Pandemic leads to resource renaissance for long-time Chicago business owner
After more than 45 years of business, Dante Hamilton, owner of Internet Webpages Newspaper Inc., has found himself in a resource renaissance thanks to the newly prevalent online tools that have been available since the beginning of the pandemic.
Dante’s entrepreneurial journey began in 1977. When he was a teenager, he turned to art and graphic design as a creative outlet to keep him out of trouble. He learned calligraphy, a skill he inherited from his father, and became a freelance commercial artist in his spare time. He honed his skills at his technical high school in Cleveland, Ohio and when he was 18, won a scholarship to a local community college.
But, after realizing he had gained the experience he needed in high school, Dante went back into the workforce instead–freelancing and working part-time in order to finance his business. By the late 90s, he was able to operate his graphic and web design business full time.
The key to Dante’s long term success has been networking. He marketed himself at events, and his customers followed. He even met his lawyer through networking at his co-working space.
He says, “Before the pandemic, all I really needed was a business card.”
Now, that has all changed. In some ways it is easier to find business, and in fact, Dante has seen more growth in his business in the last two years than ever before, but he finds it isolating to work remotely and only meet people virtually.
Nevertheless, the resources that Dante has been able to access during this time are unprecedented. Through Small Business Majority’s webinars, he was able to connect with Crowdfund Better, and was accepted into their program as a result. He has also found funding opportunities through the Community First Accelerate Grants for Small Business, Live Plan, and was recently accepted into the 1871 Chicago’s BLKtech Founders Cohort program.
Dante reflects on all he has learned in the past three years about financial wellness, business planning and cash flow management and marvels at where he could be as a business if he had known more when he first started.
Business ownership has given Dante freedom and flexibility with his time, while taking time to find resources and learn about the inner workings of business planning and finance has given him the opportunity to have true financial independence.
In 2023, Dante is using the tools–and funding–he has gained to expand his business and invest in a new venture, PersonalizedNewspaper.com, which will serve as a direct to consumer marketing tool for Black-owned digital native brands.
He says, “When you’re a business owner, you have to look into ways to automate and scale your business. You have to be able to know your finances.”