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Nina Grooms-Lee: Helping entrepreneurs to reach their business goals

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Posted: July 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
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This spring was another successful season for the Small Business Development Center’s Young Entrepreneurs Program, or YEP.

YEP provides entrepreneurs ages 14 to 27 with the skills and resources needed to help start and grow a business.

By partnering with regional high schools, area colleges and universities, youth organizations and local businesses, SBDC’s YEP has been able to help young people throughout the Santa Clarita, San Fernando and Antelope valleys define and realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

With assistance from YEP, local young entrepreneurs like Peter Yahiayan and Albert Hernandez continued to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others by creating jobs and building businesses.

Hernandez and Yahiayan are just two of the more than 350 existing and aspiring entrepreneurs that received assistance from YEP this spring. 

The services they received included one-on-one meetings with SBDC business advisers, and the opportunity to attend events like the SBDC Dream & Discover Entrepreneurship Conference and a “Real Business in Action” field trip to AMS Fulfillment, a local business.

YEP participants also showed off their impressive marketing and business-planning skills at the annual YEP Marketing and Business Plan Awards.

For Yahiayan, owner of Eye Finity Printing, an apparel-design and printing business, participating in YEP has meant knowing that YEP was there for him when he needed it. He’s on his second business since he got involved with YEP two years ago, while still a high school student.

Since then, he has received assistance in a number of areas, including how to manage and finance his businesses. But perhaps what’s most impressive, was Yahiayan’s ability to successfully grow his second business, in spite of the ongoing economic recession.

“YEP opened my eyes to what it really takes to have a successful business,” Yahiayan said. “Hearing from other entrepreneurs at workshops helped me learn so much about how to be successful and how to avoid expensive mistakes.”
For Hernandez, owner of Luv My Hats, an apparel business, and founder of Skate 4 for the Disabled, a foundation that raises funds for disabled people, participating in YEP has been life-changing. 

When Hernandez first started with YEP a year ago, he didn’t just do so to take advantage of the resources YEP offered. For him, it was a matter of survival.

He needed to quickly figure out how to make a living, even though he’d never even taken a business class. But Hernandez didn’t want to give up on his dreams. 

With persistence and help from YEP, he fine-tuned his ideas and determined how to start a business that both leveraged his experience and was closely tied to his passions.

“YEP changed my life,” Hernandez said. “It helped me start my business and understand what I wanted to do with my life.
“I got more than just advice from YEP,” Hernandez added. “It also helped me grow as a person. It taught me to never give up. Finding YEP was a blessing.”

The SBDC is currently working on renewal of the YEP program for the fall semester so that it can continue to offer YEP services to promising young entrepreneurs like Hernandez and Yahiayan through the second half of 2011.

Be on the lookout for the SBDC’s schedule of fall events, including workshops, field trips, one-on-one sessions with business advisers and much more.

The SBDC’s YEP program is hosted by College of the Canyons and receives its core funding from the Business & Entrepreneurship Center at Cuesta College and the California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development program.

Nina Grooms-Lee is the SBDC Young Entrepreneur Program Manager at College of the Canyons. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. For more information about the YEP program call (661) 362-5900, email us at sbdc@canyons.edu or visit our website at: www.cocsbdc.org.

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