Starting your business is almost a rite of passage in Silicon Valley. And while failure is almost viewed as a badge of honor, it doesn’t have to be a requirement for success. The new Center for Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) opened at to ensure that all Redwood City businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive without hitting the usual stumbling blocks.
Pursuing one’s passion and starting one’s own business is often romanticized as a simple formula of passion and hard work. But it’s much more than that, said CEO Faculty Coordinator Catherine Fraser. And that’s where CEO can help businesses avoid these misconceptions.
“No, I won’t be the CEO of your company, but I can help provide the resources for success,” she said.
And no matter what stage of development a business is in, CEO is opening its doors to everyone. Channeling Y-Combinator, an incubator for some of Silicon Valley’s most successful start-ups, CEO will also feature an incubator, complete with computer-filled workspaces for budding companies.
Start-up life can be a lonely, and frustrating, one without the network to support you. CEO can fill that void and even go beyond that, Fraser said.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone show you the ropes?” Fraser said. “Someone to help guide you through the process?”
Mentors will guide businesses and steers start-ups away from the typical pitfalls, such as not having enough capital in the initial stages. They can review their books to make sure their finances are accurately reported.
Dave Hyman, owner of Encore Performance Catering in Redwood City, said he was excited to mentor new businesses.
"It's the little things that they may not know," he said. "Like the physical toll it takes on you. I go through a new pair of shoes every three months!"
Reaching a Wider Community
Small businesses are the lifeblood of San Mateo County, with 96.7 percent of businesses having fewer than 50 employees.
“This is huge,” said the city’s Economic Development Director, . “I’m so glad the college is stepping up to provide this.”
She said that passion isn’t enough to keep a business afloat, but many business owners may not have enough accounting or marketing knowledge. The one-unit classes at Cañada offer practical advice that most business owners don’t have access to now that they’re not enrolled in school.
And because of its location on a college campus, current students can enter the real world with a “workforce readiness,” Barnes added. The entrepreneurial spirit is hitting students at a younger and younger age, when they have the vision and gumption to take a bet on an idea.
Linda M. Hayes, the Dean of Cañada’s Business, Workforce, and Athletics Division said this had been an on and off project for years, but a team of faculty was finally able to establish the space.
“We said, ‘What is it going to take to support the small business community?’” Hayes said after receiving a mini-grant award. “Well now this is your CEO, your facility.”
Fraser called on the existing business community for help, those who wish to be a mentor or simply want to share their stories of success.
Though individual businesses all have their own dreams of profitability, a community of successful businesses is infinitely more valuable.
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