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Since Linda Murray Bullard was laid off from her job as a business data analyst at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the Chattanooga native decided to write a book about her life and pursue her own business to make a living.

The lessons she chronicled in her book "The Well Ran Dry — The Memoirs of a Motherless Child" she has also used to help motivate and instruct local entrepreneurs wanting to start their own businesses.

Bullard's own mother died on Christmas when she was only 9 years old in 1968 and by the time Bullard was 14 she had a child of her own, who subsequently went on to be a battalion chief in the Chattanooga Fire Department.

"It's about the power of choice," Bullard said of her life experience. "When you change your mind, you change your life."

Bullard has worked a variety of jobs using that philosophy, including teaching courses on entrepreneurship for at both Launch Chattanooga and Brightbridge's Women's Business Center.

Bullard's business, LSMB, recently won a $1,000 grant from the Sankofa Fund for Civic Engagement and on Saturday will begin an online business training program for 10 Chattanooga Black-owned businesses. LSMB is the only affiliate in Chattanooga to be certified by the Kauffman Foundation to use their Fast Trac platform.

"I wanted to help support other people who are losing their jobs at this time because I had a similar experience," she said. "We want to show people how you can create a business out of your hobby or other interests and how to be successful."

Black-owned entrepreneurs have often had a harder time getting financing and business. Bullard said about 60% of the Black-owned businesses that applied for a Payroll Protection Program were unable to secure the loans due to not having a license, financial records or staffing history.

The 10-week course Bullard is teaching includes the local businesses and startups Chatty Customz, Lynn McGill, Elevated Beauty, Callie's Avenue, Glam University, Unveiled Bridal Studio, ShastaMignon Inc, Princess Child Soaps, ANTT Corporation and A New 2MORROW 2day.

"At the end of this, each participate should have a working business plan," Bullard said. "Some of these people just have an idea for a business, while others have a business but they may need to pivot in response to the coronavirus."

More information about the training can be found at https://bit.ly/2W0O8Sn.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340

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