Entrepreneurs of the Year

On Wednesday, October 7th, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center will be honoring three graduates of Renaissance’s 14-week Business Planning class at their annual gala. The award winners are exemplary business owners who have minimized personal risks and were motivated to plan carefully in order to launch successful small businesses. It has been a pleasure to teach them, provide one-on-one support when needed, and watch their progress as they establish their businesses and positively impact their community.

Established Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Wendy Lieu, owner of Socola Chocolatier, had already been operating her chocolate business part-time with her sister for many years when she took the Business Planning class in 2012. With the business skills and confidence she gained in the class, she  was ready to take the business to the next level.  In early 2014 Wendy and her sister Susan opened their retail shop on Folsom Street in San Francisco. They now employ five people and also have a thriving wholesale business!

Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Antoinette Sanchez, owner of Endless Summer Sweets, was a long-time Renaissance employee who worked with me to coordinate the Business Planning Class at Renaissance SoMA. She took all the Renaissance classes, received access to financing support from Gwendolyn Wright of The Wright Consultants, and studied with La Cocina. She left Renaissance two years ago to focus full-time on bringing funnel cakes and kettle corn to parties, events and street festivals all over the Bay. She will soon open her own store on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley!

Angela Cain Memorial Award

A graduate of the Business Planning class and a long-time Renaissance business incubator tenant, Brigette Renee LeBlanc, owner of LeBlanc and Associates, LLC has used all her training, support and referrals to develop her own business providing full-service event consulting to Bay Area clients.

These three women were committed students, wrote great business plans and took what they learned and applied it to their businesses. We are so proud of them and what they have accomplished. Please join me in congratulating these amazing small business owners!

Join Renaissance at City View Metreon on Wednesday October 7 at 5:30pm to honor the Entrepreneurs of the Year and enjoy the Renaissance pop-up café, dessert bar and marketplace. Many  Business Planning Class graduates will be in attendance. Many graduates have generously donated their products and services to the auction, including Heidi Gibson of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, Seán Patrick of Calibur, Gail Lillian of Liba Falafel, Nick Hormuth of Pedal Inn Bike Tours and Provisions, and Steve Fox of Urban Putt. We invite you to attend the Gala, reconnect with business colleagues, and enjoy the program plus networking, food and music!

Small Businesses Giving Back

Since small businesses are so well connected with their communities, they are in a position to do a lot of good! Giving back doesn’t have to mean a large financial outlay or donating hours and hours of your time. By connecting how you give (and to whom) with your interests, skills, services or products, you can contribute in a meaningful way and have a large impact.

giving back

Here are some ways that you can contribute – and some San Francisco Bay Area business owners who are doing just that!

Mentor other small business owners

There is a strong possibility that your success is due in part to the people that helped you along the way. You, too, can help others be successful. Do you have business expertise that could be valuable to someone either inside or outside your industry? Heidi Gibson, owner of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen has made mentorship a priority. She offers internships to new food entrepreneurs and volunteers her time to help small business entrepreneurs in Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center’s Business Planning Class with their business financials.

Organize a volunteer day for your employees

This can foster increased engagement and team-buildinghelp and also boost employee morale. You don’t have to have employees to volunteer. My volunteer experience with fellow Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association members at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank was a fun bonding activity for our local merchants association.

 giving back

Share your knowledge/skills with local organizations

Create a partnership with a local organization that is in alliance with your business and offer your expertise. Avital Food Tours offers unique culinary adventures in the Mission District, the Haight Ashbury, North Beach and Union Square. Owner Avital Ungar volunteers with the Legacy Bars and Restaurants Project run by SF Heritage. She has helped train tour guides for SF Heritage’s Haas-Lilienthal House and organized a pop-up speakeasy to raise money for the Project.

