When Jessica Acosta was faced with the prospect of not having a job she made the only decision she could make. She decided to start her own small business.
Jessica became the Founder and CEO of Environmental Consulting Services (ECS), LLC. ECS was established to service and address environmental management and water quality compliance needs of private, federal, state and local clients.
But her decision to start a business was not without some of the common hurdles that other women-owned small business owners encounter. In fact, a former supervisor told her she had three things working against her – being female, young and Latina. Even then Jessica was determined to be successful. Her response was “Wait and see; I’m going to make those things work for me instead of against me.”
Jessica was smart enough to realize she didn’t know everything she needed to know about how to start her business. Having come from the construction industry with certifications as an inspector and storm water specialist, she had the technical background for the business but didn’t know anything about starting a business.
In 2010 she began taking classes through the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network. The Colorado Small Business Development Center Network (CSBDC) is dedicated to helping existing and new businesses grow and prosper in Colorado by providing free and confidential consulting and no- or low-cost training programs.
The CSBDC has locations around the state which provide free, confidential one-on-one business consulting and no- or low-cost training. “The SBDC partnered with me in creating a road map to where I wanted to go with my company and how I would get there,” said Jessica. The SBDC helps business owners create and retain jobs, secure loans, increase sales, win government contracts, obtain certifications and more. For more information on the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network go to www.coloradosbdc.org or call (303) 892-3840.
Jessica also participated in classes through SBA’s Women Business Center, Mi Casa Resource Center. She completed a 13-week Business Success course and a next-level entrepreneurial training program called Business Breakthrough. “At Mi Casa I learned about all the components of a business: structure, marketing, operations, finance, “ said Jessica. Mi Casa Women’s Business Center offers entrepreneurial training, individual business counseling, technology training and networking opportunities to help aspiring entrepreneurs and emerging businesses achieve their goals. Mi Casa offers business development programs in English and Spanish. For more information on Mi Casa Resource Center go to www.micasaresourcecenter.org or call (303) 573-1302.
In addition to utilizing the programs and services of SBA’s resource partners, Jessica was recently accepted into SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program. The free seven-month executive educational series includes classroom time and provides the opportunity for small business owners to work with experienced mentors, and develop connections with their peers, city leaders and financial communities.
Since 2008 the Emerging Leaders Program nationally has trained more than 2,000 promising small business owners in underserved communities and continues its impact to help small business owners grow and create jobs. Nearly 400 businesses graduated from the program in 2013 – the largest graduating class since the program began.
As a result of the information shared in the classes she took combined with her knowledge about her own industry, Jessica was able to start her business in 2011. She continues to participate in workshops and classes that help her become a stronger women-owned business.
She gives back to her community by serving as a board member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Adelante Mujer, Inc; and has volunteered for Florence Crittenton Services. She recently was recognized as one of Colorado’s leading entrepreneurs by The Denver Business Journal as a 2014 "40 under 40" award recipient.
When business challenges arise Jessica’s advice is, “Don’t let the challenges be a roadblock, let them make you more determined to be successful. It doesn’t matter what the stereotypes are - what matters is how you see yourself.”