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SBA - Cherokee Data Solutions

A growing trend of the unemployed is when you can’t find a job, make your own. We meet Pamela Bickford of Cherokee Data Systems who did just that and started her own successful small business.
SBA - Cherokee Data Solutions

Pamela Bickford

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Cherokee Data Solutions
Small Business Administration

Show Dates

Show 1031: SBA - Cherokee Data Solutions

Air date: August 1, 2010

 

Transcript

Rob:  Well, a growing trend of the unemployed is when you can’t find a job, make your own.  Such gumption is what helped the woman in our next story start her own successful small business.

In this week’s Building Oklahoma segment, we meet Pamela Bickford of Cherokee Data Systems.

Pamela Bickford:  We have accounts with all the major distributors in North American, in fact, globally, for technology, office supply, and promotional products; which are the three areas that we’re in.  And, and that’s kind of exciting because when I started the business, I was, as I said, a stay at home mom, I had no credit history, and uh, none; therefore, I couldn’t get a debit card actually, not even like a loan.  And so, I had to work a night job to fund the business and, and that’s what I did until all the distributors began giving me lines of credit.  Now what that did for the company was that now we have millions of dollars in lines of credit, we’ve never taken a loan, we’re debt free, the company.  Being forced to be on a cash basis, I knew exactly what I could bid and what I couldn’t bid, basically, when to walk away from an opportunity; and, and it’s caused us to follow those very guidelines today.  We know what we can bid, what we can win, what we can perform on; and consequently you can see the performance ratings that you do from Dunn & Bradstreet and they’re pretty astonishing ratings, but it’s because we know where we stand.  As an SBA participant, if you listen they will tell you, pay attention to performance, pay attention to what you commit to.  And all of that turns out when you go to get a GSA schedule, they do what’s called a Performance Review and they will go out to your customers, they do a survey, and we had a 100% response on our survey and near perfect scores on our performance review.  Oklahoma is home to 39 tribes, no other state can boast that.  What, what that means to us economically as a state for Indian Incentive Act, for government federal contracting, for dollars coming from outside of the state into Oklahoma, enormous opportunity.  There’s no other state that can compete on the ground that Oklahoma can compete on when it comes to federal contracting.  And I would love to see that leveraged even more, and we’re doing our part and I know others are as well, to bring those dollars here.  But for the people, in working with people in the state of Oklahoma, the dedication and the loyalty to the state, you just don’t see it anywhere else in the country.  You know, life is life, you know, things really come along right when you least expect it; like a, a son who’s playing a baseball game and shatters the C1 and C2 in his neck.  And you’re trying to start a business and workin’ all night funding it and then running it the next day with little or no sleep and all of a sudden you have a kid laid up for nine months with a broken neck.  It’s quite a challenge in the middle of starting a business, finding out that you have skin cancer is a challenge, in fact we had two different run ins with two surgeries, it was pretty serious; and then, went through two bouts of chemo.  And uh, and those didn’t prevent me from working, they just prevented me from seeing people for a while.  But those challenges have on you, when you’ve gotta have a plan to keep going, because if you stop, you fail; if you don’t stop, you never fail.  When I started the company, I, I wanted an opportunity to stay home, my kids to stay home, I had no idea you got awards for doing just doing what you said you were gonna do.  So this is a, a pretty neat thing, but more than that, when people take a chance on you, the SBA took a chance on me, the Cherokee Nation took a chance on me, there were some waivers that I was given, and opportunity.  And, and to come back and say, you kept your word and you did well, and then for those organizations to give you an award, it is really, it just doesn’t get any better than that.  And I appreciate, I appreciate the opportunity to be a champion for them.

Rob:  And our congratulations go out to Ms Bickford, who is this year’s Small Business Associations’ Minority Business Champion.