What can the Library do for you? As small business owner Maria Sanchez knows, the options are endless.
Maria runs a small import/export company out of her home in Lakewood, Colorado. She supports her business by using free tools and resources from the Library.
“You have to pay many fees when you run a business,” she explains. “But when you start your own business, you don’t always have money for these things. So you think to yourself, what should I do? You need to use the resources that you can get for free. What’s a good choice? The Library.”
To Maria, using free business resources at the Library just makes “good business sense.” For entrepreneurs like her, we offer a wide selection of business books in our physical collection; online tools accessible from anywhere, like Gale’s Small Business Builderopens a new window and Reference USAopens a new window; and Book a Librarianopens a new window, a business/nonprofit help service. On a daily basis, Maria uses Reference USA to curate a customer mail and email database and the Gale Small Business Builder to define her business plans and goals. She earned an international sales certificate by studying the Library’s robust set of materials on international laws and regulations.
“I changed my skills to survive,” Maria says. “My business is my dream. And I needed to find the right way to make it work for me. This is why I love the Library: anything you want, the Library has. It was my education.”
Maria moved to Denver from Mexico City 19 years ago. Despite her excitement to be moving to this place of "new opportunities," she felt that she needed to “learn how people work in this new culture.”
“It was hard for me,” she says. “I knew zero English. So I went to school to learn English at Red Rocks Community College.”
It was there that Maria first experienced a taste for business. In addition to English-language-learning courses, Maria took a few business courses and ended up working for a mortgage company for more than 11 years.
“With the recession, everything changed. It changed everything for everybody,” Maria says. Smiling, she opens her hands in an accepting shrug, “Sometimes life just puts you in a different situation.”
To Maria, her situation was one of opportunity. She went from processing loans to “finally doing something for myself.” Using Library resources she identified her path forward, created a business plan and established Maria’s Cool Stuff: Import and Exports.
“I wanted to sell something that is interesting for people,” Maria says. She serves as the third-party distributor for primarily European business, connecting retailers with items like organic soaps and lotions, natural textiles, and handmade goods from small, local producers.
While she’s a goal-setter and always looking at new ways to improve her business, grow and succeed, to Maria, business and life are about much more.
“Connection,” she says, when asked what her favorite thing about running a small business is. “Economic things are secondary. Love people -- this is the key.”
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