For many people, moving to Hawaii seems like a dream come true. Warm days filled with sun and sand is a stark contrast to tiny cubicles and overhead florescent lights in which many of us may find ourselves spending more time in than we’d like to admit. Cathy Walker always knew she wanted to move to the Aloha State, and, eight years ago, she made her dream a reality. Upon her arrival, she quickly began networking and was hired as the Assistant Comptroller by one of the largest hotel chains on the island. Things were looking pretty good until what we all know as the Great Recession occurred. Such as with most tourist destinations, tourism in Hawaii suffered heavily and Cathy was let go by her employer. Though this did not get her down, instead she saw it as an opportunity. Despite not having a job and the harsh economic environment, Cathy decided it was the right time to open a business. After much due diligence and research, she bought the Pop-A-Lock of Honolulu franchise in Hawaii.

Cathy was able to purchase the company with money inherited after the unfortunate loss of her parents, and to help grow her company, she enrolled in the SBA Emerging Leaders Program. Through the course, she created a three-year growth plan to reinvest and expand the company with SBA financing. And upon graduating from the program with her three-year blueprint in hand, she started the process to obtain additional funding.

Applying for SBA funding turned out to be a great idea, because two months after she started preparing to apply for a line of credit, another opportunity presented itself for her to expand Pop-A-Lock of Honolulu. Because she had been steadily preparing the necessary documentation and outlining a solid business growth plan, Walker was also able to get the funding she required to grow her business at the exact moment she needed to. The process to get a business loan can be a long one, but luckily since Cathy had done the work far in advance, Walker received the funding at just the right time.

Early preparation allowed Cathy a relatively stress-free experience throughout the process of actually obtaining the funding. Her education through the SBA program allowed her to start thinking ahead for the future and prepared her much more strategically than she was before.

In the future, Walker anticipates that they will again need additional funding. She is currently a scholar in the Goldman Sacs 10,000 Small Business Administration program administered through the prestigious business school Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts and is currently preparing her five-year growth plan. She plans to use the same bank she initially received funding from because she now has an existing relationship with the bank and the SBA.

For other women business owners, she suggests trying to get your company recognized through public relations, social media, and awards, especially since there are not as many women out there who own businesses. She has found that people are willing to spotlight successful woman-owned businesses in order to encourage other women to start their own companies.

She also recommends creating a business plan that is comprehensive and provides forethought to show the bank a solid strategy that will assist you in getting the funding you might need. The more you plan the better.

Today, Cathy is living her dream in the sunny state of Hawaii with her husband and working hard to grow her company to the next level. For the future, she is focusing on marketing her business further to build brand recognition, as well as continue to enjoy her life in the beautiful island state.

There are numerous alternative or nontraditional routes to funding and investing money for emerging businesses that are often unknown to the greater business community. There are also traditional funding routes that work effectively if you plan ahead, such as we saw with the case of Cathy Walker.  Leading Retirement Solutions is proud to bring you these unique stories of prosperous business ventures that find success despite the financial obstacles laid before them.
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