For many people starting or scaling a small business, finding the tools needed for success and longevity can be one of the greatest challenges. Funding, mentorship, and entrepreneurial training are important for companies at any stage of growth. To bring together northwest Ohio’s startup community and empower entrepreneurs through the ins and outs of owning their own business, Assets Toledo is providing key guidance and helping business owners find the resources they need to generate success and sustainability.
“We train people to go into business and fulfill their dream in a logical and sustainable manner,” Executive Director Olivia Holden said. “We do that through a 13-week class offered three times a year in January, May, and September. We’ve had more than 3,900 people sign up for our classes, and we’ve helped over 80% of those individuals go into and stay in business. Our mission is to help people help themselves and fulfill themselves and their community by overcoming obstacles.”
Over the course of those 13 weeks, experienced professionals from the community help participants build a strategic plan that serves as a roadmap for the direction of their business. These mentors, many of whom are program alumni or entrepreneurs themselves, provide business counsel, networking referrals, and access to resources, some of which are supported by Ohio Third Frontier, that participants can build into their business plan.
“A lot of people don’t know what’s available to them, so we make it known to them what the city, county, and state have to offer,” Holden said. “We work with organizations such as JumpStart, different banks, and CPAs for networking referrals and resources. Our presenters teach that, in order to have a successful business, there has to be a need that you can solve with your idea or product. If you’re going to start your own business, it’s important to make sure that you know more about it than anything and understand your competition.”
The organization’s classes are designed to help burgeoning and experienced entrepreneurs succeed, but its program has the added domino effect of boosting the local economy and promoting jobs within the Toledo community. By empowering small business owners to take advantage of local business resources and tools, the organization is helping to create more jobs in its own backyard.
“When people expand their business and hire people here in Toledo, they’re giving back to the community,” she said. “They’re building up their own economic development and setting a landmark. It’s incumbent upon our organization to make that difference and help take entrepreneurs one step further every day. We help people believe in themselves and their business.”
For Holden, one of the most fulfilling parts of her work at Assets Toledo is seeing the organization’s impact on participants when they graduate the program with the tools they need to grow and sustain their business. It’s all part of the nonprofit’s collaborative mission to support and train motivated entrepreneurs, while also boosting Ohio’s economic development as a whole.
“When I see someone come in who is like a deer in headlights because they don’t know where to start, and our program helps them become more grounded in their business, that’s why I’m doing this,” she said. “Many of our participants want to leave a legacy through their business, and we can help them find their voice to make important decisions and access opportunities they didn’t know about before.”