In fairy tales, the fairy godmother is the female character who has magical powers to bring unexpected good fortune to the main character. In Louisiana, Diane Sclafani has been called the fairy godmother for small business owners as a Business Consultant at Louisiana Small Business Development Center Greater New Orleans and Bayou Region (LSBDC GNOBR). Her magical work with entrepreneurs garnered her the LSBDC’s most coveted award – 2016 State Star.
The State Star is an award recognized by America’s Small Business Development Centers (America’s SBDC) that highlights a person who is an exemplary performer, makes a significant contribution to his or her state and shows a strong commitment to small business.
Since 2013 she has started 17 businesses, created over 115 jobs, and secured nearly $2.1 million in capital infusion. Currently in fiscal year 2016, she has over $1.2 million in loan packages in various stages of approvals and processing.
LSBDC State Director Rande Kessler said, “My eye doctor prescribed an interesting solution for me: a “close-up” contact lens in one eye, and in the other, one for seeing distance. The combination is seamless and works quite well.”
“That is how Dianne sees the food service industry, as well as general small business, for all her clients,” Kessler said. “She sees and analyzes the details and obstacles up close for successfully starting or running a small business, and simultaneously views the distance of potential, possibilities and direction.”
“Her lenses are her experience and her dedication; at the same time she sees both near and far, and for Louisiana small businesses and the LSBDC, that makes her a State Star,” Kessler said.
LSBDC GNOBR Director Carmen Sunda said she’s extremely pleased to see Sclafani recognized for her many accomplishments and added it’s an honor to have her on the GNOBR team.
“[Sclafani] is one of our center’s most energetic and dedicated consultants. She is extremely passionate about assisting business owners in achieving success,” Sunda said.
“She has created an innovative culinary program that delivers intensive training to culinary entrepreneurs providing the managerial skills needed to create growth and business sustainability. The significance of her impact goes well beyond the numbers. She creates positive impact in every business owner’s life.”
Sclafani said it’s an honor to be recognized by the organization she works for, locally and nationally.
“I always tell my clients that their success is my success, we win together,” Sclafani said. “Being chosen has made me want to work harder for them.”
Sclafani said she thoroughly enjoys what she does for Louisiana entrepreneurs, and added that the work she does is more than a job.
“My specialty is in the food businesses,” Sclafani said. “It is my job and my hobby to keep up with the latest and greatest of what is happening in this fabulous food industry to share with my clients.”
Some of her favorite areas of focus are in creating pro formas for clients to understand what is needed to make their business successful, loan packaging, networking with lenders and partners, coaching for pitch competitions and entrepreneur training development.
Sclafani said no two businesses are alike.
“There is no cookie cutter remedy for each situation,” she said. “My greatest compliment is when my clients say, ‘It is nice to know I have someone that knows this food business to talk over my ideas and options during good and rough times.’ I love to help our clients solve problems to allow them to grow the business.
“The best part of my job is helping people achieve their career and business goals.”
Sclafani said she loves helping family businesses because “I feel I am not only helping to save the business but I have clients that say I am helping them save their marriage and family.”
“I am so honored that they trust me and that I am able to help relieve the stress and pressure so that they can think inspired thought to grow their business,” Sclafani said. “They think of me as their business consultant, coach, and business friend that they trust and respect my advice. Recently, a client stated that I was their fairy godmother.”
Sunda added, “An SBDC’s success can only be measured in the success of the businesses we assist. To accomplish this goal, a team member like [Sclafani] is critically important.”