The first day in the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) I along with other student interns met with SBDC director Eustace Kangaju. Eustace spoke to us about what the SBDC is and what it offers to the community of Philadelphia. He spoke about the special seminars that the SBDC offers regarding all aspects of business development. After handing out the SBDC programs he explained in detail the contents. There was the confidentiality agreement, a portion regarding self-profiting from work offered to the business owner. I signed the confidentiality agreement and any other forms that I needed to, and then Eustace explained to each one of us what our first project would be and whom we would work with.
I got assigned to work for a bookstore located in downtown Philadelphia near Independence Mall that concentrated on local artists, authors, and African-American works. This business owner needed help getting the business to the level of profitability she needed in order to be successful. Eustace for this project assigned me to work with Pearl Whang-Harerra.
I met with Pearl a couple days later during my first day working in the SBDC. She gave me the bookstores business plan and asked me to read over it and study it. She said pay attention to the estimated numbers that the business owner, Angela, had projected in her accounting plans. After studying the business plan I learned that the expected numbers for the first year were all correct except for the estimated revenues. The actual expenses met very closely to Angela's estimations, however the revenues were lacking. The lack of revenue created a domino effect of negatives for the business.
This bookstore was open for approximately a year and a half, and the lack of revenues had started to take its effect on the store. Angela had to let most of her staff go and now her only employees were herself, a volunteer friend, and an co-op intern from Drexel University. Angela was also working another job so that she could supply the financials she needed for her personal needs. Not being able to keep employees was affecting the business and her in many aspects. On the personal level she was forced into working many more hours then she originally was anticipating. As an entrepreneur it is known that many hours are needed to have the business take off and be successful. However, when the business owner is working another job and then working the floor of her own business some of the important aspects of business development takes a back seat and gets forgotten. As an entrepreneur keeping accurate financial records, inventory records, and creating new aspects of business that will help it grow are most important. The problem is when Angela is working up to sixteen hours a day, working on records and business development becomes harder to concentrate on and the actual work done on them is less productive.
The revenue loss causes many other problems also. Since there was no money coming into the business, Angela is unable to purchase new titles that she believes would add value to the store and also titles that customers are inquiring about. In the bookstore business customers are very aware of book title rankings and they seek to find those titles. If a bookstore cannot afford to carry the new titles it handicaps the business from being able to capture new customers and keep previous customers.
Another important portion of her business that is being affected is the loss of revenue is bankrupting her ability to market the bookstore. Without money coming into the business you...