News & Events

Denise Carr, FASTSIGNS, Worcester, MA

From Wall Street to Main Street

After dedicating decades to the corporate world, Denise Carr was laid off.  She needed to make some quick decisions as to what to do next.  Denise did not want to give control over her future back to a big corporation, but she had no experience running a small business.  She did, however, have the ability to execute a business plan and an interest in how people learn and communicate ideas.  Denise discovered the FASTSIGNS franchise, which combined her interest in communications and desire to start a community-based business that could provide meaningful employment.  Now she is the owner of her own visual communications business, coaching customers on strategy as well as providing products for all customers’ signage needs. In 2018 the Worcester Chamber of Commerce named her business Small Business of the Year.


Denise’s biggest challenge was getting financing.  Despite the fact that she had years of related experience and was purchasing an established franchise with lots of support, banks viewed her business as a start-up.  Fortunately Denise enjoyed a lot of support from the FASTSIGNS franchisor, including inventory management and setting up day-to-day operations.  Eventually she made an investment in herself and used retirement funds to finance her business.  She also took advantage of local business resources, including CWE.

How did CWE help?

CWE helped Denise see entrepreneurship as a real possibility, and gave her the tools to go after it.  Denise took several of CWE’s “How To” workshops, where she learned about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.  CWE workshops demystified the bank financing process, the difference between types of legal entities and federal government contracting.

Advice for other entrepreneurs?

  • Build your team carefully.  Take the time to find an accountant, banker, lawyer and other professionals that understand your business and with whom you feel comfortable and confident.
  • Take advantage of business resources in your community.  CWE, your local Chamber and small business development centers can all provide valuable information and support.
  • Consider franchising, especially if it comes with a system to support you.
120 Stafford Street
Worcester, MA   01603

Special thanks to CWE volunteer writer, Deb Thomas.