From Inside Business
Attendees at the Start-up Summit for Entrepreneurs were encouraged to get up from their seats, walk over to the big windows lining the room at the Slover Library and gaze out over downtown Norfolk.
“What do you see?” asked Joan Finley, a planner with Norfolk’s zoning department.
“Opportunity” was a word repeated consistently by the approximately 80 people who came to the free workshop April 24 with dreams of starting their own businesses.
The summit, paid for by a $70,000 grant from SunTrust Foundation, was a partnership between the city and the Hampton Roads Workforce Council.
Aleea Slappy, interim diversity and inclusion officer for the city, said the idea behind the event was to walk budding entrepreneurs through the steps to business ownership.
“There are a lot of folks who are in that startup or idea stage and they always come either to economic development or other city departments wanting to know the process for getting started,” she said. “We’re trying to simplify that process so they know the step-by-step and demystify that it takes a whole lot to start a business in the city.”
Slappy said Norfolk is home to more than 7,000 small businesses.
“We want you to not only start your business here, we want you to scale your business, build a sustainable company, create a job for yourself, but even more than that we want you to create jobs for other folks,” she said. “We want to make sure that you’re equipped with all the tools for success.”
Slappy went over the three “Cs of success:” customer, competition and company.
Darius Weaver, 24, works in health care. He said he came to the workshop to network and learn as much as he could about entrepreneurship.
Lena Bovgyria is in school to become a nutrition health coach and wants to set up a business as a counselor after graduation.
“I wanted to light up my path a little bit about the resources that are valuable to small business owners,” she said.
Finley was one of the four city staffers who shared presentations in their respective areas of expertise. Other speakers were Daun Hester, city treasurer; Charlie Stanton, deputy commissioner for business revenue; and Krystyna Owen, purchasing agent.
Rudolph Artis, founder and chief executive officer of Influance Hair Care, said his journey to business ownership has been an awesome one and he commended the attendees for their choice to learn the steps.
Originally an industrial engineering major, Artis found his passion in the hair care industry at 19 years old and changed his major to business management and marketing.
He encouraged the audience to follow the “Ps” which include: passion, planning and preparation, productivity and profit.
He also stressed – as he knew his vision was bigger than him – the importance of securing a well-rounded advisory team that includes: an accountant, loan officer, financial adviser, business attorney, insurance agents and coach/mentor.
“I challenge everyone in here to have a strong business model/plan, look at, analyze it and continue to revise and enhance it,” Artis said encouraging them to be the entrepreneurs they desire to be.
Artis said when he looked out the window the first thing he thought about was dreams.
“Look at all the dreams that are outside, all the buildings filled with dreams that came from somebody’s thought process …” he said.
From Inside Business
By Sandra Pennecke
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