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This week, an entrepreneur looks for help structuring a business around her ideas for bringing “positive psychology” to the workplace. — Dan Beyers

The entrepreneur

Wilma Jones was a corporate business development manager by day and a self-published author, part-time professional speaker, and award-winning blogger on the side.

Her first book focused on using “positive psychology” in personal development, a subject she began studying while experiencing a tough marital breakup. Jones secured a well-respected relationship therapist to write the foreword of the book. A guest spot on the therapist’s national radio show and a successful media tour followed. Interviews on multiple radio shows on Sirius-XM, CBS Radio Network, Clear Channel network and WHUR-FM allowed Jones to build a solid media presence and grow an online social media community.

When Jones began receiving speaking engagements and later presenting workshops based on the principles in the book, her hobby evolved into a part-time business. She felt she needed assistance and feedback in developing her business plan.

The opportunity

More than 25 years of experience working in corporations as well as a stint owning a small business allowed Jones to see the changes in American office work environments firsthand. Today workers are frequently doing more with less, often with the added burden of uncertain job security.

In a 1987 survey conducted by the Conference Board, a non-profit research organization, more than 60 percent of American workers indicated that they liked their jobs. In contrast, by 2014 more than 52 percent of workers reported they were unhappy at their jobs. This unhappiness creates disengagement among workers, which Gallup estimates costs companies over $450 billion annually in lost productivity.

Research confirms that organizations with happy employees have a competitive advantage in the market. There is a burgeoning understanding of the benefits of a kinder, more mindful workplace with companies like Google, which has a chief happiness officer as a part of its executive team, leading the way.

Businesses large and small, non-profit organizations, associations, and government agencies can all benefit from incorporating the research-proven strategies and concepts of positive psychology into their workplace environments. Companies that adopt these strategies gain improved teamwork and increased productivity—in addition to a happier, healthier staff.

The challenge

The solutions Jones developed are the base of her consulting and workshop business by helping employees and organizations create productive and healthy work environments. Jones’ approach is also the focus of her second book, “Is It Monday Already?! 197 Tools and Tips to Start Living Happier at Work.” Jones offers free resources, available at LivingHappierAtWork.com, including a blog, newsletters, a “4-Week Living Happier at Work Challenge” and an upcoming mobile app. Clients who want to dig deeper can contract for customized, hands-on ‘Living Happier at Work’ workshops, seminars, lunch and learns, breakout meetings, half- or full-day sessions and webinars to increase awareness, develop strategies for their workplace or whatever is in line with the organization’s goals.

As she moved to shape her enterprise, Jones sought help organizing the business side of things.

The advice

Ed Coleman, a former executive and now a counselor for the D.C chapter of the business mentoring group SCORE.

“We began with a review of Wilma’s business issues and a discussion of what business structure to choose. I reviewed the various types of corporate structures and their associated compliance requirements in terms of taxes and various filings with the state and other entities. We discussed her liability concerns and how each business structure option provides different levels of personal protection requiring different insurance coverage such as general liability and errors and omissions. Wilma planned to operate the business as a solo-entrepreneur and needed as few reporting requirements as possible. In addition, the ease of reporting income on her personal tax return on a Schedule C and projected growth were factors driving her decision. Ultimately she decided that the single owner LLC was the best option for her.

“I reviewed the outline of her business plan and provided advice on the most important components to include based on the business structure and her goals…Once the initial business plan draft was completed, I helped her determine business and personal insurance requirements as well as resources for management of her business financial information. Because she did not have professional business contacts for support in some of these areas, I provided SCORE approved referrals. Wilma had yet to secure business licenses, so I made sure she completed the requirements for businesses of her type located in Arlington County. I also connected Wilma with the Arlington Economic Development Division and their BizLaunch organization that supports small business in the County.

The reaction

Wilma Jones

“My biggest problem launching my company was the business piece of it. Ed’s mentoring gave me confidence that I was making the right decisions this time. I left my corporate job just before Memorial Day 2016 and began working full-time in my rebranded business, Wilma J, LLC on June 1st! The book launched in mid-July and now I am acting on my business and marketing plans to build relationships with clients so my services can help create happier, more productive workplaces nationwide.

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education. Looking for some advice on a new business, or need help fixing an existing one? The greater Washington D.C. chapter provides confidential counseling and mentoring from more than 60 executives across the region. Contact capbiznews@washpost.com or request a mentor at www.washingtondc.score.org.