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Brian Stimson of The Skanner News
Published: 05 May 2011

If you're thinking of opening up your own business – whether it be a food cart or beauty salon – the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council is holding a free, day-long seminar that will attempt to allay fears and give a healthy dose of reality to the life-altering decision.

The Self-Employment Conference will feature two keynote speakers – Gayle Beacock of Beacock Music Company and Mark Paul of Synergy Consulting Group – as well as a number of panels that cover a number of different small business models. The free event will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17 at The Hilton in Vancouver, Wa. Register at www.swwdc.org.

Kathy Condon, the event's co-coordinator, said the conference will give honest advice about the various commitments that it takes to start and run a small business.

"Our biggest concern is that we don't want to make it sound so hard they want to stay at home and pull the blankets over their heads," she said.

But Condon said she and other seminar participants don't want to fool people into thinking that being an entrepreneur – much less a successful entrepreneur – is an easy endeavor that just anyone can handle.

"Do I ever wish they had this kind of seminar when I started my business," said Condon, who has been self-employed since 1994 as a performance and executive coach, speaker, author and career consultant.

She said many other small business owners feel the same way.

In addition to the aforementioned speakers and panel discussions, the seminar will feature booths in the conference area where attendees will be free to speak with a number of entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and professions.

The panels will include a "Hobby to Project" discussion with Sharon Spencer and Shannon Stewart; a restaurant discussion with Jim West; a retail discussion with the owner of Willows; a presentation on starting a consulting business with SBC's Buck Heidrick; and a presentation on starting a personal service business with Molly Silva, a pet-sitter and personal trainer.

Condon says she's really proud of the number of high-caliber speakers and panelists that have agreed to take part in the conference.

"We're calling it the unvarnished truth," she says. "They all see the need in it."

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