Tracy Viola comes from a long line of small business owners. So it was only natural that after going back to college for entrepreneurship and accounting, she felt compelled to open her own company. “I sold residential real estate for 16 years, so becoming a broker and opening my own company was a natural progression,” she says.
Her company, Thompson Real Estate Group, represents residential real estate buyers and sellers.
“I had one mentor five years ago when the idea was just a glimmer in my eye,” Viola recalls. “Once I graduated from college and started to set up my business I went to SCORE again for that additional push I needed to launch.” She attended workshops on financing, budgeting, and legal issues, which provided networking opportunities as well as practical lessons she could apply for her new business.
Mentor James Moore advised Viola on staffing issues and how to spend her advertising budget. “My challenges were related to technology and advertising,” she says. “II got so much advice I had to take notes.”
“I love that the mentors donate their time freely and they really want you to succeed,” she says, noting that finding trustworthy advice can be difficult for a new business owner. “I also love the fact that the mentors have collaborations with other new-business-related avenues that they refer you to.”