In the 17 years I’ve been working with business people of all kinds, one thing has always amazed me: the absence of clear-eyed, understandable maps to help you navigate through the phases of your business. Sure, there’s business school where you can study accounting, finance, marketing, call center management. You can even take statistical analysis of historical sales data, but the problem remains. You can’t get real training in what it means to start and run a small business. What it means to hire your first employee and then your second, to change products, to calm a raging client or even reject one, to grapple with sudden bouts of uncertainty and even terror about what you did or didn’t do or what you should do next.

Wells Fargo has stepped into the void. I was lucky enough to serve as a coach for Wells Fargo’s pilot project providing business advisors and services for a few up and coming small business owners seeking guidance. I spent two weeks this winter helping a couple of small businesses figure out what their next steps were to get closer to their dreams.


One couple –  Shua & Jou Lee Xiong – came to the United States in the 1970’s to escape communism and brutality in Laos. As a young family of immigrants, they decided to start a business so their kids wouldn’t struggle like they did. Twenty years ago, they started a Hmong grocery in a tiny store front and developed it into the thriving, vibrant cross between supermarket and community center that it is today. They asked Wells Fargo and me for guidance on expanding their business and sharing their profits with their employees. Seeing the enthusiasm and gratitude of these kind people has revitalized my faith in the American dream. Thanks to Wells Fargo, by the time I left, Shou and Jou Lee had a new promotional campaign, a website and the beginnings of a profit sharing plan for their employees.


The other business owner I worked with, Kelly Lester, started her company to make her most frustrating job – lunch packer for three active kids – easier and more efficient. She created a set of lunch boxes that were ideal for her family. Upon that foundation she has built a multi-million dollar business. Now, eager to get back to her life’s work as a performer, she sought my advice on how to go about selling her business. Thanks to Wells Fargo Works, by the time I left, Kelly had new professional video promotions and a plan to sell her business.

I’m so proud of the work I was able to do with Wells Fargo Works. If you want to learn more about the Wells Fargo Works Project, check out their website to see the true stories of how these business owners took the next step to achieve their goals. You can watch the videos there and  you can enter the contest to win guidance and resources, along with $25,000 for your own business. #pd

Sign up for Wells Fargo Works now!

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