Press Release

Release Date: June 25, 2024
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Prospective First American entrepreneurs have a friend in the Chickasaw Business Network that can guide them through the myriad pitfalls associated with opening their first business.

Sandra Wesson, Chickasaw Business Network manager, says it often happens that someone may have a good idea for a new business venture, but lacks the know-how and resources to do so.

“A lot of times small businesspeople will bootstrap it and wing it, and when you do that you don’t really have a plan in place. You’re constantly finding yourself course correcting,” Wesson said.

“We get a lot of people who are starting new businesses who reach out because they have no idea what the process is and what avenues they need to take. We guide them through writing business plans and determining if it is a feasible idea they have in mind,” she said.

Wesson said helping newbies determine projections and budget details just scratches the surface of what is required to be successful. To that end, the Chickasaw Business Network offers an abundance of training.

Topics include accounting, human resources, classic design, marketing, and assistance in learning to access and use the different tools and resources available to turn their fledgling business venture into a successful enterprise.

Wesson says part of the process is discovering a client’s niche in the marketplace by determining what makes their business unique.

“We help them explore what makes their business different. Sometimes it’s in performing research, finding out who their competitors are, what they offer and how to set yourself apart from them. It’s all part of branding,” she said.

She said self-motivation when starting and operating a business is a key ingredient for success.

“What is driving you to do this? We really try to help them explore that question. You don’t have to (have a college degree) to start a business, but you do have to be motivated and able to continue that drive to overcome whatever obstacles are thrown at you. You do face challenges, and you must be persistent and keep moving forward.”

Wesson said other features Chickasaw Business Network provides include a green room for business owners who want to produce podcasts or photo headshots, or who need to photograph products with professional camera equipment.

A computer lab with professional software assists clients in planning and executing their social media campaigns. She said tools are available to create and edit capability statements, flyers or other pertinent information such as marketing materials or proposal quotes.

“We are ordering in a 3D printer to use if someone wants to model a particular design to send into production or to manufacture. We are also getting product labelers.”

Wesson says these are expensive items a small business is not able to afford but is available at no charge, not just to Chickasaws, but to all First Americans.

“Dave Dicky is a small business consultant on staff who helps support that initial startup,” Wesson said. “Morgan Merrell is our office manager who helps us navigate all the trainings and events we offer.”

Taylor MacCollister, whose Buzzkill Pest Control launched in December last year, says Chickasaw Business Network gave her company a great deal of assistance.

“Sandra Wesson, David Dickey and Morgan Merrell were all great,” MacCollister said. “They were a lot of help for what we needed and gave us great support. They helped us fill out the preferred vendor application, helped us make flyers and let us use their computers.”

Allison Poe of Poe Prepping LLC describes her company as a food trucking, meal prepping, catering company that started in November 2019.

“I love them,” Poe said. “Sandra, David and Morgan are so helpful. They always have good ideas to bounce off of me and me off of them. They helped me print (materials) and get in contact with people who made them even prettier than the plain things I had. They spiced it up.

They are always willing to help anybody who needs it no matter how big or small,” she said.

Another feature offered to select Chickasaw Business Network clients is Apelachi, a business incubator for companies less than two years old and that are approved by a panel of judges.

“Apelachi is a little more hands-on than just our small business consulting,” Wesson said. “We monitor these companies a little closer and offer to work with them here in our facility.”

While funding is not directly a part of the services provided, Wesson says her division works with Chickasaw Community Bank, REI, a nonprofit agency in Oklahoma that does lend money for such ventures.

“We try to connect the resources that can help regardless of the type of business they are in,” she said.

For easy reference, Chickasaw Business Network produces a business directory of Chickasaw-owned businesses and a preferred vendor program for vendors who want to do business with the Chickasaw Nation.

For more information about Chickasaw Business Network, visit or call (580) 559-0805.