start a business
CIE’s Community Enterprise program is your place to find training and one-on-one support to help you launch and grow your business.
APPLY: Click here to complete and submit our online application. If you are eligible and have a business goal that is a good fit for our program, we will send you information on how to register for the First Step course and pay the $20 intake fee. Please note that we give priority to low-income individuals from underserved communities. Click here to learn more about our application review process. Please note: we are currently not taking new enrollments in our Seattle program, as we are focusing our time in King County on current client needs. You are welcome to attend our First Step trainings at Edmonds Community College, but we may not be able to provide ongoing one-on-one support to King County residents at this time.
TAKE THE FIRST STEP: Our First Step course is a “reality check” designed to help you assess your readiness and the feasibility of your business idea and get to a quick “go or no go” decision. This class is approximately 8 hours, offered in group sessions. It is held monthly at multiple locations. Check our event calendar for details.
BECOME A MEMBER: Community Enterprise membership is reserved for people who have successfully completed the First Step course with a realistic and achievable business goal. Membership is free. Member benefits are constantly growing, and currently include:
- One-on-One Support
Our one-on-one business advising is the heart and soul of our program, where our highly-experienced business advocates can customize person-centered support to meet you where you are and address your specific and unique gifts, challenges, and business ideas. We can help you write a business plan, apply for a loan, develop strategies to find and keep customers, and build tools to help you manage your business finances and operations.
- Lean Launch Meet Ups
How does your business make money? Have a wacky business puzzle to solve? Want to bounce ideas of others? If this sounds like you, you’ll want to join our meet-ups. Lean Launch Meet Ups are an experiential “business planning in action” process using the innovative “lean startup” approach in a supported peer-learning and mentor-supported environment to help you develop a business model that will support sustainable profits.
- Free legal advice at Wayfind business legal clinics.
- Connections to volunteer business mentors through MicroMentor.
- Opportunity to apply for an “incubator loan” of up to $1,000 through our partnership with Mercy Corps Northwest.
ONLINE TOOL KIT: Want to improve your business, but don't have time to become a Community Enterprise member or attend monthly classes? Don't worry, we understand. And, to make sure you're not left out, we've curated a selection of helpful resources.
QUESTIONS? If you have any questions or would like more information about us or our intake process or our program, contact us by email or call us at 425-CIE-7366.