Paola Mendivil: Small Business Resources and More

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As Business Development Officer for Grow and Vice President of Catering for award-winning El Granjero Mexican Grill, Paola Mendivil is passionate about assisting entrepreneurs in accessing responsible capital, finding resources and providing education to run a successful business.

Mendivil's professional background offers a unique perspective on small business. We connected with her to learn more about what local entrepreneurs should know!

What resources should entrepreneurs know are available to them?
Several organizations offer tools, education, connections and capital to new and established entrepreneurs. Services range from business registration with the state to creating business plans and projections, to pitching prize-winning ideas. Grow's expert team recognizes a common barrier for entrepreneurs isn't necessarily a lack of information, but rather a lack of capital to launch or scale their business.

Grow is a Community Development Financial Institution offering accessible and responsible loans to individuals in nine counties of West Michigan. The primary focus of our work is to assist individuals who've been systematically excluded from obtaining traditional loans. Businesses need this capital to start or expand their businesses, purchase equipment, inventory, vehicles, or pay operating expenses. Approximately 65% of our portfolio consists of low-to-moderate-income households, female heads of households and BIPOC borrowers.

How can existing businesses support growing small businesses?
Existing businesses can use resources, like their customer base and industry connections, to help new businesses grow. They can also provide mentorship and guidance, share resources and provide access to capital. There are many networking opportunities where established businesses can provide industry insights and lessons learned to new ventures. The ecosystem is also intentional about investing in diverse businesses, so existing businesses shouldn't be afraid of reaching out to offer their products and services.

What would you say to someone feeling overwhelmed with their small business venture?
Running a small business can be overwhelming, especially when juggling multiple responsibilities. Here are some encouraging tips:

1. Prioritize and delegate: Identify critical tasks and focus on those. Delegate non-essential tasks to others, if possible. Remember, you don't have to do everything yourself.

2. Break it down: Divide big goals into smaller, manageable steps. Tackling one step at a time can make the journey less daunting.

3. Seek support and accountability: Connect with other entrepreneurs, join local business groups or seek mentorship. Sharing and learning from others can be valuable because other entrepreneurs can be experiencing the same challenges.

4. Self-care: Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Regular breaks, sufficient sleep, exercise and a healthy diet contribute to better decision-making and overall wellbeing.

5. Financial management: Keep a close eye on your finances. Many entrepreneurs are afraid to look at their numbers; budget wisely, track expenses and plan for contingencies before it's too late.

6. Learn and adapt: Be open to learning. Read or listen to books, attend workshops, or follow a podcast and stay updated on industry trends. Adaptability is key.

7. Celebrate small wins: Acknowledge your achievements, even the small ones. Celebrate progress and share with your circles to stay motivated.

Business ownership is often pictured as glamorous or luxurious. This can be possible after a period of hard work, strategy and innovation. Business ownership sometimes feels very lonely and intimidating; being transparent about one's needs to succeed can make the difference between reaching a lead, connection or sale, and not being able to launch at all. Sometimes imposter syndrome or self-doubt can dictate how we make decisions, but we should look at abundance strategy and know that the better we all do, the better our local economy.

Edited by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.

This article originally appeared in the Apr/May '24 issue of West Michigan Woman.

 Photo Courtesy of Isabel Media Studios. 


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