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Guiding Light

Feeling a little lost at the helm of your business? Don't worry: A peer group can help you find your way out of the darkness.

This story appears in the August 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It is a Thursday morning, and normally, Cynthia Malcom would be tending to her business. But today, she's sitting in a classroom, listening to a lecture with a handful of other adults.

Actually, she is tending to her business. It just doesn't look like it at first glance. Malcom is attending BYOB, and no, it's not what you think. This is Build Your Own Business, a 10-week program for anybody who wants to run a company. Situated in a spacious but almost barren room on the second floor of the Cincinnati Business Incubator, BYOB targets residents in underserved, urban neighborhoods. Malcom and her classmates are paying $50 for 20 hours of instruction from a seasoned entrepreneur; after the class is over, they can receive ongoing free services, like financial counseling and tax preparation from BYOB's nonprofit organization, Smart Money Community Services in Cincinnati.

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