On April 5th, the 2016 Small Business Mentoring Program Kickoff got off to an enthusiastic start at the San Jose Martin Luther King Jr. Library. Attended by over 20 aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses, the event brought together mentors and mentees from different fields for an afternoon of presentations and speed mentoring. The Small Business Mentoring Program is dedicated to offering support and advice through highly skilled volunteers to aspiring businesses to facilitate their success.
The event kicked off by a brief introduction by our very own Executive Director, Lea King. Lea described both our history and future in organizing these Small Business assistance programs, as well as the wonderful opportunity they provide for both mentors and mentees. Lea was followed by Margaret Yamasaki, Senior Librarian at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Library. Ms. Yamasaki explained the resources that will soon be available in the Small Business Center that is currently under construction. Once completed, the Small Business Center will offer visitors the free use of individual computers as well as access to various programs such as Adobe Creative Suite, Quickbooks, Business Plan Pro, and Microsoft Office. The Center will also offer ongoing free classes and tutorials to teach essential skills for small businesses and entrepreneurs. We are very excited to see the Center’s completion, and we are confident that it will quickly become a vital hub in assisting small business success.
Sina Sartipi of Bank of America then led the audience through a presentation describing the importance of establishing a line of business credit. Mr. Sartipi explained the dangers and pitfalls of using personal accounts to conduct business transactions. By establishing good business credit, small businesses and entrepreneurs will gain quicker access to future capital, will be better protected against fraud and malfeasance, and will be able to use the financial establishment’s reporting services come audit or tax time.
Tracey Lee Davis, owner of ZingPop Social Media, followed up by introducing the criticality of social media for business. She took the audience through a brief but comprehensive tutorial of many different aspects and avenues that socialmedia can provide. From targeted marketing, simple campaigns, and using affordable paid advertising, Ms. Davis explained that a concerted social media strategy is within the realm of every small business and entrepreneur.
The team from Ernst and Young finished the presentations. Carlos Roa explained some of the finer details of creating a strategic roadmap, financial metrics, hiring and staffing, and effective ways to pursue funding and new finance. Omar Valencia then showed the importance of a solid business plan and why a mission/vision statement is important. He also explained techniques to understand potential marketplaces and customers using strength and weakness assessments.
Laura Bravo, volunteer and mentor extraordinaire, finished up the presentations by describing the importance of the mentor and mentee relationship and how that relationship is best fostered. She broke down the role of a mentor as a valuable resource that can guide and foster new relationships, new practices, and generally ease the learning curve of small business owners. Laura has been an integral and invaluable member of many of the Small Business Ignite functions over the years and we are very fortunate to have her in our community.
Following the presentations the audience was invited to meet with the mentors. In round-robin style, the participants had an opportunity to meet and talk with multiple mentors with different expertise. It was inspiring to see some of our community’s fledgling businesses, from nonprofits, aspiring technological endeavors, bakeries, and retail stores availing themselves to the knowledge and resources provided by the mentors.
Feedback from both the mentors and menses was overwhelmingly positive. Misty Castaneda, founder of new nonprofit, For-Purpose Connections, remarked, “being new to the area, Small Business Ignite provides support and mentoring opportunities and resources that I need to be successful in the entrepreneurial space in San Jose.” Rosie, of Don Mateo Foods said, “It was great. There are new ideas about things that we are unfamiliar with.” Anthony Napolitano, mentor and attorney from the Napolitano Law Office, “The diversity of the mentors will support multiple business ideas, as well the diversity of the group will help the group help itself.” He also appreciated the relationship between SBI and the efforts of San Jose City Council to actively promote the event.
This was a wonderful precursor to a summer filled with more Small Business Ignite events and mentoring sessions. With the completion of San Jose Public Library’s Works program and the Small Business Center, these programs will soon be a cornerstone of the vitalization of San Jose’s small business and entrepreneurial endeavors. We at Silicon Valley are overjoyed with the success and impact these programs make and would like to thank all the mentors and organizers. We are extremely excited for the next installation on May 6th of the Small Business Ignite Mentoring sessions at the San Jose City Hall Rotunda. If you’re interested please sign up here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/5th-summit-on-entrepreneurship-and-innovation-tickets-22125751719?aff=SVTP.
Margaret Yamasaki, Senior Librarian, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library
Long Do, Aborn Compounding Pharmacy
Nel Messersmith, Docs and Images
Anthony Napolitano, Napolitano Law Firm
Ping Wang, PWConsulting
Carlos Roa, Ernst and Young
Omar Valencia, Ernst and Young
Laura Bravo, Ernst and Young
Sina Sartipi, Bank of America
Tien Van, Bank of America
Tracey Lee Davis, ZingPop Social Media