We’ve all heard the old saying, “Choose a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life.” Chad Clark and Mark Binegar are proving this adage true with the assistance of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Clark and Binegar dreamed of owning their own cosmetology school for over a decade. Clark would handle admissions and marketing and Binegar, a trained cosmetologist with over 25 years of experience, would oversee education. Together, they put their heart and soul into developing a curriculum, creating a business plan, and designing a school they were proud to represent. After a few setbacks, the team was ready to make the dream a reality; however they stumbled upon a roadblock that jeopardized all of their hard work.
Clark visited multiple banks looking for a loan to fund the start-up company. Each bank led to the same response – “loan denied.” That is, until Clark was connected with Tim James from the First Microloan of West Virginia, a designated lender for the SBA. Through assistance from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), partially funded through the SBA, Clark was able to perfect his business plan and secure a loan through the microloan program.
“I don’t take ‘no’ very well and was getting frustrated,” Binegar stated. Luckily with help from James and the SBDC, Artisan School of Cosmetology was born. Binegar credits the SBA assistance they received saying, “If it weren’t for you guys, we wouldn’t be here.”
The school is doing well, they currently have ten students enrolled and two have completed the program. With the success, they are seeing next semester’s enrollment numbers have increased significantly and there are plans to bring on an additional instructor. Long term, the team has plans to open six to ten more schools in the next five years.
Not only are Clark and Binegar living their entrepreneurship dream, but they are helping mold the future of young blooming entrepreneurs. Students learn basic cosmetology technics but also how to own and operate their own salon. “Knowing how to build your clientele and run your own salon is very important for our students, especially now with the increased cost of booth rentals,” said Binegar.
For more information on programs and services offered by the SBA, visit www.sba.gov.
Christina DeAntonia, born and raised in Morgantown West Virginia, had a dream - a dream of Hollywood and fashion. She, as the daughter of an entrepreneur, also had determination - so at the age of 19, she moved to Tampa Florida to purse her passion at design school.
In 2005, after completing her education, Christina moved to Hollywood to achieve her dream of being a wardrobe stylist. During her five years in Los Angeles she did just that. Christina had the opportunity to work on commercials, music videos, independent films - and her overall dream, a feature film. After conquering all she went to LA to accomplish, she was ready to continue her stylist career in the hometown she loved - Morgantown.
Christina wanted to do something no one else was doing in Morgantown, so she decided to open her own boutique and bring Melrose Avenue to Morgantown. She had the dream but knew she had to pitch it to find the funds.
After shopping her dream around to multiple banks she ended up in the office of the Small Business and Development Center (SBDC), speaking with business coach, Sharon Stratton. At the age of 29, Christina didn’t have the collateral required by most banks and wasn’t sure where to go next. Stratton helped Christina in preparing her business plan and put her in contact with the Washington County Council, who is an SBA’s microloan guarantor.
“I loved the fact that I could sit down and talk with someone open and honestly,” said Christina when asked about her experience working with the Washington County Council. “They really listen to your concerns and questions and they are there to help you succeed.”
Christina has words of wisdom to other young entrepreneurs who may face the same challenges, “Contact your local SBDC office and get started on your business plan,” she said. “If you can’t put forth the effort it takes to plan your business, then you aren’t ready to dedicate your life to it.”
Christina had the hard work and dedication needed to launch a new business. In April of 2010, she opened the doors to Altered Ego Boutique. Now, after being in business for three years, she is pursuing a new dream – Christina will soon launch an online version of Altered Ego Boutique.
“I owe a great amount of gratitude to Sharon at the SBDC and also those involved with the SBA microloan program,” she said. “They helped me accomplish my dream.”
To contact the WVSBDC call the Business AskMe! Line at 888-982-7232. For more information on loan guarantee programs visit sba.gov.
A day in the life of Shahram and Shana Shafii, owners of the Donut Connection in Fairmont, includes being the boss, repairman, accountant, business manager, night-shift production employee, marketing representative and cheerleader. Pretty much it means working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Although Shafii’s life now revolves around his business, you will never hear him complain. What you will see is him tackle his day with a contagiously positive attitude and sweet demeanor.
The Donut Connection has seen quick success during their first year of operation. Shafii’s eyes lit up when he spoke of what the future holds. “It’s exciting, we are so blessed to be in this community,” Shafii said. “We have great employees and Fairmont has really embraced the shop. Because of this, we are currently looking into a larger space and expanding our product line.”
Although the success he is experiencing is sweet, it hasn’t always been easy. Getting a loan to open the franchise was a challenge. Since it was a start-up loan in the restaurant industry, many banks that Shafii visited wouldn’t take the risk. That’s until he was connected with Tim James from First Microloan of West Virginia.
First Microloan of West Virginia is a designated lender for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Through the SBA microloan program, First Microloan of West Virginia is able to provide up to $50,000 of capital to higher risk small businesses. They don’t take business away from banks, but offer banks another option to provide their customers.
“Shahram was great to work with, he knew exactly what he wanted and he did his homework,” said James. “He really took the time to do research and then asked questions.”
Shafii, a former college football coach for Fairmont State University, has the same determination in business as he had on the field. “You have to see it - have the vision, smell it - be persistent, and taste it - don’t take no for an answer,” Shafii said. “I wasn’t going to let one, two, three or even a hundred banks telling me no, stop me from pursing my dream.”
It is because of that persistence that Shafii is now a small business success story. When asked his words of wisdom for other’s who may be experiencing the same struggles, Shaffi said, “You have to do your research, you have to find people like Tim James and ask them questions, and you have to follow through.”