Shatera Robertson, owner of Unique Styles & Designs Floral Boutique in Uptown Martinsville, built a successful business over the past year with facts and expert guidance. She credits the Longwood SBDC for providing the information that led to that success.
“The key to anything you do in life is wisdom and knowledge,” Shatera says.
Shatera began her journey into floral design 14 years ago with a birthday party for her daughter.
“My interest in doing events grew from there,” she adds. “I actually started my business in 2016.”
Her goal was a storefront location, and during the pandemic, she learned of a vacancy in Uptown Martinsville. After six months of renovations, Shatera held a formal grand opening in June 2021.
“I first met Longwood SBDC Business Analyst Michael Scales when he came to my opening event,” Shatera relates. “He seemed very knowledgeable about business.”
Shatera emailed Michael to see if she could learn more.
“I made an appointment, and he told me about SBDC services that could help my business grow,” Shatera adds. “He also told me about the Startup Martinsville-Henry County (Startup-MHC) and Grow Martinsville-Henry County (Grow-MHC) programs, so I decided to enroll.”
Startup-MHC and Grow-MHC are mentoring programs that help establish new businesses and grow existing ones through “business boot camps” and have graduated 283 participants since 2016. Michael Scales is a co-facilitator for both mentoring programs.
“Going through the GROW program helped a lot,” Shatera comments. “We received information that a lot of business owners don’t have a clue about. We learned about networking with other business owners, important tax tips and how to write business plans.”
At the conclusion of the program, Shatera presented her business plan to a panel of experts. The result was a grant for $1,771.62.
“When I opened my business last year, I financed everything myself,” Shatera says with a note of pride. “I’m a registered nurse and was able to work extra hours in the emergency room during the pandemic to fund my business.”
Since she connected with the SBDC, Shatera has seen a 50 percent increase in that business.
Planning for the future, Shatera is certain of one thing: the SBDC will be front and center.
“The SBDC gave me the information and motivation to keep going and grow,” she concludes. “I recommend the SBDC to other business owners so they can grow as well.”