Small Business Success Stories

Ja’Net Adams


The reason that I decided to start my own business was that I recognized a global problem.  People were suffering with their finances and didn’t know how to control their money.  I had paid off nearly $50,000 in two and a half years and knew that I could show others how to do the same.  EMACK Consulting LLC was born!

I decided on the name “Dream Girl” because I help people live their dreams.  Everyone has dreams, but to many go through life without those dreams becoming reality because of their finances.  When I show people how to control their money and become debt free they are able to start working towards bringing those dreams into reality.

My biggest challenge has been delegation.  I like to keep my hands on everything because I feel that I can do it better than anyone else and that it will be right.  I learned that I need to be working on my business and not in it.  My second challenge when first starting out was to realize that I can not go to H&R Block for my taxes anymore.  When I first started my business part time I still was working another job until I built up my clientele so my taxes were complex.  Someone introduced me to my CPA and it has been smooth sailing ever since.  The third challenge was to understand that I can’t take on every speaking engagement.  I want to help everyone that I can when it comes to finances, but in the beginning that led me to saying yes to speaking engagements that were complimentary or way below my fee.  I stopped that once I went full time because I realized the most important treasure in my life is my time.

My three biggest accomplishments:

  1. Writing my first book “Debt Sucks!” and it being well received.
  2. Being the featured story and the first Non-CEO African American in the top spot on
  3. Being able to take my son Jonathan Jr. on my WFMY News 2 Debt Sucks TV segment to talk about “My Why.” When we first started to get out of debt he was “My Why.”

I should have hired help earlier.  Now that I have an assistant and a couple of account managers, I am able to work more on my business instead of sending emails and making cold calls!  My favorite show on TV is “The Profit” with Marcus Lemonis and his famous business strategy to help businesses to grow is that they have to examine “Product, People, and Process” then find out what is lacking and fix it!  My issue was my process and I wish I would have examined it earlier.  Now that I have our company are gaining new clients weekly.

My two suggestions for other small business owners is to use social media for your business and charge your value!  Thanks to social media we have no boundaries when it comes to business.  I am able to interact with clients all around the world through Twitter and those clients are able to see my content through Facebook and my media appearances on LinkedIn.  Clients are able to see my speaking style on Youtube and see how I practice my financial philosophy on Instagram through pictures!  Social Proof gets you hired quickly because people can try you before they buy you.  So you must be on social media!  If you are service oriented stop charging for time.  I now charge for my value.  When I first started out if I went to speak to 100 college students about financial literacy I would back down if someone didn’t approve of my $2,900 fee when in reality the tuition to go to the college was $20,000 a student per year.  If I was able to show one student out of that one hundred how to get control of their money so they don’t drop out then I just made that college $20,000!  Once I saw my value, I started charging even more and now I don’t back down!

Michael and Emily Roels

Make and Emily

We decided to start Essential Balanced Bodywork because we wanted to help people suffering from pain heal with a therapy that most people don’t know exists. We also wanted to provide a high quality advanced level of massage therapy that would enhance our client’s quality of life.

Essential:  We all have a body and it is the most amazing machine on earth. All machines need maintenance.

Balanced:  Taking a holistic approach to create an individualized treatment for each client. Treatments are based on past and present mental and physical traumas including car accidents, injuries, surgeries, etc.

Bodywork:  As licensed massage therapists we have the ability to manipulate soft tissue in the body, which are muscles. Most traditional therapies focus on one’s symptoms, not the underlying problem. Typically, what’s causing the symptoms are not located where we feel our pain.

Our three biggest challenges have been:

  1. Overcoming the stigma of what most people think about massage therapy. Massage chains offer low prices for massage. Typically there is a high turnover and your therapist is more than likely new to the profession.
  2. Time management; to be a great therapist you need to take care of yourself and not burn yourself out.
  3. Choosing the proper marketing techniques for your type of business. There are many options for advertising and some are very expensive and ineffective.

We are pleased that our three biggest accomplishments are:

  1. Helping hundreds of people in our first year experience relief from their pain when traditional medicine and other therapies were ineffective.
  2. Being elected as a board member of the Lewisville-Clemmons Chamber of Commerce, which was a huge honor.
  3. Being asked to serve on the Advisory Board for the Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech at Innovation Quarter.

One thing that we would you do differently is to have interviewed more people for creating our original website.

Our suggestions for current or existing business owners are as follows:

  1. Networking groups are a great resource for a new business.
  2. Get involved in the community.
  3. Work hard but don’t burn yourself out.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Have faith in your purpose.
  6. Have fun!

Dawn Peters

Black Mountain Chocolate

Black Mountain Chocolate is a purveyor of small batch artisan bean-to-bar chocolate located in Reynolda Village and Trade Street in Winston-Salem. Dawn Peters, the company’s Creator of Chocolate Happiness, contacted the Small Business Center to discuss it’s services.

“I’m a former teacher, and deciding to purchase Black Mountain Chocolate with my husband, Brent, a tax attorney, is a second act for us,” Dawn says. “I had no retail experience before opening up our retail shop in Reynolda Village in November 2013. My 10 one-on-one counseling sessions with Allan were invaluable. Our business involves marketing, finance and production—we can’t be experts in all of them, so that’s why I consulted with Allan.”

