Course steers entrepreneurs in right business direction

Ida Fogle knew that she needed to expand her knowledge of starting a business.

FogleThat’s why she participated in the City of Little Rock’s spring Entrepreneurial Training Course, offered by the city’s Small Business Development Office in partnership with the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at UALR.

Fogle and 14 others recently completed the 10-week training, the 25th to be offered to area entrepreneurs who want to learn more about starting and managing a business as well as developing a business plan.

“We had a property management company, but we didn’t do it properly,” Fogle said. “It was tiring coming [for training] after work, but it was worth it to be successful.”

Motivated by her daughter’s complaints about school vending machines full of junk food, Fogle plans to operate a vending company with machines that stock only healthy snacks.

She is targeting medical offices, health clubs, and schools as potential locations. Fogle has purchased machines but has not yet incorporated her vending service.

Since 2001, 503 people have taken the course, according to Odies Wilson III of the City of Little Rock Small Business Development Office.

“This is about creating entrepreneurs, people who were job holders becoming job creators and passing on that entrepreneurial spirit to others,” Wilson said.

Participants attended three-hour class sessions led by business consultant Rudy Ortiz, who also met one-on-one with each student to address specific business or business ideas.

“The combination of the class instruction, personal study and individual consultations is the ‘secret sauce’ to this program’s success,” said Ortiz.

Another course graduate is already in business. Stephen Booth owns Asher Dairy Bar with his wife. They bought the restaurant two years ago.

“It was a total accident. We planned to do a burger truck and serve ice cream. While I was doing research, I went to Asher Dairy Bar and saw it was for sale,” he said.

Booth said what he learned in the course will lead to changes in his business. “We’re going to do some things different,” he said. “I have taken a lot of entrepreneurship classes, and this by far is the best one.”

Another participant was fashion designer Shamirra Clark, who was voted “Most Likely to Make a Million” by her classmates.

She plans to move forward with an online store to sell her clothing line, Richie Clark Clothing. Clark said the course taught her about taxes, how to organize her business, and how to market her products.

“Rudy is so helpful, so honest,” she said. “You need someone to tell you the hard truth.”

The course will be offered again in the fall. Classes are held at the Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center on 12th Street in Little Rock. Contact the City of Little Rock Small Business Development Office at 501.379.1505 for more information.

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