Doing her homework paid off for businesswoman Kathleen Wilcox of Kathleen's Fudge and Fun Stuff. A former tennis director and accomplished biathlon, triathlon and marathon athlete, Wilcox faced a devastating diagnosis in 1996. She had multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease of the central nervous system.
Facing this mind-boggling change of life event, Wilcox's survival response was to search within for a career change. Thus, she began to research and set the foundation for starting her own business.
"My passion is fun," says Wilcox. Her homework was to study her passion: developing and owning a fudge shop. Subsequently, for two years she immersed herself in different phases of running such a business. Kathleen traveled to Kitty Hawk, N.C., to observe how sweet shops cater to tourists. She traveled to Hawaii to see how cocoa beans grow and are processed. She enrolled in an eight-week, business plan course at the Greater Richmond Small Business Development Center to learn about the important aspects of running a business. Kathleen remembers the course taken over eight years ago and reflects, “I can’t envision going to class without having done my homework.”
Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are resource partners of the U.S. Small Business Administration that provide managerial and technical assistance to start-up and existing businesses. The SBDCs specialize in providing direct one-on-one counseling and training classes on starting a small business. The SBA, founded in 1953 by the U.S. Congress, is a champion for small businesses. SBA helps entrepreneurs start and build viable businesses that create the jobs that strengthen communities. The SBA extends its programs to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.
Entrepreneurial research and preparation can significantly reduce failure rates by as much as 50 percent. Mike Leonard, Executive Director of the Greater Richmond SBDC, supports this fact by noting that Kathleen's 7-½ year history "speaks to her determination and her extensive planning and research prior to opening her business."
Kathleen's mission statement of "FUN" is shown throughout her store. Her business is a shining beacon to others, especially those who are faced with tribulations. A positive attitude, sound preparation, hard work, and resolute dedication often make the difference between success and failure. At Kathleen's Fudge & Fun Stuff you buy fun and the sweet verdict is definitely "success."