Business Owner Mentors Up-and-Comer

7:15 PM, Nov 6, 2011   |    comments
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Donna Scalfaro owns a carpet cleaning business, and Allie Balling is the proud proprietor of a brand new marketing company.

But as different as their industries are, Balling says she'd be lost without Scalfaro's advice.

"Donna's been a great inspiration for me, she's really helped me from beginning to end with my business plan," said Balling.

Scalfaro is Allie's mentor through University at Buffalo's Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs (MWEE) program.

"When I first was called to ask if I'd participate in the program as a coach, my feeling was, how can I really help somebody, I'm still learning, because I'm so new," said Scalfaro.

Both women made mid-career decisions to take the plunge and become small business owners. For both women, starting new companies in a down economy had its challenges.

Scalfaro and Balling have been working together since March, putting together Balling's business plan, helping her get aquainted with the financial end of running a business. The program required them to get together just one hour a month.

"Towards the end I was calling her every other day!" said Balling. "She was really patient, and really kept me on track on what I needed to be focused on."

"I've really enjoyed watching the whole plan come into place, I've really enjoyed watching Allie get information and know how to proceed forward. It's been really rewarding for me," said Scalfaro.

Scalfaro now has a full client list, as well as a life-long mentor and friend.

"She struggles maybe sometimes with the things I struggle with, so it makes me feel like, ok, well, I'm not crazy, I'm not, you know, everyone goes through this process, and everyone feels this way," said Balling.

And for this Buffalo transplant who came to Western New York from Atlanta just a year and half ago-- Scalfaro is one in a city full of good neighbors.

"Buffalo's been very gracious to me and my business, so I'm very lucky to be here, and it couldn't be any better," said Balling.


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