Have a question about your small business? Or maybe you were interested in a career change? Did you know that the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership offers FREE one-on-one business counseling to both men and women?
The 30-minute sessions are held in a confidential setting and are available by appointment only. Our counselors are equipped with the business knowledge and experience to provide individuals with advice on a variety of entrepreneurial topics--start-up assistance, business planning, access to funding & lending options, cash-flow management and much more!
Learn more about our amazing business consultants who make a positive impact on our community and read some testimonials from individuals they've helped.
Noela Napoleon recently marked her one-year anniversary as a Counselor and Instructor for the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business and Leadership (MCBL) at YWCA O‘ahu. Although Noela doesn’t have a business degree, she considers herself a generalist and a bootstrapper. Her success as a counselor for new business owners stems from her nonprofit background which she says has given her priceless years of experience.
Following in her entrepreneurial father’s footsteps, Noela took on a new business venture with her husband in 1995 called Slush Puppie Hawaii. The company specializes in frozen beverages and desserts and began by distributing products to convenience stores and hotels. As the business began to grow, Noela and her husband extended their services to party rentals and retail. Today Noela, her husband, and two of their four children run Slush Puppie Hawaii together, but she still finds time to be an independent business consultant at MCBL.
“I feel a strong sense of responsibility because I had better have a lot of integrity, I better be able to be confidential with people’s business, you know their lives. This is heavy stuff. People come to us heart in hand,” Noela said.
As a counselor at the MCBL Noela helps both men and women create their own businesses. She enjoys working with clients from all walks of life and seeing their ideas come to life. Most of her clients are at a transitioning point in their lives where they’re a little bit older and are either looking for a fresh start or want to make a long-held idea happen.
With her integrity and her genuine passion to help others, Noela is a successful business woman, a positive contributor to the community, and an inspirational counselor for adults looking to start their own businesses.
When Tanya Johnson entered the ocean for the first time during her Hawaiian vacation in 2011, she flew home to Utah and told her boss that she was quitting and moving to the islands. Her boss refused her resignation and instead promoted her to assist the company's operation on O'ahu. Tanya eventually took over the Guam operation and received a regional position with the environmental consulting firm, but the travel took a toll on her and she decided to quit the corporate scene.
Tanya had always planned on starting her own business when her children got older and decided that now was the time. She enrolled in the Launch My Business cohort last fall and realized that working with and helping people were her passion. With Tanya's 15+ years of experience in small business and corporate settings, Noela suggested that she joins the YWCA as a business consultant at MCBL.
"I really like working with Noela. Together we're this package and we have completely different skill sets but they complement each other very well," Tanya said.
Tanya works with budding entrepreneurs, existing business owners, and people in their career that think they may want to make a move. She helps them come up with ideas and provides achievable goals , but many times, she's a sounding board that provides comfort and peace of mind.
"The YWCA in particular is near and dear to my heart from a female perspective because I had a rough childhood. I had some pretty significantly not-great things happen to me early in my young adulthood and for all intents and purposes I shouldn’t be where I am today," Tanya said. "And so to be where I am today and to be attached to an organization where I can share my story and share the things I’ve learned and I can give back everything that I’ve gotten from the world is just amazing. I love coming in here. We get the best people that come to us, because they’re not coming with an agenda, they’re coming because they want help and to be able to help them is a big deal."
Testimonials from mcbl participants
"Before working with our MCBL counselor, we were unable to answer basic questions about aspects of our work because we were so busy. Some days we didn't have time for a cup of coffee. She caused us to step back from our daily tasks and re-evaluate our goals.
Our MCBL counselor opened my eyes as a business owner to new ways of looking at the same old problems. She sparked a new enthusiasm in me and by extension others in our firm. We were finally talking to each other and suddenly started solving our own problems. She wasn't a cheerleader. Sometimes she gave us ideas that I didn't want to hear. She asked great questions. She got us asking questions of ourselves.
Our company now has written client profiles and a business development strategy. We feel more organized, more grounded and more strategic. We're talking to our clients and each other more, even when Tanya's not there. And we always have time for coffee."
- Melissa Pavlicek, YWCA Board of Director and Business Owner for 5+ years
"Meeting with a counselor really helped me to focus not only on my business plan itself, but to evaluate how it fits into the rest of my life. When starting a business, it is easy to get laser-focused on the idea and forget about your overall life goals (why did I want to start this business in the first place?) I have learned how to consistently re-evaluate my goals, and apply those goals so that they fit my business, and so my business fits my goals."
- Sarah Rice, New Business Startup
"The MCBL counselors were not only concerned about the information they had to deliver; they took a personal interest in all of the participant’s business ideas and any concerns we had. Before I had my counseling sessions with Noela Napoleon and Tanya Johnson, I had a fear of having to face several challenges, specifically with Financial Management and Marketing Strategies. I felt that Noela and Tanya provided real-life business situations in regards to these topics and case, put it into a perceptive to help my business idea become an actual reality."
- Steve Sampson, Launch My Business Participant