Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Retail Business Builders

April Orme and DaLynne McIntyre co-owners of Bombshells Salon pose in their hair salon.

April Orme and DaLynne McIntyre of Bombshells Salon

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Launch and run your retail business with confidence.

1 in 4 new businesses fail within the first year. And, only 47% of new retail businesses make it past 4 years in operation.*

The upfront costs of opening a retail business – the lease, the build out, the inventory – can be very expensive. The wrong decisions could mean unplanned expenses and not making it past the 1 year mark.

Starting a successful retail business requires proper planning to create a retail brand that attracts and keeps customers coming back. You’ll need to think about your points of sale, inventory and pricing strategy, marketing, customer service, and cash flow.

The Business Builders program is cohort-based enabling you to learn together with business owners from multiple industries and a multitude of perspective. The program breaks down the critical components of opening a business and provides practical how-to’s for making the right decisions when you’re just starting out. Business Builders gives you the training, resources and support you need to develop, start and grow a business towards adaptability, resilience, and profitability, with the goal of building your business, while saving you time, energy and money

The Program

In this 10-week program, you will:

  • Learn how to develop a business model able to innovate and adapt during changing economic conditions
  • Network with other small business owners and learn solutions to navigating these times
  • Hear from experts to ensure your company is compliant
  • Ensure consideration of safety measures for your staff, customers and community are in place
  • Gain clarity about your business within current market conditions
  • Learn how to work on your business in an efficient manner
  • Work and plan one-on-one with a business advisor
  • Learn from subject-matter experts

Each week we’ll bring in subject-matter experts to teach on important areas. Sessions meet weekly for 10-weeks and are 3-hours long. Business Builders is more than just a class. It includes:

  • Group learning and networking to discuss challenges, exchange resources, and find solutions with peers.
  • Up to 5 hours of one-on-one advising during the 10-month period following Business Builders
    Access to specialty business advisors with a wide range of expertise
  • Access to market research resources such as Southern Oregon University Market Research Institute, SBDCNet, Reference USA, MarketLink, and Euromonitor
  • You’ll enjoy 30-hours of online, live classroom business education with 10 weekly, 3-hour sessions taught by subject-matter experts. Subjects include:
    • Defining mission, vision, goals
    • The Business Model Canvas
    • The Pillars of Marketing
    • Building Your Brand
    • Marketing in the age of COVID-19
    • Understanding Legal Concepts
    • Bookkeeping and Finance
    • Pricing is an Art
    • E-Commerce Sales: Virtual Business Model
    • Financing Your Business
The Investment
  • 30 hours in class, divided into 10 weekly, 3-hour sessions
  • Plus, Up to 5 hours of one-on-one advising during the 10 month period following Business Builders


  • Tuition is $799
  • Payment terms are available through Portland Community College
  • An additional person from your business can take the course for 1/2 price, $400

The Return:

  • Invaluable advice from industry experts that will save you years of frustration
  • Support from a network of peers and mentors
  • Confidence to make the right decisions for your new business
The Instructor

Leslie Hildula, MBA

Leslie helps entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Working with the SBDC since 2012, she has been coaching and educating clients in 3 counties, and led the growth of the Retail SBM program. A graduate of Pacific University and Golden Gate University (with a Masters in International Management), Leslie has consulted with business owners throughout the West Coast and overseas. She started her professional career in Silicon Valley in the high tech industry and came back home to Oregon in 1990. In Oregon, she’s had the opportunity to work in both the private and public sectors and understands the vital synergy between them. Her retail clients include Aries Apparel, Crafty Wonderland, Folly, Frock, Ink & Peat, Queen Bee, Radish Underground, Red Castle Games, Salty’s Pet Supply, and Tilde.

What Our Clients Say

“Regardless of your expertise or background, this was extremely eye opening, inspiring and beneficial!!” Vanessa Curry, co-owner of Small Fry

“I walked away from each class with nuggets to take back to my business. It inspired me to be a better business woman.” Elle Poindexter, co-owner of Small Fry

“Even with 10 years of Retail Management experience, there was never a week that I didn’t learn something new!” Sarah Marshall

“It was nice to meet other small business owners (or future) and talk about troubles & pleasures in owning your business.”

“I came into this class with little direction about how to launch my business and I left with greater confidence and meaningful connections. I found it very valuable to hear from successful business owners in the community and found the classroom offered a welcoming and uplifting atmosphere. I look forward to keeping in touch with the Retail Business Builders group and making my mark in the community.” Chanel Urist, Made of Coco

“Having a handful of advisors to talk through decisions with has been absolutely crucial for helping the growth of my business and my confidence in myself to run it.” Sarah Chellis, EyeDentity

Client Interviews

Watch as Leslie Hildula interviews past and present students from her retail business programs and learn about the challenges and solutions to their small business experience. Learn more here.

Upcoming Schedule for Business Builders


Register Now

Find the CRN of your course from the class schedule. Then, register:

  • Online: If this is your first time taking a class at PCC, create an account. If you are a returning student, log on to MyPCC and click “Register for classes,” found in your Term-to-Term Checklist, under “Register”.
  • Phone: Call 971-722-8888, option 2.

Need help? Get detailed information on how to register and how to pay.

*Source: statisticbrain.com/startup-failure-by-industry