Grace Security, LLC

Barbara Strothers has been in the private security business for 14 years. While working as a security guard, she dreamt that one day she would have her own firm. Years passed but she could not do it. Her lack of knowledge on how to start her business, how to manage a business, and how to steer her company towards success was a big deterrent to accomplishing her dream.

However, in July 2012 she attended Duquesne University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) training in the Hill District. She learned the legal, accounting, financial, human resources, marketing, and management aspects of owning a business. The training was an eye opener, and was precisely what she needed to start her business. Barbara then decided she needed further assistance. With the help of an SBDC consultant, she identified her businesses’ needs and completed a sound business plan, one that she submitted to a business plan grant competition organized by Urban Innovation 21. Just a few of the participants were awarded seed money for their business but Barbara won $5,000 in the competition (the second largest amount of money awarded in the competition). Barbara knew that proper assistance and seed money made the perfect combination she needed to succeed.

Relying on the Duquesne University SBDC consulting assistance, she geared her company to success. One year after she and a business partner incorporated Grace Security LLC, her security company has signed two major contracts to provide security services to companies and buildings in the Hill District. Throughout the year, her company has hired nine employees, seven of them full-time, and she is looking to hire more soon.

“People approach me while I am walking on the street to congratulate me. They make me know how proud they are of having one of their own leading the path to a new brighter and safer future in the Hill. They also notice how unusual but rewarding is to see a woman being the CEO of a security firm.”

Starting and learning the many aspects of owning a business have been challenging but rewarding. A network of support that includes Duquesne University, the Hill District Credit Union, Urban Innovation 21, Bridgeway Capital, among many other organizations and individuals, helps immensely, but success mainly buds from an owner’s determination, diligence, and desire to learn.

Reflecting on what has happened in one year, Barbara sees the positive impact her business has had on the Hill District.

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