Before we can talk about Michelle, we must first talk about the Women’s Business Center… because Michelle joined at its inception on October 13, 2003 and so much of it can be attributed to her influence.
“Whether you are an aspiring or budding entrepreneur, we can help you create a small business that is profitable, sustainable, and successful in achieving your personal goals” is inscribed on the Center’s website. The Center was founded by Mike Stull, current Academic Director of the Entrepreneurship program at California State University, San Bernardino and the Director for the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship. Mike has more than 30 years entrepreneurial and business experience in both the non-profit and the for-profit business world. Michelle Skiljan was the founding Director at the time of inception.
Michelle has an undergraduate degree in Information Management and a Certificate in Accounting. Her MBA Concentration is in Entrepreneurship, earned from California State University, San Bernardino. Michelle’s goal is to help women start and grow businesses. During Michelle’s tenure, the Women’s Business Center Programs have raised nearly $5 million in federal and match funding, trained over 45,000 workshop participants and provided business counseling for 3,452 business owners.
“I have spent my career in small business development because I enjoy helping others achieve business success,” recounts Michelle when we spoke to her earlier this week. She says that the Center’s mission is to counsel, teach, encourage and inspire women business owners at every stage of development and expansion. For Michelle, it is extremely rewarding to help women with their dreams of business ownership.
Michelle talked about the lessons she’s learned; lessons that everyone can use.
- First, you can’t be all things to all people. Find your path and stay with it. Expand – when you are ready and when it makes sense. Make sure you have a solid plan in place.
- Perseverance is often the difference between success and failure. As a small business owner, you may have to endure some tough times; prepare for these times so you are still around when the situation improves.
- Ask for help. One of Michelle’s most successful clients utilizes multiple programs for assistance and today has a thriving business.
- Learn from your failures and move on. Celebrate your successes, even the little ones!
Michelle is proud of all the programs offered by the Center. One in particular, which was launched in 2006, is what makes her exceptionally proud. The program is called “It’s Your Time: An Entrepreneurial Training Series for Women.” It has had many team members work on it throughout the years, and because of this attention, it has become the great program it is today! Out of that program, rose “Ignite! 90 Days to Business Mastery” and Michelle foresees this program being even more successful!
Michelle’s hero? “I have many heroes… I am most in awe of women who, despite the odds, achieve success and then reach back to help others.” She is currently reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
The Inland Empire Women’s Business Center is a non-profit that helps people (yes men too) grow their business. But they can’t do it alone; they need your help. The Center has annual fundraising goals that must be met in order to receive Federal funding from the US Small Business Administration. Consider helping, if you can, and next time you walk into a small business in your community, you might have Michelle to thank for the success you witness! Every community needs small business, so here’s a huge “thank you” to the programs that make them thrive and especially people like Michelle, who give their time to support the owners and starters!