Thursday, February 24, 2005 | About half of all privately held businesses in San Diego County are at least 50 percent owned by a woman. These 107,837 businesses generated $30 billion in annual sales in 2004 and employ 354,168 people, according to data from the Center for Women’s Business Research, a Washington, D.C. organization that tracks women owned businesses across the United States.

Launched in October 2003, the Women’s Business Center of California (WBCC), a partnership between the Small Business Administration and National University, has helped more than 600 San Diego clients-both startups and established companies.

At a recent Financial Forum sponsored by WBCC, I talked with two women business owners.

Lisa A. Barnett, 29, launched Your Personal Concierge (YPC) 18 months ago. “We do everything as long as it’s legal and ethical,” she said. Prior to starting YPC, Barnett worked as a distributor for an international wine company. She worked long hours and never had time to see her family and friends. Any free time was spent going shopping and doing other errands. Hence the idea for YPC whose “goal is to give the gift of time.” Barnett and her partner, her brother, work out of their houses, and she also employs two other family members part-time. Her most unusual request was from a well-known psychic who asked her to call Hollywood celebrities to let them know he was in town to do a reading. Financing is always a challenge for a new business, and Barnett is fortunate that her savings have been enough so far. Marketing, currently her biggest challenge, has focused on flyers, attending community events, and donating “YPC” gift certificates at charity auctions.

Denise M. Luna knows that many restaurants and night clubs survive less than one year. Nonetheless, she is moving ahead with her dream to launch the Luna Lounge, a high end restaurant and cocktail lounge across from Petco Park. Scheduled to open by summer, the Luna Lounge will feature Asian fusion cuisine and light music in an historic building at 7th and J Streets. “I’ve worked in restaurants since I was a child. I know what I’m in for,” Luna said. Opening a restaurant is not cheap. Luna has financed the six-figure cost with savings from her more than 10 years in real estate and bank loans.

– Barbara Bry, Voice Editor

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