40 Stories for 40 Years – Profilee 17
When Laura first came to New Ventures Maine, she was a 25-year old single mom with a one-year-old daughter. At that time, she was struggling to make ends meet with the limited resources she was receiving from TANF. Facing this struggle, Laura wanted to figure out a way to support both she and her daughter through self-employment.
Even though her DHHS case manager wanted her to find a traditional job, Laura had a different vision. With an Associate’s Degree in Human Services and firsthand experience working in the mental health world, Laura knew that she could make a big difference in Maine by offering mental health services to children. After advocating for herself and her business idea, she was referred to NVME in July 2015 for guidance.
Building Her Future
When Laura met with NVME, her goals included writing a business plan “good enough for a commercial lender,” to start her business, and to earn enough money to breakeven during the first six months. Incredibly, Laura was able to meet each of these goals. In six months, she had written her business plan, secured financing, and she received approval from the State of Maine to open her business.
Black Bear Support Services, LLC started in February 2016. The business earned $160,000 of sales in its first year and then doubled this amount in the second year. Now, BBSS is grossing one million dollars a year and is expanding services.
Black Bear Support Services, LLC has offices in Lewiston, Portland, and Augusta. They started with five employees and now have sixty-five staff members. Laura is also excited to share that this year the business is growing again as it expands its services from children to adults.
Laura reflects, “I am not sure I would have mentally gotten through writing a business plan without NVME. With their help, I stayed on track, stayed motivated and believed in myself. Without NVME, I wouldn’t have been able to reach my goals of being with my daughter every day and to create this business to support us.”
In advice to others, she says, “I encourage everyone to find their calling and to never underestimate themselves. Believing in yourself is the first step in building your future.”