In 1986 Valerie McCloud started a small company, McCloud & Associates, that provided book-keeping and accounting services for local businesses in Greenville, North Carolina. 31 years later, her business has burgeoned into a community-oriented company serving both businesses and government agencies. The company now has multiple divisions and employs over 40 people.
Valerie spent a decade working in management at a communication company before taking the plunge to start her own business. However, she always had the mindset to go out on her own having been strongly influenced by her parents who were both entrepreneurs. Another major factor that influenced Valerie to start her own company was that she wanted to create and provide career opportunities to underemployed individuals in her community, she wanted to have a positive impact on people’s lives and encourage them to expand their minds—a commitment that continues to drive McCloud & Associates today.
Valerie used her expertise and experience in management early on to find and groom strong leaders to help oversee operations at McCloud & Associates. With this leadership in place, Valerie was able to direct her attention to researching new ways to develop and diversify the business. As Valerie’s company expanded into new territory, she ensured the business continued to support and strengthen the local community.
The foundation of McCloud & Associates is grounded in business management, accounting, training, and data processing, the subjects that Valerie had studied academically. In addition to providing business services in these fields, the company also created a proprietary training center to teach underemployed individuals marketable skills and help them find employment opportunities that pay more than minimum wage. From this base, the company has branched into related fields such as library science, medical transcription, record management, personal care, and supported employment services. Today, the company continues to diversify its operations.
As the company expanded into new fields, Valerie was able to leverage revenue from the more profitable divisions to help subsidize the community-oriented services. She developed a non-profit department that writes grants and supports the tutoring of four hundred students and their families. The Department has a success rate of 95% at helping at-risk students significantly increase their academic performance. The company focuses these efforts on the local at-risk population who may otherwise fall through the cracks without these opportunities. Additionally, the company supports people with disabilities by teaching them employment skills and helping place them with employment opportunities at local businesses. The company also provides ongoing support to these individuals for 90 days to ensure they are successful at their new jobs. Valerie estimates her business has directly helped over 400 people and their families. What’s really rewarding is when she sees people that her business has supported in the past rise up to become leaders in the community and making their own positive impact—creating a “virtuous cycle” in North Carolina.
It hasn’t been all roses though. Like all business owners, Valerie has faced her challenges. She believes the biggest obstacle she’s had to overcome is getting sufficient capital. Luckily, in today’s world there are alternative ways to access capital. Valerie recently obtained a term loan through LendingClub to further grow her business. She’s planning on using the funds to expand a new division around education and youth leadership.
Over the next five years, Valerie is aiming to take her already successful business to a higher level. She plans to continue to expand and share the mission of McCloud & Associates. Valerie’s passion is helping people and her company’s primary goal is to help others meet their goals, and thus improving their lives.
Her advice to new business owners follows these principles: You need to have a true passion for whatever you do. You’ll face challenges and obstacles and you’ll need to have the drive and strength to overcome them and to not give up. You can’t control everything that happens but you can control how you react to a situation. It’s critical to maintain a positive and professional attitude regardless of what you’re facing. Her final piece of advice for success is to find something that the world needs, something that you have the talent to fulfill, and build your business to provide that missing service.
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