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Read the following case study and answer the questions that follow.Belinda Guardarrama

The business plan, although often criticized as being "dream of glory," is probably the single most important document to the entrepreneur at the start-up stage. Potential investors are not likely to consider investing in a new venture until the business plan has been completed. In addition, the business plan helps the entrepreneur maintain perspective as to what needs to be accomplished.

The development and preparation of a business plan can entail a number of obstacles and takes s strong commitment by an entrepreneur before it can actually be completed and then implemented. No one knows this better than Belinda Guardarrama, the president and the CEO of GC Micro Corporation. Her company supplies computer hardware and software to Fortune 1000 Company as well as the defence and aerospace industry.

As the entrepreneur of this now multi-million-dollar company, Belinda has been recognized by two Hispanic organizations - the U. S Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Latin Business Association - as Hispanic Business woman of the year 2002. She also was a runner-up for National Small Business Person of the year and her firm has been ranked among the 500 largest Hispanic-owned companies

Although today she is successful entrepreneur, the journey was a long and arduous process with a number of highs and lows. After graduating from Trinity University and taking a number of graduate courses at the University of Texas and Austin, she began working for the Texas attorney general as the director of personal and training. She later moved to California during the 1980s technology boom to work for a mail-order software company. Like many others, she arrived at work one day to find a note on the door indicating that the business was closed.

At that point, Belinda made the decision to start her own business. She felt it was a great time to take some risk since she had no job and limited prospects. In 1986, with a few former co-workers, she launched GC Micro Corporation. To raise initial capital and money for other expenses while a business plan was being developed, she sold her house and cashed in her retirement money. She made a conscious decision at this point to put everything on the line. Eventually, with business plan in hand, she began knocking on doors to try to raise money for the start-up. It was then she began to face some of the lows in the entrepreneurial process as she incurred on rejection after another. She could not even get a bank to lend her $ 5,000 to keep going. Fortunately, she persisted until she came upon the Small Business Administration (SABA) loan program that guarantees a large percentage of a loan through a local participating bank. After submitting her plan through this program, she received her first loan from a local bank.

       Raising the start-up capital was only one of the early obstacles that she overcame. Being a woman and a Latina, she had to overcome many negative stereo-types. In one meeting with a potential client she was told that as a minority woman she did not have sufficient management qualification to represent its product line and was hence turned down. However, her hard work and persistence paid off and at the end of the first year of business the company attained revenue of $209, 000.With this success, the client that turned her down changed its mind and she became an authorized dealer for its product.

         Other success followed and soon she was pursuing contracts with the U.S Department of Defence. In this researching, she discovered that many government contractors are required to include a percentage of minority-owned business as sub-contractors. She also discovered that there were not enough minority-owned businesses, presenting great opportunities for her ventures. However, as she continued to investigate her opportunities she found she was blocked from records to which she had previously had access. She decided to this pursue in court, knowing that this could put her entire on the line. Subsequently the case, GC Micro Corporation V. Defence Logistics Agency reached the courts and then dragged on for several years. During this time, her business was in jeopardy since many companies stated they would no longer work with her. Eventually she won her case. Her reputation as someone not afraid to take a stand and with strong leadership skills spread throughout the industry.

         GC Micro Corporation now has 14, warehouse across the U. S., representing inventory of more than 280, 00 products valued at more than $2 billion. The fruit of Belinda's successful business plan now include authorized dealer partnerships with many Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, Cisco, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and Toshiba.

Case Questions:

a)  With justification from the case study, analyze five entrepreneurial characteristics exhibited by Belinda and how they affected her business.                                                (7 marks)

b)  With evidence from the case study examine five entrepreneurial competencies applied by Belinda and how they impacted on her business.                                                                   (6 marks)

c)   Argue out the challenges Belinda encountered and she may have overcome them.                                                                  (7 marks)

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