Create customer incentives

Commit to donating a certain percentage of each sale to an organization, offer discounts to customers who support particular causes, or create a contest to encourage customers to engage. Shivani Ganguly, owner of Bom Dia Market in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood supports the non-profit Kitchen Table Advisors. In February, she supported them by donating all proceeds from the sale of prepared foods on one day.

Donate products

Donating products or giving away samples at events can be a great way to reach new customers and support a cause that you believe in. Claire Keene of Clairesquares frequently donates delicious products to support organizations doing good work. She recently donated her treats to a silent auction supporting Techbridge, an organization that inspires girls to discover a passion for technology, science and engineering.

Donate to organizations in line with your values

Supporting organizations that you believe in shows your customers your business’ values. Keith Goldstein, founder of Everest Waterproofing and Restoration Inc. is committed to donating a minimum of 10% of pre-tax profits to charitable organizations, both local and international, He also sponsors Tibetan refugees for jobs, helping them create new lives for themselves and their families in the United States. Neal Gottlieb, founder of Three Twins Ice Cream launched an initiative called Ice Cream for Acres. Three Twins donates money to land preservation efforts every time they sell a cup or pint of ice cream.

Join a non-profit board

Ken Stram, owner of 2Bridge Communications is a board member of the Golden Gate Business Association, the city’s LGBT chamber of commerce. “I’m a bit introverted,” he says, “so being a board member gets me out of the office and keeps me engaged with the LGBT small business community. The board experience is sharpening my leadership and collaboration skills, too. The experience is also good for business—it positions me as a leader and puts me in front of an important audience on a regular basis.” The Volunteer Center helps to match Bay Area non-profits with individuals looking to give back and get involved at a deeper level. Check out their Board Match events.

A Circle of Giving

Your small business can also get a lot in return by giving. The causes and organizations you support will differentiate your business from competitors and can strengthen your ties to customers and clients. Giving back to your community can increase your visibility, increase customer or client loyalty and also increase employee morale. There is no reason NOT to give, and there are so many ways to make an impact!

How do YOU give back? Who are the small business owners that you know who are making a difference?

Aunt Ann’s Sustains

It was a pleasure to see the Collins family recognized with an award on May 27th from USF’s Gellert Family Business Resource Center. (I was honored to help present the award to the Collins sisters).

Denise and Sue Collins are the third generation of Collins women to own and manage Aunt Ann’s In-House Staffing …and their 91-year-old mother is still connected to the business!

 family business award

Denise was a student of mine at Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center  in 1988 and Aunt Ann’s has been a PTA client over the years. Aunt Ann’s has been in operation almost 60 years, and over that time they have placed nannies, housekeepers, chefs, estate managers, personal assistants, gardeners, etc. in over 100,000 jobs. Quite an accomplishment and a great example of a sustainable and long-lasting family business!

In addition to the honor of the award, Aunt Ann’s will receive support and resources from the Gellert Family Business Resource Center to help strengthen various aspects of the business. Congratulations Aunt Ann’s! Here’s to another 60 years and beyond.

Are YOU a part of a family business? Be sure to register for the 2015 Family Business Conference on June 10th at the University of San Francisco. This networking breakfast and workshop will include perspectives from industry experts and family business owners on succession planning and the other key issues affecting family-owned businesses.

Small Business Week!

small business week

Don’t miss it! Small Business Week begins and ends with Sidewalk Sales in 20 neighborhoods throughout the city, Saturday, May 16th and Saturday, May 23rd.

The kick-off event on Monday night, May 18th is not to be missed (tickets mandatory, but only $20). Flavors of San Francisco is a great opportunity to network with small business owners and small business resource organizations and eat delicious food from San Francisco restaurants. (Other mixers are taking place throughout the week, too.)

Friday, May 22nd will be the heart of it all — the Small Business Conference includes over 50 workshops jam-packed with info on a variety of topics relevant to small business. (Workshops are FREE but space is limited.)

Please participate!  Small Business Week is a great opportunity to network, gather good information and celebrate the small business community in San Francisco!

