When Patty DeDominic of Los Angeles was setting up her temporary help business in 1979, the world of small-business ownership was completely different than it is now.
"Frankly, 16 years ago women often were discouraged. People would say, `Why would you want to do this business?' " DeDominic said. "Today, it's no longer unusual for a woman to start a business and there are more support mechanisms to help a budding entrepreneur to get the help they need."DeDominic launched PDQ Personnel Services despite hearing a few discouraging words and made a $135,000 profit the first year. Her business now has grown to five offices that are expected to make $15.5 million this year. It also has been hailed by the "Los Angeles Business Journal" as the largest woman-owned temporary-help firm in the Los Angeles area.
She will be sharing insights with the Salt Lake Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Aug. 9, at a dinner/lecture at A Woman's Place Bookstore Foothill Village. Cost is $20 for members and $25 for guests. For reservations, call 579-8399.
DeDominic said she succeeded due to "a natural gift" for matching people with jobs. She previously worked for temporary help firms and also for a major cosmetics company as an employee recruiter and trainer. But there were no advancement possibilities unless she moved to New York, but she didn't want to uproot her family.
After making the rounds of job interviews and finding that she wasn't happy with the way she was being evaluated, DeDominic decided to start her own firm where she could do what she does best - find the right person for the right job.
Her personnel services company has branched beyond clerical help and provides temporary employees in accounting, legal, medical, financial and entertainment fields.
Entrepreneurs, whether women or men, need more than an idea to make their business succeed. "You have to have a dream, but that's where many people fall off. You have to have a specific plan," she said.
First, the individual needs education - either through classes or experience in the new line of work, or both - to weigh the risks and opportunities. The person also needs a written business plan, although it doesn't have to be a 500-page tome. "There are some very good software programs that can assist in developing a business plan," she said.
She recommends undergoing a written SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis when starting a business and she still routinely undertakes such a review for her company.
That also includes a written forecast, or budget, listing estimated expenses and earnings for six months to two years ahead, although she admits the earnings part can be tough to calculate for a new business. "The difference is the minimum start-up capital you would need," she said - and DeDominic suggests doubling that amount to take care of unexpected costs.
Potential business owners also must take stock of the people they'll need - will they have to hire employees, use temporary workers, get advice from a lawyer, banker and accountant?
DeDominic also strongly recommends joining trade groups such as NAWBO and the local chamber of commerce. Besides providing valuable contacts, such groups can educate members in unexpected ways.
And don't forget to give something back to your community, she said.
DeDominic, for example, volunteered for a Los Angeles project helping disadvantaged people find jobs. That helped job-seekers and indirectly helped her because she got to know CEOs of other major companies. She learned how they thought and acted and that translated into useful information for her career.
"We've found over and over that the business of tomorrow is finding ways to do very well by doing good," she said.