THEN: When we first profiled Rhonda Lashen in 1996, Fortunately Yours Inc. was doing well in its innovative niche: selling fortune cookies as marketing tools to big corporate clients.
NOW: Lashen's business got serious exposure in 1999 when the entrepreneur was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Boosted by the response, Lashen created a Web site (www.fortunatelyyours.com) that sells her fortune cookies and other products: chocolate baby announcements, chocolate coins with companies' names on them and more. In 2000-with clients like Walt Disney Co. and Marriott Residence Inns-she expects to gross about $1.7 million in sales.
"If you grow too fast, you can't handle everything," says Lashen. "My customers like that I'm still the one talking to them [personally]. We're able to build a rapport."
Contracts To Kill
THEN: In September 1996, we covered Sen. Christopher Bond's (R-MO) proposed HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) Act, which would require participating companies to employ at least 35 percent of their work force from a HUBZone, with 50 percent of the work of any federal contract done in the HUBZone.
NOW: The HUBZone program
recently celebrated a milestone, registering its 1,000th
participating small business. Nearly 8,000 communities nationwide
are designated HUBZones, and the number of businesses registered is
expected to rise after a nationwide outreach by the SBA. According
to the SBA, the HUBZone annual contracting goal is expected to
reach its maximum level by fiscal year 2003-translating to 3
percent of overall prime contracting, or an estimated $6 billion a
year in federal contracts. To find out whether your company is in a
HUBZone, visit www.sba.gov/hubzone.
-C.E.G. & N.L.T.