By Asia Nail
The Truth Reporter
As a writer and black woman working in the fine jewelry industry, I’m slowly carving my path like the brilliance of a diamond. In doing so, I could never express enough gratitude for the full support I’ve received locally by my professional peers and the lessons we learned as participants of Assets Toledo’s 69th business cohort.
“Assets Toledo isn’t just a business initiative; we are a beacon of unity and empowerment,” said Executive Director Oliva Holden to all of our class as she welcomed us to the Assets family. “I look good for a mother of over 5,000 students and counting, huh?” she shared as we all laughed.
At Assets Toledo, you learn the gems of wisdom that will be your business cornerstones. From writing a business plan to budgeting and marketing, they equip business owners to break barriers while embracing opportunities.
What truly sets Assets apart is the staff’s dedication to supporting driven individuals in northwest Ohio who possess a personal aspiration for self- employment, despite facing limited resources.
This commitment is realized through their 13-week entrepreneurial training program, which fosters peer connections, while offering both a support network and essential capital.
In class, I found myself among a diverse tapestry of entrepreneurs from all walks of life. The sense of community, the shared dreams, and the collective determination were my companions on our roads to success. Over the next 13 weeks we learned, when entrepreneurs work together, we can rewrite the rules of what’s possible in business.
It was in the infamous Assets classroom that my personal ambition found its wings. As a mom of two young children, I was fueled by the program’s practical, experience-based training.
Before Assets, writing a business plan, for most of us, was a beyond overwhelming task. We learned having a business plan is the compass that navigates entrepreneurs through the labyrinth of business endeavors. It’s not just a document; it’s a strategic roadmap that outlines a clear vision, goals, and the detailed steps required to achieve them.
We all crafted our business plans as a means of providing a solid foundation for our future decision-making, anticipating challenges, identifying opportunities, and allocating resources effectively.
A business plan is an essential tool that instills discipline, offering a structured framework to measure progress, evaluate performance, and make adjustments when necessary. Ultimately, we learned having a business plan is the difference between wandering aimlessly and confidently steering ourselves toward success. It’s a guiding light through uncertainty with a coherent and actionable strategy.
Assets training helped us focus on each individual part of our business so that our business plans could help us transform our ideas into concrete actions. This communication tool will help each of us convey our visions to potential investors, partners, and stakeholders. By defining the target market, competitive landscape, and marketing strategies, we learned our business plans will ensure that we are equipped with a clear understanding of the market dynamics we’re entering.
Assets Toledo’s proprietary programming infuses business owners with a surge of confidence by immersing them in practical scenarios that mirror real-world challenges. As we navigated these simulated situations together, we all gained firsthand insights into decision-making, problem-solving and strategic planning.
This hands-on exposure fosters a deep understanding of operating a profitable business and hones your skills, transforming theory into tangible competence.
Many different business owners within the Assets network came and gave presentations to the class. With each successfully tackled scenario, we watched each business owner witness his or her own growth in real time. It was cool, like watching a lightbulb turn on in someone’s head!
It is dynamic entrepreneurial training that will solidify your own beliefs in your individual ability to navigate complexities, make informed choices, and to ultimately lead your business with unwavering assurance.
In a world that’s beginning to truly value equity, diversity and inclusion, I’m discovering my personal journey isn’t just about opening a local gem boutique. It’s about being part of a movement that reshapes the narrative of black businesses.
Assets Toledo’s faith-based training weaves character building and values into the fabric of entrepreneurship. The staff and business advisors are more than just professional peers; they are kindred spirits on a shared journey. Together, they form a diverse network of support, resilience, and hope. I enjoyed getting to know my professional peers individually. Listening to our shared experiences formed bonds that, I believe, will carry us through the toughest days.
My new written journal and vlog, iRockGems.com, isn’t just a website to me; after 20 years of working as a jewelry professional, it’s a testament to my resilience and growth. We all have that, when we don’t quit. I’m glad I found Assets Toledo and kept going.
iRockGems offers a curated collection of high-end and artisan jewelry sourced from independent female, male and BIPOC-owned businesses (Black Indigenous People of Color). By supporting these businesses, we aim to uplift and inspire confidence in representation from diverse backgrounds. Each independent jeweler spotlighted creates gems that bare the imprints of their journeys: the hurdles overcome, the barriers shattered, and the allure of their special skill set.
My journey as a black woman jeweler turned entrepreneur isn’t just about me though; it’s a chapter in the larger story of a changing world.
The mission of Assets Toledo transcends small business development; it’s about crafting a brighter future. As the world evolves, so does the perception of minority business. Assets Toledo stands as a testament to what can be achieved when dreams are nurtured with knowledge and when the spirit of entrepreneurship aligns with principles of equity and inclusion. In this new era, where business innovation and social justice go hand in hand, they are a beacon of light.
On behalf of myself and cohort 69, we thank the entire Assets Toledo staff and their network of professionals for their incredible support and guidance. You all stand as a shining example of what can happen when passion, knowledge, faith, and community come together in perfect harmony.
To learn more about Assets Toledo visit www.AssetsToledo.com where you’ll find detailed information about their business programming.