If you've been thinking about starting up a small business out of your home for years, but haven't felt like you knew how to go about about it, Caren Black has the tools to help.

Black is offering a Cottage Industries class this fall at Clatsop Community College, and hopes to see anyone from soap makers, cheese makers, and candle makers to gardeners in the first class next week.

"I hope to help people formalize their ideas so they can understand the nuts and bolts of a business," Black said.

Black taught classes in small business startup during the late 1980s and early 1990s in California. For 10 years, she was a consultant for the Small Business Development Center at Cabrillo College, a two-year school with approximately 16,000 students. There she specialized in startup consulting and financial troubleshooting for businesses in their first five years. In the mid 1990s she taught small business taxes in the School of Business, Cabrillo College. She has also run three of her own small businesses in addition to her work with nonprofits.

Black said she will encourage low-tech, low-energy-input enterprises using local materials and focusing on local markets, but the course is limited only by the imaginations of the students involved.

"The idea is to support our local economy by keeping people working," she said.

The class is a 15-hour course, offered Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 21 and running through October. By the end of the class, each student will have outlined a three-year startup business plan, established a business network with others both inside and outside the class (including mentors) and studied the three areas of small business management (record keeping, financial planning, marketing). They'll know how to capitalize on their strengths and where to get assistance with weaker areas, Black said. The class will also discuss the current economy and innovative ways small local businesses can address the challenges we face today and over the next decade.

Classes will be held at the college campus in Astoria, with two online sessions and a final business networking session to be announced.

To register, contact Clatsop Community College at (503)338-2411.

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