None of this surprises Roderick Wallace, the director of the DeKalb Microenterprise Institute.
Wallace says that some of the employees who have been downsized, right sized or just laid off have started businesses or are considering going into business.
Some of the smart ones turn to the DMI for help.
The institute, which launched in 2004, is managed by the DeKalb Enterprise Business Corporation (DEBCO) offerings aspiring and new business owners a 12-week training program that includes writing a business plan, financial management, conquering credit challenges, managing cash flow for a profitable and accessing capital for expansion.
Wallace and two of DMI’s graduates – Terri Waller, owner and founder of The Benson Mills Group, and Lisa Wright, principal of Lisa Wright, CPA – who have parlayed their training into successful businesses, will participate on the “Is This the Right Time for Entrepreneurship” panel at the 2012 Best of East Metro Small Business Expo at the Mall at Stonecrest on April 28.
They will discuss some of the opportunities for entrepreneurs in DeKalb County and speak of their experiences with microenterprise institute.
The three will be on the Main Stage in front of Sears on the mall’s lower level at 3 p.m. During the discussion they will take questions from the audience.
Wallace said now is as good a time as any to go into business.
“One of the greatest time to consider entrepreneurship is in a downturn economy,” he said. “People have to be resourceful and many find that there is a service, an idea or a hobby that launch into a business.”
More than 70 percent of DMI’s clients are women.
Wallace said that is not deliberate, but that women are more inclines to explore their options.
“Mothers and wives have to multi-task and they have good skill set to leverage into entrepreneurship,” he said.
Participant run the age gamut but Wallace says he has seen an uptick in the 35-plus year-old group
Waller, who launched her food safety company in 2006, said that even though she wasn’t a new business owner, she needed help to take her company to the next level. She discovered the niche for her company while working for a number of fast food restaurants.
When her SBDC pointed her to DMI, she jumped at it.
“It was small business 101,” she said. “It was a good foundation and I met small business owners there who I still talk to, to this day.”
With the business plan writing and other skills she learnt at DMI, Waller was able to win a Miller Brewing Company’s national Business Plan competition. The prize was $25,000 to help her business grow.
Today, she consults with with food service businesses in Georgia and Alabama.
Her clients includes any businesses that serve food, including restaurants, movie theaters. Colleges and university and Georgia Headstart.
Wright graduated from DMI in 2004. She had been in business for 17 years when she went to the institute but she still found the training helpful.
“It helped me to fine tune things,” she said. “It was concentrated time to focus on business development. As full-time entrepreneur, you often don’t have time to plan.”
With the DMI training, Wright said she was able to develop a marketing plan that mapped her which clients she would trage and how she could land their business.
Her CP firm offers tax and estate planning to banking and small business clients.
“If you put the commitment in, you will be successful,” she said.
Wallace says graduates of the program leave knowing whether they should be in business and the knowhow to maximize the profitability of their business.