Before opening their production facility on Trade Street the Fall of 2014, Dawn took face-to-face classes in the Small Business Center in QuickBooks and social media marketing, as well as online business modules that she could explore at her own pace.

Is it too early to tell if all the careful preparation is paying off? “Sales so far are well above expectations,” says Brent. “We believe our early success came directly from Dawn’s one-on-one counseling with Allan.”

Krishauna Hines-Gaither and Julian Gaither


Julian Gaither’s church in Clemmons supports an orphanage in Kenya. Every two years, he travels there on a mission trip. When he returns, he brings back beautiful jewelry from a local market for his wife, Krishauna.

Their friends loved the jewelry, Julian says. “People made a big deal about it,” he recalls. “So we thought, well, maybe we could make a business out of this. It would be a way of giving something back to the community.”

The next step: Julian and Krishauna (a Forsyth Tech alumna and Spanish instructor at Salem College) contacted the Small Business Center. “I met there with a counselor, Dick Vann, initially, and I took a few of the small business courses. The people were really helpful and encouraging,” Julian remembers. “It made a tremendous difference; it gave me the confidence to go ahead and pursue it and see what I could do.”

Once he made that decision, Julian contacted people at the orphanage, sent some money over and asked his friends there to buy some jewelry at the local market. He and Krishauna rented a kiosk at the Marketplace Mall on Peters Creek Parkway and the business took off.

“The jewelry is from the Masai people,” Julian notes. “They have an open market there every Friday; that’s where I would go to get gifts to bring back home.”

As the business grew, it also branched out. “Now we also have things from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, China and India,” Julian says. Although the business is for profit, he sends back a portion of his profits to the orphanage in Kenya.

The business celebrated its first anniversary on April 15. February was a particularly good month; “We had a lot of shoppers because it was Black History Month. It was great. We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the community.”

Imani African Jewelry and Accessories is located in the center aisle kiosk at Marketplace Mall, 2101 Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem, and is open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with
extended holiday and summer hours.

Ken Craven

Ken Craven

When Ken Craven was laid off in September 2009, he did his best to find a job doing what he had been doing for years: video production. But after sending out about 500 resumes and getting only a few interviews (and no job offers), Ken decided a change was in order. “I had a few of my previous clients call me that were interested in having me do video production and my first reaction was, ‘Absolutely not. I’m never going to do that again,’” Ken recalls. Instead, he developed an idea for a wholesale import company, and went to the Forsyth Tech Small Business Center to get some advice on how to set up the business. There he met with Richard Vann who, after talking to Ken, steered him in a different direction – backwards.

“He really helped re-direct me back into what my real profession was,” Ken says. “He thought since clients were seeking me out that I should re-think the video business. So I gathered my equipment and started free-lancing, and the freelancing has developed into me starting my own business.” The guidance and support he’s received at the Small Business Center, Ken says, has been vital in many ways. “They helped me out with direction and also just understanding what needs to be done as in filling out the paperwork, understanding the process, the little things, the basic things so many people don’t understand. The average person who’s never owned their own business has no idea the amount of paperwork and red tape that goes on to get a business started.”

Now, with his freelance business growing, Ken isn’t interested in finding a fulltime job working for someone else. Instead, he prefers to grow his own business. “It’s rapidly going from freelance producer to small business owner,” he says, and credits the Small Business Center with helping make that happen. “They played a pretty big roll.”

Barry and Pamela Johnson


In August 2013, Barry and Pamela Johnson began their relationship with the Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech. They participated in our seminars during their quest to embark upon a new business venture.  They continued to participate in seminars and engage in business counseling.  They have now started their business and meet with a business counselor on a monthly basis.

The Johnsons decided to start their own business because they wanted freedom over their time, independence, and the pride of being small business owners.  They firmly believe that small business owners are the backbone of our country.   They bought into the franchise of Zippy Shell which is a mobile self-storage and moving business.  They chose Zippy Shell because its model provided a well-laid plan to be successful in business. The business is asset-based and the start-up phase did not require other employees. Also, there is no perishable stock, and they liked the idea of providing a needed service to the community.

The Johnsons three biggest challenges have been and still are capital, marketing, and unresponsive vendors.  Daily expenses quickly eat up their revenues during the startup phase.  We will continue to work with the Johnsons regarding revenue generation and cost management.  Finding the right marketing strategy has been a significant challenge also. Surprisingly, they have had a big challenge with unresponsive vendors.  We will continue to work with the Johnsons regarding marketing strategy.  Unfortunately, other small businesses have proven to be in no hurry to provide the Johnsons with their services.  We will continue to work with the Johnsons regarding vendor management.

The Johnsons three biggest accomplishments are as follows:

  1. Getting everything in place to start this venture.
  2. Being asked to be a part of the media tour of Forsyth Tech at Innovation Quarter.
  3. Stepping out of their comfort zone and acquiring new skills.

I asked them what two things they would do differently.  Their response was that they would have started taking the seminars at the Small Business Center sooner.  They feel that they missed some seminars that could have helped during the startup stage.  They also would have acquired more capital before starting.

Piedmont Zippy Shell has several customers and numerous inquiries each week.  Their marketing efforts have created a buzz here in the Piedmont Triad.  I am very pleased that we will continue to partner with the Johnsons as they experience even more success.