Category Archives: Finance

Business Finance: Anywhere, Anytime

As the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) continues to expand our Access to Capital Program we are focused on extending services through direct lending and the development of online/on-demand course offerings.  Whether your business is in the city of Chicago or throughout our nine state Midwest region, we strive to provide your business with a strong financial foundation.

The WBDC’s online/on-demand educational platform will be launched in spring 2013.  Ingage Partners, a Certified WBE company, partnering with TiER1 Performance Solutions has been selected to assist the WBDC in implementing this new system.  The first course, Take the Mystery out of Finance, will be offered in both Spanish and English and cover the basics of finance for your business.  The WBDC selected this course as the launching pad for our online education because we know how important business financial literacy is in running a successful business.

In the interim we have put together a list of useful, easy to use tools to help manage your financials from your computer, tablet or smartphone.  Take a look and let us know which ones you have used.

  1. Wallstreet Journal Excel Shortcuts: Simply put, these cheat sheets
  2.  help navigate running your finances through Excel, particularly useful when utilizing the WBDC’s Financial Projections Excel spreadsheet.
  3. InDinero: Access and manage your books, file your taxes and take care of payroll on multiple devices through a secure connection.  Plus, the company was founded by a woman – Jessica Mah.
  4. Intuit’s GoPayment: Allows you to accept payments anywhere, from anyone with no transaction fees.  Be careful to read the full details, as there are costs associated, but at least the app and cancellation are free.
  5. LightSpeed Retail Inc.: A virtual, portable hub to keep track of sales and inventory, create invoices and print receipts.
  6. MIT Entrepreneurship Open Courses: While this isn’t an app, it is a great resource for free online entrepreneurial education.

What do you use to manage your business finances?  Have you tried any tools that simply do not work?  Let us know!


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Filed under Business, Entrepreneur, Finance, Small Business, Technology, Uncategorized, WBDC, Women in Technology

“Where do I find a grant to start my woman-owned business?”

All too often at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) we hear the question, “Where are the grants for women to start their businesses?” The answer: There are none.  No really, there are none.  If you find a grant for women starting a business, please post the information in the comments below, because in the last 27 years we have yet to see one.

Yes, there are loans for business start-ups, small business competitions with cash prizes and occasionally, you can find grants through Small Business Administration (SBA) non-profit partners, if you are already in business, but you aren’t going to find a grant without showing you have some “skin in the game.”  You need to prove that you are just as invested in your business as investors, grantors or lenders are going to be.  It’s time to get serious and shift your focus from looking for free money to building a solid foundation with a business plan, a thorough analysis of your financials (past personal and projected business) and target market research.

A question was recently posted on PartnerUp regarding the necessity of a traditional business plan.  Some thought they were irrelevant in this day and age of the ever changing business climate, while others saw them as completely necessary.  What do you think? Based on what we’ve seen with clients over the years, the ones that write down their idea into a solid plan and update that plan on a yearly basis have seen the greatest success and continue to sustain a fruitful business.  Plus, when it comes time to look for funding, it’s unlikely you’ll be taken seriously without putting your business in writing.

So what can you do if you’re a start-up looking for funding?  If you’re in Chicago, consider the WBDC Micro Finance Program, a direct lending program where the WBDC, as a core member of the Chicago Microlending Intitute (CMI), is making loans for Chicago business owners seeking additional support.  Plus, the WBDC provides a free webinar, Take the Mystery out of Finance, every month, and below is the most recent recording of the presentation, which covers crowdfunding and more. Watch it, take notes, and if you have questions ask us at

In two weeks, we’ll discuss more about furthering your education as a business owner when it comes to finance.  In the meantime, take time to become educated on financial resources available for you.  Here are just a few more, besides WBDC, to take a look at:

  1. Accion
  2. SBA
  3. FunderHut
  4. Family and friends

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Filed under Business Start-up, Established Business, Finance, SBA, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Entrepreneurial Growth Powered by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

Insights on the inaugural Chicago program from three cohort members as told to the Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) Bethany Hartley


Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a $500 million national investment to help small businesses in the United States create jobs and economic growth by providing entrepreneurs with a practical business education, access to capital and business support services.” – Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Greater Chicago Fact Sheet.

