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The Desire to “Be Better” and Navigating the Pitfalls of Small Business

Photo: Courtesy of the Small Business Administration

Denita Conway turned to the U.S. Small Business Administration for help, and a decade later she now has a successful business with more than 60 employees, and she has even started a foundation to offer mentorship, training and financial assistance to single mothers. This year, she was recognized as the District of Columbia’s Small Business Person of the Year.

The SBA helps power the American Dream, and Conway’s story is a perfect example of how that happens. The SBA helps small business owners start, grow and expand. Special programs and outreach ensure minority entrepreneurs like Conway have access to capital, counseling, training and the right expertise for each stage of the business lifecycle.

According to the latest data from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, the United States has 8 million minority-owned small businesses — a 38 percent growth between 2007 and 2012. They generate $1.4 trillion in annual receipts and employ 7.1 million workers. These successes not only help entrepreneurs secure a brighter future for themselves and their families, they make their neighborhoods vibrant places to live and work and inspire others to succeed.

As a minority-owned business, Conway’s company grew with resources from the SBA. She got funding through an SBA-guaranteed loan. She got counseling through the Emerging Leaders program. And she was certified by the SBA certification program to sell her services to the federal government. Conway generated nearly $5 million in contract revenues — a 50 percent increase in just a few years – as an economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business through the SBA’s 8(a) certification program and as a business operating in and employing people in a historically underutilized business zone through the HUBZone program.

Denita Conway says she was motivated to start her business by a desire to “be better.”

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