I’m proud to see Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center graduates featured on the Small Business Week website: Pinkie’s Bakery, Frisco Fried, Socola Chocolatier and Van Meter Williams Pollack.

small business week

Small Business Week is here!

san francisco small business week

It is going to be a big week for small business in San Francisco. Small Business Week 2014 kicked off this morning with a gathering at Twitter headquarters with speeches from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.  There were also speakers from Twitter, Kiva and local businesses discussing the impact of social media on small business. Tonight’s gala, Flavors of San Francisco, will be a chance to mingle with over 1,200 small business owners and community leaders (and it’s already sold out).

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are packed with workshops TED-style talks for entrepreneurs on a variety of topics, including identifying your target market, running your business in the cloud, accessing capital for growth, and business law. Check out the schedule and sign up for workshops – they are free but space is limited!

As a part of Small Business Week, I was interviewed by my colleague Ken Stram of 2Bridge Communications for the Small Business Week SF YouTube channel. I was asked to comment on staying in business for the long-term, and you can check it out here.

Small business has a tremendous impact on our neighborhoods, city and our local economy. There are over 80,000 small businesses and start-ups in San Francisco and small businesses create two out of every three jobs.  Check out Small Business Week 2014 and share what you learn!

Honoring an influential institution

Last Thursday night, May 1st, Small Business Network San Francisco (SBN) celebrated its 30th anniversary and recognized six small business organizations and individuals during an awards ceremony at the Marines’ Memorial Club of San Francisco. One of the winners was long-time PTA client Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, recognized with the Influential Organization Award. Renaissance’s mission is to empower and increase the entrepreneurial capacities of socially and economically diverse women and men to help create sustainable new businesses and new jobs and promote financial self-sufficiency. The SBN award was accepted by Renaissance Managing Director, Lisa Kirvin.

renaissance entrepreneurship center

It has been my pleasure to help design services and provide training, consulting and support to Renaissance students and graduates over the past twenty+ years. As the coordinator and lead instructor for Renaissance’s 14-week business planning class in San Francisco, I know first-hand how Renaissance helps support so many Bay Area small businesses each year. Congratulations Renaissance!

(I was honored to receive SBN’s Small Business Advocate Award last year.)

It’s not too late to shop local

There is less than a week until Christmas! Are you still trying to find the perfect gift for your Secret Santa? When it comes to holiday shopping, I tend to leave things to the last minute. It’s NOT procrastination. I actually enjoy shopping during the week before Christmas. I like getting out into the neighborhood, visiting independently owned shops, and enjoying the festive (and sometimes frantic) mood on the street.

shop local

There are many reasons to support locally owned businesses and you can do some of your shopping right from home…even from small and micro businesses. I love supporting PTA colleagues, clients and entrepreneurship students when I shop – these are local business owners who sell great products and services, operate with integrity, and provide excellent customer service.

Here are a few local gift ideas from my list:

Since my first small business was a food business (the cheese store Cheshire Cheese) and my next small business was a café (Mad Hatter Tea), my gift-giving always includes food… either homemade or locally bought. We are blessed in San Francisco to be surrounded by small businesses making amazing food. How about a box of chocolates from Socola Chocolatiers or Belinda Chocolates, a jam club membership or jam cookbook from Blue Chair Fruit Company, tea from T-We Tea, or plum pudding with brandy butter from Clairsquares? The possibilities are endless.

So, support your local businesses this season and let’s keep our holiday dollars in the local economy. Hit the streets (or go online) and share in the good feeling that your support will bring to local small businesses this year.

