Home-Based Business Utilizes SBA Resources and Programs to Strive

SBA District Director, Karen Friel; SBDC Business Coach Sharon Stratton;  Co-Owners Phillip Donnelly and Charles Penn

Initial Situation

After his favorite fragrance was discontinued, Charles Penn decided to start his own home fragrance company with business partner Phillip Donnelly in 2012. Starting with limited business knowledge the duo partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) resource partner the WV Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to garner advice on how to get started, file appropriate city documentation for a home business, and find access to capital.

How SBA Helped

Penn and Donnelly had a concept for a business but needed guidance. They ended up at an SBDC Business Fundamental’s workshop hosted by business coach Sharon Stratton, and as they say “the rest is history.” Through one-on-one counseling with Stratton the duo was able to identify and evaluate their opportunity, development a business plan, determine the required resources – including an SBA microloan through the First Microloan of West Virginia, and manage the resulting business.

“Without SBA and the SBDC, I wouldn’t have had the fundamental business basics to understand the entrepreneurial process,” states Penn.

With the microloan from SBA’s microlender Tim James, at the First Microloan of West Virginia, Penn & Co. was able to invest in a larger wax melting pot, purchase larger quantities of supplies, and enhance their technology.

“With the assistance we have received we have been able to double our sales over the last two years,” states Penn.


Any entrepreneur will tell you starting a small business is not for the faint of heart. But Penn and Donnelly encourage those thinking of starting a small business to do it!

“Find something you love or let something you love find you,” states Penn. 

“But don’t let it stop there,” warns Donnelly. “There will be obstacles to overcome, make sure you find smart people – like Sharon Stratton and Tim James, ask them questions, and the most important part…don’t take no for an answer.”