The United States has nearly 30 million small businesses, the engines of our nation’s economy. According to a report published by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, women own 36 percent of all businesses. Among Hispanic-owned businesses, that percentage rises to 44 percent. On average, Latina-owned businesses that employ workers create an average of seven jobs and have $766,000 in annual sales.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes many of these success stories, particularly Josephine Gradillas.

Josephine is the founder of Gradillas Court Reporters, a licensed California court reporting and litigation support business. The work that she does makes an impact, especially when witnesses are under oath. The transcripts that her business supplies are extremely important and are used in making legal decisions and conclusions.

“With serious research and follow up effort, you may find the right person to talk to that needs your services.”

Undiscovered potential

Josephine’s small business was growing steadily. In 2010 took advantage of the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which helps socially and economically disadvantaged individuals gain a foothold in government contracting. The program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year development stage and a five-year transition stage.

Although she maintained non-governmental work prior to becoming an 8(a) certified company, she would receive only occasional requests from government agencies requiring court reporting assignments. That all changed after Josephine received her 8(a) certification.

“Very shortly after becoming certified, I called the regional director of a large government agency and explained I was a court reporter and a certified 8(a) firm.  The response was, ‘You’re a court reporter and you’re an 8(a)? I have been looking for someone like you!’”

Josephine said that phone call resulted in immediate job settings which have been increasing in quantity and quality ever since.  “This may not happen each and every time but it reflects that with serious research and follow up effort, you may find the right person to talk to that needs your services,” she continued. 

Success

Josephine’s small business has earned a positive reputation as a “go-to” firm when agencies need a court reporter.  She gained this ability from 30 years of experience within the legal community and her relationships with court reporters all over the country. Josephine is a terrific example of Latina entrepreneurship and a symbol of the many ways the SBA supports entrepreneurs as they start and grow their businesses.

As Associate Administrator of the SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development, I oversee a nationwide network of programs and services that support the training and counseling needs of small business owners like Josephine. Each year, we are positioned to help more entrepreneurs achieve success.  Our vast resource partner network helps over one million entrepreneurs which include the Women’s Business Development Centers (WBCs), the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and SCORE. We know that entrepreneurs receiving their assistance are more likely to start a business and successfully obtain financing critical to business growth.

Owning a business is one of the most effective ways to secure a financial future for ourselves, provide for our families, exercise our commitments to our communities and drive our country’s economic growth. The SBA offers counseling and access to capital, both through our 68 district offices and our resource partners in communities nationwide.