Entrepreneurs hold onto their dreams

October 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Even though the economy is down and getting a loan is more difficult than ever, there are those who are still holding on to their dream of owning their own business. Some would-be business owners are learning how to succeed in this climate.

"My dream is to start an alternative health care service," said Trudy Chatman.

Chatman's dream is stuffed into a 100 square foot room in East Palo Alto. The sign doesn't show it, but she's a massage therapist renting space inside a realtor's office. She doesn't know how to get her business out of the small room and off the ground.

"One of the things we need, as with anybody else, is funding, financing, how to get and secure the financing that we need,"said Trudy Chatman, a massage therapist.

"Accessing capital for a start up is very, very difficult," said Oscar Dominguez, from Renaissance Start Up.

In a time when banks are tightening their lending and the economy is down, Dominguez spends his days trying to figure out the best way to help inexperienced entrepreneurs start small businesses.

"It is a huge responsibility, something we want you guys to take very seriously," said Dominguez.

The former consultant now leads workshops for the non-profit, Renaissance Start Up. That where attendees, like Trudy, learn about business models, marketing, and loans.

"If you're looking for a loan for a start up then what you really want to do is talk to a community lender, there are lots of community lenders out there," said Dominguez.

These lenders work with the big banks and make smaller loans. Another must have in these tough times is a good business plan. The service industry and health care are growing fields that also receive a lot of grant dollars. That's why attendance at workshops like these, throughout the Bay Area, is rising.

"A lot of the jobs they had depended on for the well being of their families are not there anymore so they're looking for something to help them, so they can take control over their economic destinies," said Kimberly Carlton, from Renaissance Start Up.

Those who complete all of the workshops usually launch a brand new business nine months later. In fact, 13 percent of East Palo Alto businesses, started right here.


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