Five companies that can help grow your St. Paul business

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Whether your business is turning six-figure profits or just getting started out of your home, there is a lot to learn.

If you’re looking for community or financial support, legal advice, marketing tips, or all of the above, someone before you has been there, done that, and made it through. Whether you can spare $1,000 a month, $50 or just need some free advice, there are local resources you can turn to.

Here are five organizations recommended by local entrepreneurs that have helped them launch, grow and sustain their businesses:

Lunar Startups

Based in St. Paul, Lunar Startups is a six-month cohort accelerator program that helps Black, Indigenous, other people of color, LGBTQ+, women and nonbinary entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.

Once accepted into the program, members of the cohort have access to weekly workshops that cover topics such as how to manage a team and the importance of trademarks and crafting a budget, said Tierra Anderson, program manager.

In addition to weekly workshops, business owners have access to a network of more than 100 local experts to answer questions as they come up and are paired with a coach they meet with throughout the course of the program.

Anderson said one benefit that sets Lunar Startups apart is its free legal service that members are encouraged to use for up to four hours a month.

Tameka Jones, owner of St. Paul’s Lip Esteem near the corner of Selby Avenue and Victoria Street, took part in Lunar Startups’ program two years ago. She said the admission process is selective, but through it she was able to find a group of like-minded entrepreneurs who were all learning how to scale their businesses.

To join the program, prospective members must fill out that year’s application, which is released in January, and make it through additional interview phases.

Anderson said depending on one’s business type, certain benchmarks have to be met in order to be considered. For example, if you have a consumer packaged goods business, your product doesn’t need to be on retail shelves, but you do need to have a product to show.

The annual program is funded through grants and donations and generally takes between 12 and 17 people, Anderson said, and costs members $100 a month to participate.

Once the program is done, Anderson said participants will have “a hype squad for life” in the alumni network. “(Entrepreneurism) is a very lonely road so we take pride in taking the community aspect seriously,” she said.


SCORE is a primarily online resource for entrepreneurs that helps businesses through every stage — from launch to growth to passing it down to future generations, said Chris Wicker, chairperson of SCORE Twin Cities.

There are three main pillars of service that SCORE offers: one-to-one mentoring, education and an online library of resources.

Wicker, who first started as a SCORE client in 2013 with his cleaning business, said mentors can answer questions covering such topics as writing a marketing strategy and creating cash flow for a lending request. “I talked to my mentor every week for a year and a half,” Wicker said. “I am the poster child for using SCORE exhaustively.”

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