of veterans and service members across the country. The Patriot Express program puts more capital and more tools in the hands of veterans as they grow their business and create jobs America needs.”
The Patriot Express loans are offered by SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide and features one of SBA’s fastest turnaround times for loan approvals. PX loans can be used for most business purposes, including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or business-occupied real-estate purchases. For more information, contact your local Buffalo District office at (716) 551-4301 or Rochester Branch office at (716) 263-6700. Details on the PX program are available at www.sba.gov/patriotexpress.
Business Matchmaker Puts Contracts into the Hands of Small Business
An agency dedicated to connecting small businesses with people who can help them, and programs that can grow their skills has awarded over $10 million in contract dollars to Western New York small businesses. The General Services Administration‘s Acquisition Management Division – Upstate Unit based in Syracuse, New York has been attending SBA’s Business Matchmaker for the past five years.
After all, a big part of GSA’s mission matches perfectly with the mission of the SBA Business Matchmaker: both help the small business community reach key contracting experts to help navigate the procurement process and provides opportunities for small businesses to hold face-to-face appointments with government and procurement officials regarding potential contracts “Before Matchmaker, our office had not been exposed to the diverse and dynamic small disadvantaged businesses looking to compete in the marketplace and access our federal procurement opportunities,” said David Cassert, contracting officer for the GSA’s AMD. “We continue to attend this event because we know the value that these small businesses can provide the federal government.”
Celebrating its 8th annual event, SBA has hosted Business Matchmaker as an opportunity for small businesses to meet with buyers from federal, state, and local government agencies and national businesses. Government agencies, national businesses, and prime contractors are looking for qualified firms to buy products and services they need to fulfill government procurements.
Over the years, GSA AMD has met with several small business clients, from construction to service maintenance. Additionally, through the agency’s “meet and greet” appointments, they have benefited the contracting officers by introducing them to an even larger group of new and diversified contractors.
In fact, GSA AMD Contracting Officer, David Cassert was awarded with one of two national awards, the “U.S. General Services Administration Office of Small Business Utilization 2012 Above and Beyond Award” for outstanding and innovative support of small business.
“SBA’s commitment to helping America’s small businesses expand and grow has allowed our office the opportunity to strengthen our commitment to assist small businesses in obtaining contracts and providing them with the resources they need to become successful,” said Kevin Flanagan, GSA AMD Contracting Supervisor.
Cassert told the story of Lenny Johnson, U.S. Veterans Construction & Management Corp. who sought him out at the Matchmaker event last year. U.S. VCM Corp. is a service disabled veteran company and commercial contractor. Johnson was looking for projects in plumbing remodeling, heating, abatement, demolition and construction. After the company’s meeting, GSA AMD was able to process an offer and the contract was awarded in August 2012.
“I'm pleased that SBA has played a role in the growth and prosperity of so many small business contractors,” said SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin J. Sciortino. “Our business matchmaker has been an essential instrument for helping small business entrepreneurs gain access to and assisting hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs gain a foothold in government contracting.”
The SBA Buffalo District Office, SCORE Buffalo Niagara and Business First will host the 8th Annual Small Business Matchmaker on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. For more information and to register, please visit www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/event/81451.
The SBA provides small business counseling and training through a variety of programs and resource partners. For more information, please contact your local SBA Buffalo district office at (716) 551-4301 or visit us online at www.sba.gov.