February 13th, 2017

Passion for the Elderly Turns into an Entrepreneurial Journey to Owning a Business

When I first met Donna Harrity over a year ago, it was clear that she had a passion for the business she wanted to start. Donna Harrity’s drive to become self-employed started with a need she found in the community while working for 20 years as Director of Admissions at Calvert Manor. “People would call me more and more and say that a parent was ready to be in a nursing home and couldn’t live alone anymore. After a brief discussion, it became evident that their parent could stay at home if they were simply more aware of community resources available to them,” Harrity explains. She knew about the resources available to help keep seniors living in their own home longer and felt that she could be that resource connecting the dots for these families.
Harrity’s launched her small business Aging Life Guides with a mission to help seniors and their families make informed decisions to meet individual needs and to help maintain a high quality of life. The mission and drive came easy to Harrity, but she did not know where to begin when it came to formalizing the business. During an appointment at CCPL’s Small Business Information Center we discussed the process of starting a business in Cecil County.
“The brochure that the library provided on starting a business was an excellent step-by-step guide that really helped to lay the groundwork for creating an LLC. It simplified what I thought was going to be a complicated process.” Harrity credits the resources at the Cecil County Public Library as being instrumental in the early stages of her business.
“We were able to find pertinent demographic information from the library’s databases along with projections on my target population. The competitor analysis from Reference USA (another library database) also helped me to visualize where the current need for my services was not being met.” Harrity also praises the Gale Online Courses offered through the library’s website. She took a class on Healthy Aging and plans to take more in the future to stay current on both general business topics and topics specific to her industry.
Currently, Aging Life Guides provides assessment and care plans that evaluate a senior’s abilities and areas of concern as well as solutions. Harrity also assists families with home care providers, home equipment, managing medications, banking and bill paying. In addition, she can provide a transition plan when a senior is discharged from the hospital or rehab back to home. Her warm personality and experience in geriatric care a perfect combination for an entrepreneur in this industry. If you would like to contact Donna Harrity and discuss the services she can offer to your family, call 443-207-8834 or visit www.aginglifeguides.com or email her at donna@aginglifeguides.com.
Future goals for Harrity include connecting to more potential collaborators, like financial planners and eldercare lawyers. She plans to consult with the library in the future to help guide her along the way. Using the library’s free online database Reference USA, she now has a complete contact lists for all financial planners in Cecil County, so she is on her way to achieving these goals.
Another opportunity to benefit from Harrity’s eldercare knowledge involves a new collaboration with St. Mary Anne’s Church in North East. They are presenting a free, three-part series of workshops on Managing Senior Life: “Paying for Long-Term Care” on February 11 at 10am, “Staying Strong with Age” on March 11 at 10am and “Time to Give-up the Keys” on April 1 at 10am.
For more information about the free services offered by the Cecil County Public Library’s Small Business Information Center, visit www.cecil.ebranch.info/smallbusiness or call 410-996-5600 ext. 128 or email sbic@ccplnet.org. As the Small Business Librarian, I would be happy to meet with you one-on-one and assist you with your research needs in starting or running your small business.


Tags: , ,


January 17th, 2017

Cecil Business Resource Partners Prove to be Game Changer for Local Veteran-Owned Business: Peacock Training Institute, LLC

I am so proud to have played a role in Cecil County native Alan Pfau opening his very own firearms training business, Peacock Training Institute, LLC. His story is so compelling because it showcases the power of successful partnerships between local organizations, and the strength the library has in connecting patrons to vital community resources.

Pfau served his country for over 14 years with multiple deployments stateside and overseas, and he hoped to translate the skills he learned in the military into a small business. One of his first decisions was to check out some books around the topic of owning your own business at the Cecil County Public Library. Little did he know that information gained from the books he checked out on entrepreneurship would be a small portion of the information he would receive from the library on launching his first business. While at the library, he learned about the Small Business Information Center, made an appointment with me and we discussed how the library could help him become his own boss.

Pfau and I met one-on-one and discussed his dream of starting a firearms training business. I provided relevant demographic and competitor information related to his industry, including gun ownership rates, which in turn helped him make more reliable projections for his business plan. The competitor information I was able to provide for him came from a free library database called Reference USA. With this information, he analyzed gun ranges near and far and got a sense of their sales volume, number of employees, and credit rating scores. I also knew he would benefit from assistance from other local organizations that have a mission to help small businesses succeed in Cecil County. I referred him to the Cecil Business Resource Partners (CBRP), which he describes as a real turning point for his business. CBRP is a partnership of Cecil County’s education entities and non-profit organizations that have joined together to share information about free resources for small businesses. CBRP members include: Cecil County Public Library, Cecil County Office of Economic Development, Small Business Development Center, Cecil College, Susquehanna Workforce Center, Cecil County Chamber of Commerce and Business Education Partnership Advisory Council.

One CBRP member I suggested Pfau meet with immediately, the Small Business Development Center counselor Ryan Del Gallo, Pfau now credits as being an instrumental mentor in the creation of his business. “Del Gallo assisted me with the financials of my business, writing a business plan, really everything that I needed advice with – he was there for me.” Pfau regularly meets with Del Gallo to discuss his business and credits his relationship with the Small Business Development Center as giving him access to connections throughout Cecil and Harford County. These connections fostered growth for his business, especially the focus group set up by Del Gallo to test out Pfau’s business concept.

Pfau used another connection he received through CBRP to teach a seminar titled, Refusing To Be A Victim, at Harford Community College. CCPL’s introduction to CBRP also gave him a connection to Cecil College. Pfau’s goal is to eventually teach courses there as well. Pfau mentioned another member of CBRP, the Susquehanna Workforce Center (SWN), as giving him access to private industry contacts. He also has an internal training scheduled with SWN in January.

Pfau’s entrepreneurial journey is a shining example of why the Small Business Information Center can be a game changer for local entrepreneurs. The library is a welcoming place, and when I meet with nascent stage entrepreneurs, they feel comfortable asking important questions and researching industry information to be better poised to reach out to banks, community members, or other organizations for assistance with their start-up.

If you are interested in learning more about the Cecil County Public Library’s Small Business Information Center, or any of the other CBRP members call 410-996-5600 ext. 128 or email sbic@ccplnet.org or visit: www.cecil.ebranch.info/small-business/.

For more information on seminars and training provided by Peacock Training Institute, LLC, visit www.peacocktraining.com or contact Alan Pfau directly at 443-406-6260. Peacock Training Institute, LLC’s main goal is to make sure clients understand and feel comfortable handling firearms, and Pfau’s training programs are designed to prevent participants from becoming a victim, inside or outside the home. Pfau acknowledges that there is only one place to shoot in Cecil County, Elk Neck State Park, but Peacock Training Institute, LLC will accommodate shooting arrangements there. Pfau’s long-term goal is to open his own shooting range in Cecil County, and with the help of the committed Cecil Business Resource Partners, he can see this coming to fruition.


Tags: , ,