This story originally appeared on longbeachsbdc.org.
Dinuka Ranasinghe studied law and passed the New York Bar exam. But after realizing law was not her passion, she decided to pursue her dream: working with young children. She began studying early childhood development and in 2008 purchased a preschool in Long Beach, California called Kid Works Children’s Center.
When she first visited Kid Works, Dinuka “immediately fell in love with the school and knew this is what [she] wanted to wake up and do every morning.” Threatened by a cash crisis, Dinuka faced the possibility of losing her newly acquired business. “I wanted to run a quality preschool, so I kept spending money on making improvements,” she explained. Then in 2014, a parent at the preschool referred her to Mike Daniel. Daniel is the former director of the Small Business Development Center hosted by Long Beach City College.
Daniel enlisted SBDC Business Advisor Laura Lara to work with Dinuka. They helped her budget, manage her finances, find the short-term capital necessary to keep the business afloat, and develop a plan to increase long-term revenue.
Soon after implementing her new business model, Dinuka began seeing a significant change in the bottom line. She added a Spanish dual-immersion afterschool kindergarten program and launched a summer camp in July 2015. Thanks to help from the SBDC, sales increased by 25 percent in less than a year. Dinuka retained her seven original employees and all of her customers; Kid Works now operates at full capacity. In the future, Dinuka plans to improve the school, purchase new furniture and equipment, and hire more employees.