Like most new businesses, Universal Designs Salon did not come about by itself. Building on Ratliff’s determined entrepreneurial spirit, several community organizations provided counsel and support services that helped the start-up to find its footing.
Ratliff first approached Urban Hope/E-Hub of Green Bay for assistance in turning her dreams and ideas into a business plan. A year later she received business loan funding through Nicolet Bank in Green Bay. Then, in 2010, Ratliff was introduced to Chuck Brys, business counselor with UW-Green Bay’s Small Business Development Center.
“When Kimyata came in to discuss her business it quickly became clear that she had done her homework and had truly identified her core target markets,” said Brys. “She knew what their unique needs were, and clearly understood how her core skill sets addressed those needs. She also demonstrated a strong sense of values and could clearly communicate what she was delivering to her clients today as well as her longer-range vision for her company. Entrepreneurs who take the time to think that deeply about their businesses dramatically increase their probability of success. That, combined with Kim’s strong work ethic, convinced me that Universal Designs Salon would succeed and prosper.”
As one of the community agencies supporting her efforts, the SBDC guided Ratliff through the financially technical aspects of the process.
“Chuck’s insight was valuable in helping me to organize my financials. It can be difficult to get detailed information on starting a business beyond the basics and Chuck helped me understand what I needed to know,” Ratliff said. “He also introduced me to people in legal services and has continued to work with me as I consider expansion. Chuck was very knowledgeable and direct and it was just what I needed. Even now, after four years in business, Chuck remains a mentor and a friend.”