With sixteen years in business, Total Event Resources has established itself as a WBE certified, award winning meeting and event production agency providing services throughout the nation.  Kathy Miller, president of Total Event Resources, heard about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at the WBDC 25th Anniversary Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference.

 “It was at the September WBDC conference that I was introduced to the 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative through Mayor Emanuel’s speech, then watching the video and finally walking the trade show floor where I believe the stars aligned.  A woman that was in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses booth promoting the program stopped me as I was walking through the trade show to ask me if I knew anything about this program, to which my reply was, ‘Yes, as a matter of fact, I just heard the Mayor talk about it and saw the video, it sounds intriguing.’”

Kathy explains highlights of the program in detail:

“We meet as our full class, and we have a small group within that class.  It is extremely interactive and engaging – this is not a lecture hall where we sit and take notes.  We are fully engaged in rolling up our sleeves and working together and sometimes independently on our business. No two sessions have been the same, there have been some amazing business professionals that have been brought to us in the form of a panel discussion and the involvement of Goldman Sachs, the City Colleges of Chicago, Babson College, the Mayor’s Office, the 10,000 Small Businesses Partners and the local business community.”

In February 2009, Navjot Bajwa started Ocean Mist Inc., a certified WBE/MBE/DBE trucking company operating throughout the Chicagoland area. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program has been most beneficial in preparations for the future of her company.

“This program is preparing me to take my company to the next level and giving me skills, tools, resources and strategies for that.  It has all the tools you need to grow your business.”

Navjot has taken away financial guidance and much more to use beyond the classroom.

“We are participants in the program with the same dreams and challenges.  Everybody is very helpful and concerned and I found a supportive group of friends through this program.  The best thing I like about the sessions is you never get bored or tired and every session gives you so much confidence!”

Joanna Sobran is president of MXOTech, a six year old WBE certified company that focuses on offering expertise in both application development and network system design and management.  Joanna provided insight into the 10,000 Small Businesses initial session in our January AWB article and has continued to share her experience so far.  Like Kathy and Navjot, Joanna also has taken away important financial guidance:

“Understanding the financials better has been instrumental to ask the right questions of myself and my team.  This has already changed many aspects of our business and given us focus on services that are more profitable.”

Words of advice for those thinking about applying:

“The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program is an amazing opportunity to help a small and even mid-size business owner realize focus and vision for their business.  Whether you have been in business for a long time and need a face lift or are just starting out, this is a terrific program.  You will learn about sales, marketing, finance, being ‘bankable’ and possessing true leadership skills.  Best of all, you will met many amazing entrepreneurs where you can share your stories and exchange ideas to help you grow.”

Kathy echoes Joanna’s advice on applying to the program:

Apply, don’t procrastinate, it is one of the best business decisions I have ever made!  Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses has made a huge investment in the future of small businesses and the 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative is an incredible program.”

If you’re looking for this type of intensive, interactive and practical business education, we encourage you to apply for the next Chicago cohort of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.  Applications are being accepted now.


Filed under Business, Business Leaders, Business Start-up, Entrepreneur, Established Business, Finance, Goldman Sachs, Small Business, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

WBDC: 3 Most Important Rules to Reduce Your Taxes

Tom Copeland, nationally recognized expert on the business side of child care, discusses the 3 most important rules to reduce taxes for your child care business in the video below. The WBDC is excited to welcome Tom as the Keynote Speaker at the 14th Annual Child Care Business Expo on June 2, 2012 in Chicago, IL.   For more information about the Expo, please click here.

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Filed under Business, Child Care, Entrepreneur, Established Business, Finance, Tom Copeland, Uncategorized, WBDC, Women Business Owner

Investing in Contracts – An Infographic

Join the WBDC May 3rd, 2012 at the East Bank Club in Chicago for American Express OPEN Victory in Procurement Event.

Learn more and register here.

