The Business Opportunity Academy (BOA) is a month long accelerator program for small businesses in San Antonio, Texas. They help small business owners from traditionally underserved communities by providing 16 hours of technical assistance through workshops with experts, hands-on seminars, and networking functions over the course of 4 weeks. Workshop topics include developing financials, bonding, marketing, business certifications, workforce development, presentation creation, and legal issues. BOA participants also receive one-on-one assistance from lenders who consult each participant on creating a path to greater financial viability. There is an application process to ensure that the participating businesses are those who can benefit the most from BOA’s services. BOA graduates have reported securing new contracts with many of the agencies that provided instruction or have experienced growth in revenues. Several have won awards from other organizations recognizing their small business success.
Lika Torline’s journey to becoming a small business owner has been a long one. She graduated from Texas State with a degree in interior design, but a bad housing market forced her to move home to McAllen and work at a local furniture store. Then tragedy struck, and she broke her back on the job. She was broke, unable to work, and struggled through a year and a half long legal battle to receive workers compensation from her previous employer. While she was recovering, she decided to enroll in esthetician school and learn how to be a makeup artist. Learning about the harsh chemicals women put on their face every day inspired her to start mixing her own ingredients and create a skin care line only using natural products. With encouragement from her friends and family, Lika started In the Weeds Natural Skin Care with a focus on premium, handmade, natural beauty products. She’s won the Inventor and Entrepreneur Business Grant from McAllen’s Chamber of Commerce, and after moving to San Antonio, joined the Business Opportunity Academy to continue her momentum and help grow her business.
Through BOA, she’s had access to education about contracts and how to secure them from municipalities in the area, a vital skill especially for someone new in the area. Additionally, she has been able to make connections with a local hospital and other businesses who are sources of potential business contracts. Through her new network, Lika has gained the opportunity to be featured on the Home Shopping Network. She loves that her education at BOA has broadened her thought process about her business, so now she can see what her business is capable of and what she needs to do to improve it. The group discussions and guest speakers were very rewarding, but she wishes there was more time for these discussions for people to connect even more. Currently, she is working with a BOA leader to understand the true cost of her products and is planning on becoming FDA compliant.
Jorge Guerra, another recent graduate from the Business Opportunity Academy, was also excited to learn about how to do business with other local businesses and the chance to network with BOA’s partner agencies, such as CPS Energy, Via, San Antonio Housing Authority, and others. After retiring from the military, he obtained his certifications and has been running Bravo Heating and Air Conditioning since 2004. Jorge prides his business on honest and reliable quality service. He believes that his attention to detail is at the core of his success; rather than just replacing HVAC systems like most of his competition, he also checks for any pre-existing problems that may have made the old unit fail and fixes those as well. While he hasn’t seen direct results yet from his time with BOA, he values the education he received and the community that has formed with the other small business owners in the program.
These are just 2 of more than 80 alumni of the Business Opportunity Academy. Their passion and drive to succeed are at the heart of San Antonio’s economy and culture. For more information, go to https://www.f6s.com/businessopportunityacademy2016/about and see if you and your business can benefit from the Business Opportunity Academy.
The Business Opportunity Academy is in partnership with the LiftFund Women’s Business Center. LiftFund is proud to offer so many opportunities to entrepreneurs and business owners alike. Our goal is to provide the business resources, the business tools, and business loans to make as big of an impact as possible. Sometimes businesses just need a lift, and that is why we exist.