By Burt Dragin

If running a business is like running a race, you couldn’t ask for a better coach than Darlene Crane. Now in her fourth year as Executive Director of the Alliance for Community Development in Oakland, Crane waxes eloquent on how to “push” the small- to moderate-business owner past the magic mark of $100,000 in annual sales.

“First, they have to have the guts to ask for help,” Crane says from her office at 300 Frank Ogawa Plaza. “Before the recession, there was enough money and business activity in the Bay Area that small businesses didn’t have to market or even understand marketing to succeed.” But times have changed. Consumers have a limited amount of discretionary cash. Businesses can’t succeed on the strength of the owner’s passion alone.

Just ask Grisela Ceja, proprietor of Grisela Salon on International Boulevard in East Oakland. “Business has been up and down,” she says of her 16 years of enhancing women’s looks and self-confidence.

Read more at Live Work Oakland.

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