sarah ware

Sarah Ware

Ware Realty Group

When she sits at her desk in the office of the Ware Realty Group, Sarah Ware faces a whiteboard with a checklist of tasks on it (currently at the top: “website” and “new hire”). The tasks arose from Ware’s eleven weeks as a client in the Polsky Small Business Growth Program for minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses on Chicago’s South and West sides.

“I had some fear about putting myself out there for larger deals. Without the program, I would never have started to go after them — I’d just be a subcontractor to other firms forever — but now I can confidently respond to RFPs on my own.”

A real estate broker who’s been in business for herself since 2007, Ware is ready to be more than a one-woman firm — and the UChicago students and faculty she worked with in the program helped her map a path toward expansion. For example, a student consultant helped her benchmark her company against competitors, revealing that Ware Realty is one of only a few certified minority and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) real estate brokers working with government clients in Chicago. “I want to be a larger broker, and focusing my business on that space will open up a lot of opportunity,” she says. So she’s redoing her website to place her MWBE certification, her client list, and her government expertise front and center; she’s also hiring an assistant to run the office and keep projects on track while she pursues more business. Longer-term, she’d like to hire another broker to keep expanding the company.

“The program was tailored to me and my business,” she says, “and I left with a 180-day plan for tangible things to pursue in order to grow. I now have a clear focus on what I have to offer, where I want to focus my business, and what the trajectory looks like. It’s not just the program; it’s what you do with the information afterward.”

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