In California, businesses with five or fewer employees account for 88% of all businesses. Local nonprofit Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) provides the training and support local women and men need to start or grow their business right here in Ventura County.
WEV’s core 14-week Self-Employment Training course is targeted to women (also serves men), and provides guidance on how to start, operate or expand a business. The program provides week-by-week training in organizing, financing, marketing and managing a small business. “Graduates” leave the course with a business plan including marketing plan, cash flow projection, and operations plan, the most important tools they need and a new network of support to help sustain the business.
There are now more than 1,000 businesses throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties owned and operated by graduates of WEV’s Self-Employment Training program or recipients of small business loans through WEV.
Local pet grooming business Dapper Dog and Cat Grooming is just one of the many successes WEV clients have to share.
After working for 27 years in another industry and surviving a bout with cancer, Nancy Wagoner decided she wanted to start over and do something more satisfying and more fun.
When a local pet grooming shop came on the market, Nancy knew it was for her. She took over the 14 year old business in 2007 and started building it up from a distressed condition. When business at Dapper Dog started picking up, and she realized she didn’t have the equipment to keep up the pace, she applied to WEV for a loan, and gained the training she needed through the Self-Employment Training course. Nancy is still growing and has achieved a loyal following with her customers (and a ‘kitten kaboodle’ of four-legged best friends!).
Nancy reflects on one of the more surprising measures of her success, “The biggest reward that I get from my business is when customers bring in the dog, and say ‘Can you help us?’ And when they come back, this dog has just been turned into this amazing, beautiful little dog. It’s so neat to have people come up to you in the community and say, ‘We just love you.’ And I just love that.”
Nancy credits Women’s Economic Ventures with the training and support she needed to succeed, “WEV gave me an opportunity to go for my dream.”
In October, WEV will also launch a new program called Business Plan Intensive, an accelerated, six-week business plan writing course.
WEV’s Self-Employment Training course and Business Plan Intensive are part of the continuum of programs WEV offers to help women start-up, launch, grow, and sustain their own business