BOISE — The new director of the Idaho Women’s Business Center hopes to reach out to more local entrepreneurs with the help of technology and continue to assist women business owners in achieving their goals.
Sarah Pokorney became the director of the WBC in December. She previously spent nine years working with start-up companies at the Boise State University TECenter, a business incubator in Nampa, before becoming an entrepreneur herself with a marketing company.
The WBC’s goal is to help economically and socially disadvantaged women business owners through workshops, mentoring and one-on-one counseling, Pokorney said. The center also helps men, and about 20 percent of its clients are men.
“We try to create opportunities for training and assistance in putting business plans together, and for people that are seeking funding for their business and provide them with workshops and educational opportunities to help them grow or start their business,” she said.
An annual membership costs $60 and includes the WBC’s Business Launch workshop, a two-hour course that is the recommended starting point for business owners.
The workshop covers topics including market research, budgeting, choosing a legal structure and major sections of a business plan.
“It’s a real foundational course that gives you a realty check of what it entails to build a business, and then connects you with a lot of resources to get started. So, that’s why we recommend it as the first step,” Pokorney said.
Other workshops and courses offered by the WBC include a Guided Business Plan course and the 10-week Business Success Series.
The WBC primarily helps people in Ada, Canyon, Elmore, Gem and Payette counties, but Pokorney has made it a goal to reach more outlying communities and accommodate more people with the help of technology and web-based training.
“If somebody can’t make it here or can’t make it during certain hours, then we can still help them,” she said.
Working with start-up companies at the TECenter and being an entrepreneur herself, Pokorney said she understands the challenges business owners face. She wants WBC’s clients to feel that they aren’t alone but are part of a team.
“Even with the great network that I had developed, I still felt lonely at times just making decisions and being on your own, so I can definitely understand because I’ve been in those shoes,” she said.
In addition to her work in business and marketing, Pokorney also serves in the Air National Guard as a photojournalist. Part of her training for the Guard included time at the Defense Information School, where she studied journalism.
“I’ve actually found that those skills have been very transferable to my services for businesses in helping them tell their business story, to help them articulate the value proposition for their business and to speak to their clients and their customers,” she said.
There are Women’s Business Centers in all 50 states and Idaho’s is the newest, she said. The nonprofit center is partially funded by the Small Business Administration and is in its third year in Boise. Since it began, the Idaho WBC has had more than 400 members and helped more than 1,000 people through its training.
The funding the WBC receives through the SBA is matched to what the WBC brings in from membership dues, training fees, volunteer hours and monetary donations from the community. Anyone interested in supporting the WBC can call 336-6722 or email email@example.com.
To learn more about the WBC, visit wbcidaho.org.