West Mesa entrepreneurs get business boost - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

West Mesa entrepreneurs get business boost

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Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 5:13 pm

A nonprofit is working to have more start-up businesses establish themselves in west Mesa, and it's starting a free 10-week program on Thursday to assist entrepreneurs.

The West Mesa Community Development Corporation is targeting businesses in technology, health care, retail and manufacturing in the city west of Gilbert Road, which includes downtown. Existing businesses or people looking to start one can enter the program, which consists of free courses.

The effort is part of a larger economic development for west Mesa, said Cynthia Dunham, the CDC's executive director.

"One of the things that I find from those classes is the effectiveness of networking, beginning that network so you can stabilize your business or help launch your business," Dunham said.

Stealthmode Partners, which consults start-ups, will lead the courses. Stealthmode's Francine Hardaway has consulted hundreds of start-ups and has run similar programs across the Valley. She said the new economy is making small businesses more important for the community - and as a way for unemployed people to survive in a time of high unemployment.

"There are not jobs in this century like there were jobs in the last century, and people need to know entrepreneurial skills," she said. "We help their entrepreneurships grow and help them build an entrepreneurial infrastructure. The major goal is to make the entire Valley more entrepreneurial."

The courses will cover topics that include hiring the right people, reading financials, developing a company culture and creative financing. Hardaway said she'll also talk about whether an idea is financially viable and how to create the best odds of succeeding because the vast majority of new businesses fail.

Startups have to start methodically, she said. Rather than starting with an expensive lease that could consume limited funds, Hardaway said companies need to first develop a minimum viable product.

"If people are willing to pay for it, great," she said. "Then you spend all your time making it better and building an organization around it."

Courses begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 and continue through April 5. To sign up, go to http://westmesanewventure.eventbrite.com/

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