Starting and maintaining a small business is a huge challenge. To do so in the midst of a global pandemic is that much tougher. Help for Downtown small businesses is available right now; P.A.C.E., a coaching program created in 2019 by Downtown’s Fuller Management Corporation (FMC) in partnership with the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA), will continue to offer free, multi-dimensional assistance to Downtown small business owners through September, 2021.

Kena Fuller

Kena Fuller, CEO of small business consultancy FMC and creator of P.A.C.E. (Planning, Action, Coaching, Entrepreneurship), has guided over 70 small businesses through the P.A.C.E. program. Any owner who pays the annual assessment fee in Downtown’s Business Improvement District and has an up-to-date business license can get help too, by signing up for one-on-one, virtual P.A.C.E. sessions on DLBA’s website.

“I initially signed up for the P.A.C.E. program earlier this year after business shutdowns began due to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Maggie Stoll, who owns and operates the clothing boutique Burke Mercantile in Downtown’s East Village. “As I was finding myself having to continually pivot my business through the crisis, I got overwhelmed. I was looking for someone who could help me get focused, organized, and strategic to handle the many challenges that were being thrown my way. Kena has been beneficial to me in a way no one has before.”

Fuller brings a passion for small business coaching and over 20 years of business development, sales, marketing, and management experience to the table. “I consider myself a heart-centered entrepreneur,” she said. “I really love what I do.

“If I’m meeting with a business owner or someone who wants to start a business,” Fuller continued, “I have a series of questions: What does the playing field of their industry look like? How is their business entity defined — are they a sole proprietor or limited liability corporation? How is their business structured?” she explained. “I need to fully understand the present state of their business and what its objectives are. I help the owners formulate a strategic plan. Once we’ve established their goals, we reverse-engineer those goals to ensure that the business is on track. We examine which of their offerings are most fruitful, what their marketing strategy is, really helping them see the big picture.”

Kenny Allen is founder and CEO of Downtown’s Springwave Studios, which provides branding, graphic design, and web design services. He has worked with business coaches for many years, and was delighted to discover Fuller’s free services. “Kena quickly helped me identify the truly important goals for our business, and taught me to zoom out and plan much further ahead for the company,” Allen said. “I worked with her for a few sessions at the beginning of the year, and despite this being an unbelievably challenging year for small businesses everywhere, our company actually managed to exceed our goals for the year. We are booked up for the rest of the year already, which is due in large part to the strategic planning Kena taught me to do.”

Whether a Downtown small business is starting out or starting again, P.A.C.E. can assist through every stage of entrepreneurship. “If someone is looking for support during this stage and always, you have a business coach who is here to support you in any way that is needed,” said Fuller.