Larry Allred is an example of what a dislocated worker can achieve through Richmond Community College’s Growing America Through Entrepreneurship (GATE) program, college officials say.
He opened All ‘N’ One Barber and Beauty, L.L.C. this month in Rockingham. He enrolled in the program in March.
GATE Counselor Kathryn McEntire works out of Rockingham’s Employment Security Commission JobsLink Center.
Dislocated workers interested in opening their own businesses may qualify for the program, which allows entrepreneurs to focus on starting a business instead of finding another job. It also provides scholarships for classes, books and training related to the planned business.
The program is part of RCC’s Small Business Center (SBC). McEntire counsels entrepreneurs and makes them aware of resources available to them.
“Larry took advantage of every avenue,” she said. “He increased his knowledge base, he grew as an entrepreneur. He attended RCC’s REAL (Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning) program to learn how to develop a business plan. He attended RCC’s Small Business Center seminars on debt management and credit scores. We found a professional in the cosmetology field who helped him through the SCORE program. All of these programs are free to the general public.”
Allred has held at least two jobs most of his adult life. Like many community college students, he worked full-time while pursuing a degree in cosmetology. He spent 20 years in the textile industry and left it to work in a steel plant in Monroe. When the plant downsized, he found himself at the ESC. He decided to talk with McEntire about GATE.
“I’ve worked at salons in Rockingham and Hamlet for quite some time. I’ve always wanted to open a salon and tried to do so for about five years, but nothing ever quite fell into place. Kathryn is a wonderful counselor. I’ve learned a lot from her. I might have had the ideas, but she had the knowledge,” he said.
After an analysis of the pros and cons of his business, Allred decided to locate in Rockingham. McEntire then helped him perform a cash flow analysis.
“I always work with clients to help them understand exactly how much everything will cost and find the bare bones minimum they need to make to survive. They need the answers to these questions before they make the leap of opening a business or they stand a good chance of failing,” she said.
Allred said creating the business plan in the REAL program was an eye opener and hard work.
“The instructor took me beyond the information Kathryn provided. We did a cash flow analysis and focused on developing a solid business plan. I had an idea what I was looking for from Kathryn after that class,” he said.
McEntire directed him to N.C. Leap for legal advice. The organization of lawyers provides advice at no cost to low-wealth business owners. They helped him incorporate his business, developed booth rental lease agreements, and made sure his applications for varying licenses and certification were in order.
“Having been through GATE helps a lot. It’s stressful being your own boss. In my other jobs, I worked and knew how much I would make. Now, just because I have an appointment in the book, I don’t receive anything until I provide my service. There are a lot of ‘What Ifs’ during the day. Kathryn is my cheerleader. She motivates me and drives me to keep going. I call her and she reminds me I can do this,” he said.
McIntrye has 48 entrepreneurs in the program; eight have started businesses. She noted displaced homemakers who find themselves in need of employment may also qualify for the program. For more information, her ESC contact number is 997-9180 or HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"email@example.com.