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Resource Partner Named Women in Business Champion of the Year

Susan Lindgren, President of YESS! – Your Extraordinary Success Strategies – and Ideal Coaching, Inc., has been named the Women in Business Champion of the Year for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Minnesota District Office as well as the upper Midwest Region.

The Women in Business Champion is selected annually to honor individuals who have fulfilled a commitment to the advancement of women’s business ownership.

The regional award winner is selected from among the state winners. In addition to Minnesota, SBA’s upper Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Lindgren is a best-selling author, Certified Management Effectiveness Coach, internationally recognized seminar leader, speaker and entrepreneur with 15 years experience. Her experience includes working across industries with all sizes of organizations. Sue specializes in the domains of communication, leadership, coaching and organizational effectiveness.

Lindgren is an entrepreneur who works with individuals and companies committed to fulfillment and excellence. In 1995, Lindgren co-founded Vistar Integrated Programs, an international training and consulting company. She currently owns and operates YESS! – Your Extraordinary Success Strategies, Inc, an innovative training, consulting and coaching organization. She co-founded Ideal Coaching, a world-class coaching organization offering the first certification program based in Minnesota.

Lindgren donates her time to the clients of WomenVenture, a non-profit organization that has helped over 78,000 men and women achieve their business and career dreams. Through a variety of programs, services and practical tools, Lindgren has been able to provide a comprehensive, full-circle experience that helps people on their journeys to economic success and prosperity during all stages of their professional lives including starting and running effective businesses.

Lindgren also is a facilitator for the three Minnesota Chapters of the Women President’s Organization (WPO). The WPO is an international business owner’s roundtable working with second stage business owners to confidently discuss business issued facing the continuing development of successful woman owned businesses.

Lindgren is known as a resource for business owners. She has donated more than 200 hours of coaching within the last year to facilitate the development of clients and their businesses. She continues with this pro-bono work as a way she can give back to the community.

Networking is the Key to Woman Business Owner’s Success

Marina Sirras’ business is to make other business’ legal recruiting and staffing problems go away. And she’s been at it through her company, Marina Sirras & Associates LLC, since 1987.

MS&A helps firms and corporations throughout the world connect with the resources they need and specializes in the placement of attorneys and administrative staff at all levels of experience within legal settings. The company also provides consulting services for office expansions, growth strategies, mergers and practice group acquisitions. MS&A is successful and held in high regard in the industry---a tribute to Sirras’ knowledge, business sense and networking skills.

Prior to launching MS&A, Sirras spent several years as a marketing analyst at the A.C. Nielsen Company and then joined Warwick & Legler, a mid-sized New York advertising agency. Her professional career was going very well when, in 1968, she left the workforce to be a stay-at-home mom, and spent the following seventeen years raising her kids and volunteering her time to community activities.

In 1986, Sirras rejoined the workforce and began her career in legal search at one of the largest search firms in New York. A year later she partnered with a former colleague and they formed a Manhattan-based, legal-search firm.

In October 1987, just three weeks after they incorporated, the stock market crashed. Although the new company suffered a setback along with the rest of the economy, Sirras used her networking talents to drum up business and the company recovered within a year. Her partner left the company in 1991, so she took over full control and Marina Sirras & Associates was born. Through continued networking, and the addition of her daughter in the company, Sirras continued to grow MS&A’s reputation, sales and staff.

By 2001, a third of MS&A’s clients were coming from businesses in the World Trade Center and from the surrounding area. The 9/11 assault on the towers brought business to a complete stand-still for the next five months and Sirras subsequently lost two fulltime employees.

Sirras’ husband had heard a radio ad for the U.S. Small Business Administration and suggested contacting them for help. She was directed to the Baruch College Small Business Development Center and met with business counselor, Allison Lehr. After determining that her business was eligible for an SBA Economic Injury Loan, Sirras applied for a $100,000 loan, and was overjoyed when she actually received a loan for $154,000.

As a result of the SBDC assistance and the SBA loan, two jobs were saved, one new job was created, and according the Sirras – revenues increased by 150%. Now, Sirras has six recruiters working in her Manhattan office and has recruiters working remotely in Texas, Washington, DC, and Massachusetts.

Sirras is currently the president of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants, and being considered an expert in her field, is frequently solicited for her take on industry development and trends.

From her experience, Sirras offers optimistic advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs--- “Analyze what you are capable of, what your niche is, and go for it. And be resourceful; networking is your best tool. It’s amazing what you will be able to accomplish.”

-by DeAnn Misilmeri


Recovery Loan Keeps Business Going

“If you hear, ‘No,’ just keep going until you hear, ‘Yes,’” June Gold says.

Gold followed her own tenacious advice as president of GraphLogic, Inc., a Branford, Conn., high-tech software and program developer.

She was turned down for a $500,000 loan by a bank after her husband and company co-founder, Steve, suddenly passed away in July 2008. She looked elsewhere, but bank rejection continued.

The problem? GraphLogic didn’t produce “a product you could drop on your foot,” she said. “We weren’t a widget-maker, so they just didn’t get it.” Gold and her husband started the company with an SBA loan years before.

Despite contracts from two large pharmaceutical companies, Gold couldn’t get a loan to help her company while waiting for insurance to pay off the original loan. Gold still needed money to hire skilled staff and continue marketing her products.

Then she chanced upon a workshop at Gateway Community College in New Haven, where one of the directors told her to contact the Christopher Earle at the New Alliance Bank.

“As soon as we met, I knew,” Gold said. “They found a way to make it happen.”

GraphLogic finished 2008 with $1.2 million in sales.

With her $400,000 SBA 7(a) loan on May 19, Gold hired a seasoned sales person, and is expanding operations.