Walter came into our office to ask for some assistance. Having gone to a nearby business-counseling center to inquire about starting his business, he was handed a 20-page outline to develop a business plan and told to come back when he had filled it out. After seeking additional assistance who was just as overwhelmed by the thought of filling out a 20-page plan, he remembered LAUNCH.
A year before this event Walter was one of our Business Entrepreneurship Academy attendees. He wasn’t ready to launch his business at the time, but knew that one day he would. After meeting with Alexis (AJ) Willis, our Director of Business Support Services, and myself for an hour, having gone over the different parts of the business plan he had been given, Walter exclaimed,
“I knew I had come to the right place.”
He then proceeded to hold our hands and say a powerful prayer for us.
Like many of the microbusiness entrepreneurs that we spend time with, Walter has become a friend. We have breakfast or coffee on multiple occasions. He knows he can visit or call me anytime in the week, and if a couple of weeks have passed without hearing from him, I will reach out to him. He has been plugging away working to get his business off the ground and as is the case of many of our business owners, life gets in the way. Things don’t take off as quickly as it might if there were not many other needs that required attention.
This is one of my greatest joys of working at LAUNCH. Thanks to the support that we receive from many of our donors, we can walk with business owners for as long as it takes to get their business off the ground. Most of our entrepreneurs have to attempt to grow their dreams while working multiple jobs. They may even have to slow their idea down, since they don’t have the seed funding necessary to give the business their full attention. Sure, we would love to be rolling businesses out the door after a 10-week course or after an hour of consulting, but that is rarely the case. That’s ok though, because this presents a great opportunity to walk with our business owners and truly become a member of their team.
After the last time we met for breakfast, Walter asked me if I had time to go see his office. Following the lean model we advice, he was setting up a room in his house to be his home office. Without knowing that I felt deeply privileged to be welcomed and trusted into his life as a coach and as a friend, he asked me if I thought it was good enough.
Starting a business is hard. Starting a business as a veteran, nearing retirement, working full-time, is the stuff that heroes are made off. Being allowed to join men and women with similar stories to Walters is what makes the daily work at LAUNCH truthfully exciting. All of this is possible because just as we walk with Walter, multitudes of people out there walk with us at LAUNCH and support our work to empower underserved communities and individuals through entrepreneurship.
- Marco Perez (Vice President of Operations)