This story was originally published on microbizinsocal.org.
In January 2011, Erin Foate moved back with her parents after graduating with a degree in business. She had no job, no car, and was living off her savings. Her parents and (then) fiancé helped cover her bills. She developed a business plan for a dog daycare and pursued an initial start-up loan, but they turned her down. It was then that she was referred to the Inland Empire Women’s Business Center (IEWBC).
I didn’t understand why they would send me to the business center for classes when I had gone to school for business. But I went anyway, and it actually was the best place for me at the time. I met a lot of other women (and men) struggling like me to make their dream a reality. A majority of them had lost everything in recent years, and they were starting over. It gave me hope.
Through the IEWBC, Erin started taking free and low-cost classes, meeting with experts, and talking regularly with a business counselor. She wanted to make sure she was on the right track for her dog daycare plans. She also learned of other programs like the Individual Development Accounts (IDA) Program of Community Action Partnership of Riverside County (CAP Riverside).
Through CAP Riverside’s IDA program, Erin attended financial capability and business-specific workshops that helped her grow personally and professionally. She was also able to meet her IDA savings goal and then receive the match to her savings. This formed the base of the capital injection she needed to qualify for an SBA loan.
So she revised her business plan one more time.
Ready for primetime
With new plans to start a much smaller daycare and focus on in-home pet care rather than boarding, she set out to try again. This change allowed her to quickly find a building in a retail location. There, she could offer grooming, daycare, and training while still providing clients with in-home pet care and taxi service. Now that she had a building in mind, she went to CDC Small Business Finance in the hope of securing a loan.
Erin finally got the answer she had been waiting for: her SBA microloan was approved. She opened the doors of Dachs 2 Danes, Inc. on June 16, 2014.
The IDA program has been a huge blessing in my life. I was able to grow my business because of it, and I will be forever grateful for that. Starting a business with very little money is almost impossible so programs like this really make all the difference to an entrepreneur.