In the Neighborhood

Every year most neighborhoods in San Francisco celebrate their uniqueness with a block party, a festival or a street fair. It is a safe and happy time for residents and local businesses to come together in the “center of town” and hear music, meet neighbors, sign up for nursery schools, discuss political campaigns and just feel involved and connected with others in the “hood”. (You know what I mean if you have ever attended one.)


poster by local artist Peter Linenthal

The Festival on Potrero Hill was like that for many of us. Daniel Webster School organized the play areas, face painting and the petting zoo, Goat Hill Pizza (and its active owner Phillip DeAndrade) sold great pizzas, Andy and Olia from Skool Restaurant had food for everyone who came by, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue was breaking hearts with their sweet dogs for adoption, and Lester and Kayren, owners of The Good Life Grocery set up a “farmers’ market” in front of their store with a large tent that created welcome shade.

As a board member of the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association, I had fun “working” the PDMA table — handing out the Association’s new directory of over 160 active business members, and talking with local small business owners and residents about PDMA’s role in the neighborhood. It was great, as always, to see Supervisor Malia Cohen, (a past student of mine at Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center) in attendance and actively involved in the issues relevant to the neighborhood and her District 10 constituents.

Congratulations to Keith Goldstein and his volunteers for creating and managing such a great event – every year – all to benefit the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House.




Yoga and Small Business Week

It was San Francisco Small Business Week this past week and the city was full of entrepreneurial energy.

small business week conference

With Renaissance’s Lisa Kirvin at Flavors of San Francisco

At the kick-off celebration, Flavors of San Francisco, last Monday the Cityview Room of the Metreon was filled with great food from over 30 San Francisco restaurants and catering companies. The room was packed with small business owners and supporters. I got a chance to connect and catch up with Mark Quinn from SBA, Gwen Kaplan of Ace Mailing, PTA Associates Ken Stram and Monika Hudson, and Lisa Kirvin from Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center.

On Wednesday, as part of the Small Business Conference at San Francisco State, I gave a workshop on Business Planning 101+ to a crowd of about 100 people. Things got off to a rocky start. (There always has to be a tech problem, right?) The PowerPoint presentation wouldn’t work so I got everyone on their feet for a little yoga… and a chance to get to know each other. Then, with a some help from the SBW tech staff and Renaissance’s Executive Director Sharon Miller, we got back on track.

small business week conference

Back on track after technical difficulties

I focused my talk on the basics of business planning and eight critical success factors for a small business launch (more on that soon). I also shared student stories from Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center’s 14-week business planning class, including Neil Gottlieb of Three Twins Ice Cream, Judi Henderson-Townsend of Mannequin Madness, Zel Anders of Tomboy Tailors and Lori Shannon of See Jane Run.

The room was full of people with small business ideas eager to take their business concepts to the next level. It was fun to share stories and help motivate them to take the leap of faith into small business ownership. The point is to s-t-r-e-t-c-h, focus, and make it happen!

Advocating for Small Business

advocatingOn Thursday May 9th a very happy crowd gathered at the Marine’s Memorial Club in San Francisco for the Small Business Network’s Annual Awards Gala. Mayor Ed Lee was there at the start to welcome us all and emphasize his support for many new small business initiatives in the city.

I was honored to be one of the nine award winners, receiving the Small Business Advocate Award for my role as a small business owner and my involvement in the small business community for the past 30+ years. My business friend and long-term client, Kayren Hudiburgh, co-owner of The Good Life Grocery, was kind enough to introduce me and relate all the many years of our work together, both on her business and in the Potrero and Bernal Heights communities.

I got my start by owning and selling four businesses—a wholesale distribution company, two retail food businesses and a training seminar business. I then founded Paul Terry & Associates to help others start and manage their own small businesses. I see my role as an advocate—encouraging and supporting the passion and commitment of small business owners while providing tools and advice to create a sound foundation for success. I love working with business owners at every stage—teaching business planning to entrepreneurs getting ready to launch their businesses, and working with established small business clients through all stages of their business growth.

I have benefited greatly from wonderful mentors, loyal colleagues and supportive organizations and I enjoy doing everything I can to support the local small business community, particularly working with Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center and business associations such as the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association and the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity. For me, community service and advocacy is simply a part of what it means to be a socially responsible small business owner.