Now that the holidays are past behind us, some of you may have some New Year’s resolutions that involve your business. Perhaps you’re looking to add more inventory, or perhaps buy new equipment. Whatever you end up doing there’s a good likelihood that you’ll need some working capital to make things happen. We recently sat down with Rachel Ellis, owner of mirror|mirror fashion boutique in Windsor who recently decided to expand her business and create a website to make online sales and asked her some questions regarding her experience.
What was your motivation to expand your business?
Rachel: Expanding my business to make online sales has always been a goal of mine. There’s been a considerable shift in shopping habits from consumers over the last few years, and we’re seeing shoppers take this route more and more. We have a strong social media presence so creating an online presence seemed like the next logical step.
What were your first steps to get started?
Rachel: I first outlined what I wanted for my website and sketched it out. Once I had a good starting point, I then got price quotes for the work I wanted to be done. Shortly after I went to my traditional financial institution the options that were offered did not fit my business needs, so I consulted with you (Town’s Economic Development Manager) on potential next steps. I first reached out to Napa-Sonoma SBDC who recommended that I put together a strong business plan and executive summary. They then provided me with the contact information for Working Solutions, a micro-lending organization that specializes working with small businesses.
What was the process like with Working Solutions:
Rachel: They were super easy to work with. I initially filled out and online application but was contacted by their Director of Business Development, Laurie O’Hara, who provided me with a more detailed application. The process did entail a considerable amount of paperwork but necessary. I was required to submit:
– Formal business plan and executive summary
– Balance sheet
– Year-to-date profit and loss
– Personal financial statements
– Two-year projections
What I also liked about them is that included as part of their services is business consulting. They help lead you through the process from the beginning. For me, the whole process was approximately four weeks, from gathering all the necessary documentation to the approval of the loan.
Do you have any recommendations for anyone that is considering taking this next step?
Rachel: I recommend that you have a solid idea of what type of expansion you’re looking to do and how much capital you’ll need. Contact your local City or Town and ask for help. There are a lot of great free resources available that can help you take that next step including outlining a step-by-step of the process. The process can be a bit intimidating, but the amount of support is very helpful. Everyone that I worked with was helpful and easy to work with.
If you’d like additional information regarding capital or how to put together a business plan, you can contact Robert Ramirez, Economic Development Manager, at (707) 838-5339, email@example.com.