If you have been planning on starting a business you’ve probably heard this already: Go to Crown Heights Young Entrepreneurs (CHYE). If you take this advice, you will most likely at some point end up sitting down with Mr. Yehuda Berg, business mentor extraordinaire and all around good guy. Yehuda has been doing this for a long time, in many different communities and for many different organizations.
He joined up with CHYE just a few years ago, and already has sat down with aspiring entrepreneurs over 500 times, with the 500th coming this past month. Multiple successful businesses have been launched by the men and women Mr. Berg has mentored, and he looks forward to seeing many more.
What kind of advice and coaching do people typically need? “Some people are really starting from scratch” says Yehuda. “To start with they just need help figuring out if their idea is at all feasible”. Many others already have functioning businesses, and are looking to take it to the next level, “They are looking for clarity, for a new direction”.
Such was the case for Yechiel Nadler of Nadler Cabinet Services. A year ago, he sat down with Yehuda just to get another outlook on the issues he was dealing with. He walked away from that meeting with a lot more than that. “Yehuda understood my business on a level I did not expect”, says Yechiel. “He saw angles and perspectives that I did not, that have turned out to be incredibly valuable to my business. I left with a clearer strategy than I had ever had before.”
On a more practical level, there are specific things that businesses often need help with, and Yehuda’s deep experience and extensive contact list have proven very helpful to many.
The first of these areas is legal. It’s essential that businesses legally own all their intellectual property and have the legal right to use the names and materials they want. Making sure that all owners and partners have properly delineated rights and responsibilities is also massively important. Yehuda helps people find the legal assistance they need through his extensive contacts with lawyers, copyright experts, and the officials in charge of licensing and permitting. “Because of my years of experience, I can help streamline the process of finding the services you need, and I make navigating the red tape easier and less time consuming,” he explains.
Another big challenge businesses face is funding. Yehuda helps businesses find the funding they need by helping put together bank loan applications, or making connections with community lending services that look to help entrepreneurs in our communities. “I have good working relationships with the directors of many loan providers,” he explains “And if I recommend someone to them, their application is more likely to go through because the director trusts that I’m sending them a serious person.” This was the case for Boruch Borodkin of BB Phone Repair, who was able to secure an interest-free loan from the Hebrew Free Loan Society thanks to Yehuda’s guidance.
Yehuda mentors entrepreneurs because a lifetime in economics and business management prepared him for it, and because he is good at it. It’s more than that for him though, it’s also a passion. “I love seeing these dreams come to fruition” he says, “there’s nothing like watching it come together, step by step, until there’s an actual, functioning, profitable business being run by a confident entrepreneur with skills he or she never thought they had inside of them.”
We all have dreams, and if you’re dream is to run your own business someday, your dream may be closer to reality than you think. With the help of Hashem and assistance from people like Yehuda Berg at CHYE, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.