SBA Financing and Business Advising Help Start-Up Launch Dream Business
October is National Women’s Small Business Month. It’s our time to celebrate the myriad achievements of our nation’s female entrepreneurs and the positive impact they’re making on jobs and the economy.
When you have a passion for something and persistence, it makes little difference how many detours life throws in your way. Eventually, you find the right road, much like entrepreneurs Andrea Carter and Terryl Daluz did.
When they were young, Andrea and Terryl both aspired to be veterinarians. Family tragedy and life’s twists and turns diverted them from their pet-friendly vocations, but last year opportunity popped up on a corner in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sylmar.
“We were driving all the way to Burbank to get our three dogs groomed and noticed the construction of a new strip mall close to our home,” recalled Terryl. “Andrea had always dreamed of owning her own dog grooming business and there wasn’t one in our immediate community.”
Recognizing and Seizing An Opportunity to Start a New Business
Excited about providing a convenient, high-quality grooming business for dog owners in their area, Andrea and Terryl decided to open Wash My Dog last year in the mall they had spotted at the corner of Foothill Blvd. and Osborne St.
Andrea and Terryl had some of their own savings to invest in their new small business, but still needed additional funding to purchase grooming equipment and supplies as well as complete the build-out of the Wash My Dog retail space. Initially, they reached out to a City of Los Angeles BusinessSource Center, where a consultant referred them to the SBA-financing nonprofit CDC Small Business Finance.
Once in touch with CDC Small Business Finance, the two partners were connected with experts in the Business Advising Services (BAS) department, who help potential borrowers develop business plans and revenue and expense projections en route to maximizing their chance of getting a loan.
Business Advising Expertise Clarifies the Challenges
“We first listened and asked a lot of questions about Andrea’s and Terryl’s plans for the business and what level of sales they thought they could achieve each month,” said Marsel Watts, senior business advisor with BAS. “Then we researched industry benchmarks for their area and fine-tuned their numbers to recommend a realistic loan amount that would help them grow their business.”
When all was said and done, CDC Small Business Finance approved an SBA Microloan to help Andrea and Terryl launch Wash My Dog. In addition to covering the start-up costs to open the business, the financing allowed the partners to refinance high-interest credit card debt.
Overcoming the Pandemic Blues
Eleven months into the life of Wash My Dog – almost seven “dog years” – the COVID 19 pandemic descended on small businesses. To help make ends meet and continue to employ their four employees, Andrea and Terryl returned to CDC Small Business Finance to apply for a SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan, which they used to help retain their employees.
While the pandemic has crippled many small businesses, it’s been a shot in the arm for others, including dog grooming salons.
“It’s been a blessing for our business and the animals we care for,” admitted Andrea. “With the pandemic, as more people stayed home, they began to pay more attention to their dogs and seek professional grooming services like ours.”
With glowing reviews on social media, Wash My Dog attracted dozens of new customers seeking baths and haircuts for their dogs and even cats. Andrea and Terryl’s small-dog daycare service also enjoyed a boost in business.
One of the most talked about features of Wash My Dog’s service is what its owners call “The Grand Reveal,” the climactic moment at the conclusion of being coiffed when dogs are led behind a curtain with their owners on the other side. The curtain parts and owners get a dramatic, fresh look at their beloved, transformed pups.
“It’s a moment that always brings smiles and tears of joys,” said Andrea. “It’s become our brand point of difference, our icing on the cake.”
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