Connecticut Business Program Helps Owners Scale
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
STAMFORD, CONN. (WCBS 880) — A business development program in Connecticut has had a strong track record of helping mostly female business owners improve their operations and scale.
For 25 years, the Women’s Business Development Council of Stamford has provided operational and marketing training to business owners at all stages.
“One of the most common problems we see with entrepreneurs is they’re not charging enough, and women entrepreneurs in particular are not paying themselves, which makes it particularly difficult if they want to scale their business down the line,” said Carol Cheswick, a WBDC advisor and entrepreneur.
Cheswick joined her mentee Annya White-Brown of NaturalAnnie Essentials on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, to discuss the resources available to business owners through the WBDC.
“The WBDC is focused on helping women and men become empowered financially through education, through understanding the opportunities and how they can grow their business and really understand what the different tools are that they can use to help build their businesses,” said Cheswick.
The advisor calls White-Brown a “natural marketer.” She took a nine-week course through the WBDC to improve her grasp on budgeting, margins and other core financial elements of her business.
“You got to look at the numbers to see your past activities, to see how you’re going to profit as a business and move forward,” said White-Brown, continuing, “Those numbers are crucial in how you market your business. Those numbers are crucial as to how you stay in business. So having to go through that every week was really good.”
White-Brown started NaturalAnnie Essentials as a skincare business in 2015 after she developed a home remedy for her daughter. In 2019, she introduced candles.
“About a year later, candles was all that we were selling. So, we had to make that decision to move forward with what was working best,” she said.
Most of NaturalAnnie Essentials’ sales are via their website. White-Brown also created a “candle bar” called Sip & Pour where customers can make their own candles.
“It’s a BYOB event. So, they bring their own beverage, food, if they’d like, and they make candles and have a great afternoon.”
White-Brown is planning on applying to a new $10,000 grant offered by the WBDC for businesses in existence for at least two years with at least $25,000 in sales that have identified a specific traceable need that will help them scale.
See more on the Women’s Business Development Council on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.