GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- They make beer and granola bars, produce photographic memories and run boutiques, but the four Westchester business owners who spoke to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs at the Greenburgh Library on Tuesday, Aug. 12, had two things in common -- passion and determination.
The panel of businesspeople -- Ernie Molina from Lola Granola Bar, Nick Califano from Yonkers Brewery, Laura Londin of The Booth Photo (Ardsley) and Video and Judith Weber of Recologie Life, a vegan cafe and fashion boutique in New Rochelle -- shared insights, experiences and the challenges they have faced as small-business startups.
The panel was moderated by Holly Perlowitz, CPA/MBA and business development manager, Hawthorne-based Community Capital New York. Perlowitz supports small-business owners in the Hudson Valley by administering a microloan program and providing clients with technical assistance.
Califano, who has built Yonkers Brewery from scratch in 2012 with his partner and lifelong friend John Rubbo, said having a good business plan, passion for the product and long-range goals are key to success.
"We're in somewhat of a growth phase right now and have our own brand out there and have aspirations of becoming Budweiser and Coors," Califano said. "It's like going across country with a road map and knowing where you want to go, and every time you run out of gas you need to reassess and go back to your business plan. It's very easy to get ahead of yourself, so don't forget about the day-to-day."
Londin, who said she and her photographer husband saw the market for a mobile photo and video studio at special events, suggested prospective business owners know who their customers will be.
"Make sure there is a deep market for your product," Londin said. "You can love it, and friends and people around you will tell you it's a great idea, but you have to do the research to be sure you have a market and that people will spend money on it."
For more information on the Community Capital programs, contact Holly Perlowitz at 914-747-8020, ext. 14, or firstname.lastname@example.org