SBDC gives form to dreams at CCC


Cecilia "Ceci" Findley (left) learned from Small Business Development Center Director Diana White the next steps she has to take to start her small business in Flagstaff.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The concept part was easy, said Flagstaff resident Cecilia “Ceci” Findley.


She envisioned that her “Beauty Enhancing Studio” would have a row of cosmetology stations. The studio would have an art gallery for artists to display their latest work. It would also have a photo studio for photographers to rent for shooting gigs. The entire space would be “musically enhanced” with live music. The endeavor would most certainly be collaborative. Growing up, Findley wasn’t comfortable with limitations and labels put on creativity.


How would she turn her concept into a business?


Findley enrolled in Coconino County Community Services’ Basic Business Empowerment training taught through the Small Business Development Center at Coconino Community College. She and nine other classmates graduated in late July with a business plan and a hefty start on how to proceed.


“I was at a fork in the road,” Findley said, adding that she left her job with two overriding questions. “What do I want to do for me? What will make me happy?”


Her husband Joseph had taken the county’s business class and put her in contact with facilitator Diana White, Director of the SBDC at CCC. White suggested the class to help her “better learn what that ‘happy’ was.”


“The Basic Business Empowerment program was started 12 years ago by the Coconino County Community Services Department,” said Norma Gallegos, Interim Director of Community Services. “In that time, more than 200 county residents have taken the class to realize their dream of starting a new business.”


“We’re very proud of the program,” Gallegos said, adding that empowering families in starting a small business helps them and our community.


All students in the class must register with the BBE program. After they finish the training, the students, called “team members,” can decide if they want to be SBDC clients, White added. About 50 percent of the students, like Findley, decide to do so. The class lasts 12 weeks and has a cap of 12 students, but White said that cap will be raised to 15 in the next cycle.


The training is $125, which White said allows for “buy-in” from the team members, and if the team members are low to moderate income, they can qualify for 50 percent off the cost of the training. The program itself is supported with a federal Community Services Block grant, Gallegos added.


The county hosts the classes at its Health and Community Services building, but contracts with CCC’s SBDC for the added resources it brings. Some clients, once they have a business plan and some funding in place, may choose to further grow their businesses through the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, or they may wish to strike out in a space they select on their own – like Findley plans to.


Findley said, “She (White) made everything so relatable.”


She added that White made the business concepts accessible and helped her overcome her fear that her dream wouldn’t be achievable by pushing Findley out of her comfort zone.


“The more you get out of your comfort zone and face those fears, you’re not afraid anymore,” Findley said.


She also said that her next step is to complete her business plan, make connections, start networking and get her concept out to the world. She will also need to figure out funding sources to help get her business off the ground, and she’s crafted the “elevator pitch” (a short summary of the business) to entice possible investors and clients to her side.


The motto she’s learned, let the potential investors “get to know, get to like, get to trust” you.


Gallegos said that the county also has a program, called Individual Development Accounts, that helps people wanting to save money for a business start-up. Community banks and foundation grants provide the match incentive to turn up to $2,000 of earned income saved by the participant into a total of $6,000 of business assistance, Gallegos said.


Findley said biggest takeaway from the class was the patience to understand the finances of running a small business. Without that, she wouldn’t have had the foundation to know where she was going. In the class, she learned to break down individual items and evaluate costs for income. For instance, she learned how to measure how many clients would be served by a one-liter bottle of shampoo. It gets that specific.


White said the main thrust of the class is to create a “credibility on paper” that potential investors must see if they are to support a business venture.


Does White have any doubts as to whether Findley will make it? None at all, she said. Findley is determined and passionate.


“And that is why she’s going to be successful,” White added and smiled.


Findley said of the class, “It was definitely life changing. It helps you realize the potential is possible.”


The next cycle of Basic Business Empowerment classes begins Sept. 4. People who want to participate may do so through the Coconino County website at



Thursday, 23rd August 2018

All Dates

  • Thursday, 23rd August 2018