Alameda County SBDCOakland, CA

“Having access to a small business resource like the Alameda County SBDC is what made it possible for me to get the information I needed to know about starting my own small business. It’s a gold mine to have this type of resource in Oakland. I still can’t believe I got the time of a small business consultant for free.”

Lis Golden McKinley

Therapist Turned Organizing Guru Flourishes

Let’s Make Room offers on-site organizing, productivity consulting and de-cluttering services. “Let’s Make Room was launched based on my firmly-held belief that organizing is not just about clearing space for your possessions,” says owner Lis McKinley. “It’s also about clearing the space in your head, your home and your life for the things that really matter.”

Lis McKinley’s biggest challenge was starting a business without any type of business experience or background. With a graduate degree in clinical psychology, she was trained as a marriage and family therapist.

Knowing her limitations as she thought about the idea of turning her organizational skills into a full-time job, she took a couple of SCORE classes offered by the East Bay chapter, then attended an Alameda County SBDC workshop on the topic, “Management Information Systems.”

Lis McKinley worked with Alameda County SBDC Business Advisor Amy McDonough, who was a wealth of information and support on everything from offering editorial suggestions for an online newsletter to assistance with a marketing plan.

Specific SBDC classes taken by the client included Management Information Systems, Business Planning, Bookkeeping, Everyday Business Accounting, Accessing Capital, Marketing Plans, and Technology Boot Camp.

Let’s Make Room was started in March 2009. In the first full year of operations, the small business didn’t even make enough money to pay City of Oakland taxes. By the end of 2010, gross revenue was up by 800%. Growth sales for 2011 are projected to be 15%.

The firm was profitable in the second year of business, says Lis McKinley, partly because the small business resources utilized were either free or low-cost, enabling her to survive during a very challenging year.

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Funded in part through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the California Governors Office for Business and Economic Development, and other private and public partners;  and nationally accredited by the association of SBDCs.