Charlene Westgate had an education in design and a passion for the environment. She brought them together after becoming frustrated at the lack of sustainable landscaping services offered in her community. “The closest companies were 35 miles away and didn’t want to make the drive to our town,” she recalls. So she sought training in landscape design and earned her certification in permaculture and rainwater harvesting. Then, she opened Westgate Garden Design.
Westgate attended a local SCORE workshop and met with a local mentor, but she found an even stronger connection with P. Simon Mahler, who offered mentoring online.
“The best thing he offered was a SCORE 30-day business startup challenge in July 2017,” Westgate explains. “Each day, Simon walked us through a new piece of the startup process from researching our business idea, to creating a business model canvas, to setting up our website and marketing our new business.” Westgate could share challenges and triumphs with her mentor and other participants in a private Facebook group.
“The program was brilliant because it was well structured with each day’s information building towards the next,” Westgate says. “It also included a specific assignment for the day.”
“Thanks to the startup challenge, I have made strategic alliances to build my business in 2018, where my goal is to double my 2017 income,” Westgate says. One important relationship she has formed is with the Tucson Audubon Society, which chose her company to represent the “Habitat at Home” program that encourages homeowners to create bird-friendly landscapes.