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Filed under American Express, Business, Business Leaders, Entrepreneur, Established Business, Finance, Marketing, Procurement, Special Events, Uncategorized, WBDC, WBDC News, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Small Business Getting a Boost in Chicago – Compliments of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

For those of you following this blog, you know that the WBDC is a proud partner of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in Chicago.  As the first cohort of program participants heads toward graduation, we’ve heard incredible feedback about their experiences.  The business education is highly interactive and engaging, equipping business owners with the tools to take their business to the next level.  Key areas of education include:

–          Understanding business financials

–          Creating sales and marketing strategies

–          Becoming a “bankable” business

–          Developing true leadership skills

Additionally, through this program you have the opportunity to interact with other business owners looking to learn and enrich their businesses.  So not only will you be gaining valuable lessons on business from top business educators, you will also be networking with key connections in the Chicago area!

Are you:

  1. A business poised for growth?
  2. Committed to growing your business and creating jobs?
  3. Having a business model that could scale to create more jobs?
  4. Seeking practical business and management education, access to capital and business support services?

If you answered yes to all these questions, then you should APPLY for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program today!

For more information on specific eligibility requirements and to hear from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program representatives, attend one of the WBDC’s informational events March 20th at Illinois Institute of Technology or March 21st at the WBDC.

Mayor Emanuel visits with 10000 Small Business scholars

This great opportunity is offered in Chicago by partner organizations including the WBDC, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chicago Urban League and Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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Filed under Business, Business Leaders, Entrepreneur, Established Business, Finance, Marketing, Procurement, Small Business, Special Events, WBDC, WBDC News, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Notes on the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership inaugural meeting

Tuesday morning, January 24, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted the inaugural meeting for the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership.  Members were invited by Secretary Clinton and include leaders of American and foreign public and private sector organizations.

For those that could not watch the live broadcasting, WBDC marketing assistant, Bethany Hartley has provided some notes from the meeting’s discussion.

First, what is the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership?

“The Secretary of State’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership (ICWBL) serves the United States Government in a solely advisory capacity concerning major issues and problems in international business and economic policy, including the effective integration of business interests and women’s economic empowerment into overall foreign policy; the role and limits of international economic institutions from a gender-specific perspective; and the Department of State’s role in advancing and promoting the role of women in a competitive global economy.”

-from the Secretary of State website

Objective for the meeting:

“What are the ideas that we can promote that can help women be able to fulfill their own potential. How do we widen that circle of prosperity which will lift the entire global economy – women and men alike – and how do we, within our own organizations, do more to train and promote women to positions of leadership?”  Secretary Clinton

The meeting targeted issues currently impacting countries around the world.  Hot topics included:

  1. Child Care Options
    For Sweden’s Maud Olofsson one of the main problems hindering financial growth and business leadership for women is the lack of child care options available to women.  By sharing parenting duties between parents and allowing for child care to be more easily accessible and financially feasible, women would not be derailed from their career.  South Africa’s Wend Luhabe affirmed these challenges.
  2. Insurance Offerings for Women
    South Africa’s Wendy Luhabe also raised the issue of insurance offerings for women.  It is Luhabe’s belief that women are not covered nearly enough, stating examples of families being destroyed from having to repay medical bills when children fall sick and a need for further coverage for women when a divorce takes place.
  3. Building Wealth Through Sustainable Credit and Grassroots Programming
    India’s Meera Sanyal discussed how there is no overt gender discrimination in India, yet constantly changing policies for credit cause confusion.  There is a need for basic savings methods because if women keep the money in their home they will spend it on their family.Jamaica’s M. Audrey Hinchcliffe discussed her country’s problem being that of a small, wealthy few control the less fortunate larger population.  It’s a pyramid that needs to be altered by implementing programs to provide training and financial assistance to the large base and thus creating a more stable economic standing for the whole country.
  4. Innovative Program Models
    Wanda Engel, Executive President, Unibanco Institute, discussed Brazil’s Bolsa Familia program where funding is provided for families with children as long as children are attending school on a consistent basis.  Brazil has a high number of uneducated people which creates a poor economic situation.  With this program, children are becoming educated and potentially able to achieve a higher economic standing than their parents through professional work.  Many of the other countries representatives at the meeting expressed interest in adapting the Bolsa Familia program in their homelands.
  5. Women on Boards – About 3% of United States CEOs are women

“One fact is already clear, including more women at the top of organizations, businesses and the public sector- it’s not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.  It’s good for business, it’s good for results” –Secretary Clinton

Overall, the meeting was inspiring and thought provoking.  Essential topics were discussed including access to capital, women helping women and getting more business education out there to promote women in leadership roles.  These are all issues we look at every day at the WBDC and the reason we continue to provide the support we do for women.

What do you think?  Did you watch the meeting?  What would you ask the members?  Most importantly, do you think anything will come of this council?

Supplemental Links:

Cherie Booth Blair’s foundation: MWomen Initiative

Secretary Clinton’s September speech at APEC

List of Members: ICWBL Council Members

Introduction of Meeting: Secretary Clinton

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Filed under Business, Business Leaders, Child Care, Entrepreneur, Finance, SBA, Secretary of State, Small Business, Special Events, Uncategorized, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

The Business Behind Child Care

The WBDC offers a Child Care Business Program (CCBP) unlike any other.  You already love children, now we can teach you the business side of child care.  You learn solid, tangible skills to build a foundation for a prosperous business, and all of the CCBP options are available in both English and Spanish.

How can the WBDC CCBP help you?

  1. Training: Between workshops, seminars and conferences we equip you with marketing, financial and other business skills.
  • If you’re just starting out, take 10 weeks to learn how to launch and sustain a successful home or center-based child care business. Sign up now for the next workshop series!
  • Workshops are also available for established business owners looking to understand the Business Administration Scale Program and other advanced business topics.

2. Counseling: Our professional team of business counselors provide free individual and group counseling

3. Networking Opportunities: Our Child Care Business Expo is an annual event providing a platform for all levels of child care providers to network with other child care providers, hear from industry professionals, including  Tom Copeland, and connect with suppliers to meet your purchasing needs.

Don’t miss these opportunities to grow your skills on the business side of child care. Take it from Allison Perkins, WBDC client and owner of Allison’s Infant and Toddler Center,

“It’s not what people think it will be.  As the administrator you make sure the children are able to have the experiences they need.  Make sure you’ve done your research and have a solid business plan.”

Read more about Allison’s story of successful business ownership here.  Whether you’re thinking about starting as a home-based business or leasing a space for your child care center, the CCBP provides you with information about all your options.

Tools for you:

  1. Child Care Business Plan Template
  2. Sample Revenue Assumptions
  3. Sample Start Up Budget

Want more information about the program or have questions about the CCBP?  Contact Janice at

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Filed under Business, Business Start-up, Child Care, Entrepreneur, Established Business, Finance, Marketing, Small Business, Uncategorized, WBDC, Women Business Owner

Focus on Finance Part 2: Three Things Lenders Are Looking For

Eva Brown is the Director of the Access to Capital Program at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC).  She provides financial business counseling and training to WBDC clients, including a monthly workshop titled “Take the Mystery out of Finance.” The next workshop will be held January 17,, 2012.   In Part 2, Eva discusses: “What Are the Top Three Things Lenders Look For?”  She briefly outlines the importance of cash flow, credit scores and collateral for potential entrepreneurs.  What other small business finance questions would you like Eva to answer?

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Filed under Business, Finance, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Focus on Finance Part 1: Debt vs. Equity

Eva Brown is the Director of the Access to Capital Program at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC).  She provides financial business counseling and training to WBDC clients, including a monthly workshop titled “Take the Mystery out of Finance.” The next workshop will be held January 17,, 2012.  In Part 1: Debt vs. Equity of our two part video series on Finance, Eva discusses the differences and similarities between debt and equity.  The information provides a clear explanation of what can sometimes be a difficult topic for business owners. Next week, in part two of the finance video series, Eva will discuss the top three things lenders are looking for when determining eligibility for loans.  What other small business finance questions would you like Eva to answer?

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Filed under Finance, Small Business, Uncategorized, WBDC