How can Fort Worth encourage small business? This consultant has firsthand experience

dfwnewsa | January 4, 2024 | 2 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

How can Fort Worth encourage small business? This consultant has firsthand experience

Darlisa Diltz never imagined herself as a business owner. She thought she would climb the corporate ladder in the healthcare industry. It wasn’t until someone asked her to help with a strategic plan that she considered entrepreneurship as an option. Now she’s knee-deep in the world of startups and aspiring business owners.After stints working for Small Business Development Centers in Missouri and Collin County, Diltz is chief strategist and owner of Fundations Entrepreneur Development Company. She aims to help organizations, municipalities and communities provide programming that makes it easier for people in underserved communities to enter the entrepreneurial space. 

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She also leads the committee for Global Entrepreneurship Week North Texas, an event meant to connect business owners. 

Diltz won the instigator of the year award in 2022 at Fort Worth’s Global Entrepreneurship Week luncheon. The annual event recognizes individuals who make headway in helping aspiring business owners gain access to resources. Diltz, a first-generation college student, said no one in her family owned a business. She didn’t know entrepreneurship was an option. Now, what she has learned motivates her in business.

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“This is kind of like putting my money where my mouth was to help people that were like me,” Diltz said. 

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Diltz describes herself as a nerd who loves to help. That might explain why she has a master’s in information technology and a Master in Business Administration from Lindenwood University in Missouri. When she moved from St. Louis to Texas, Diltz noticed the amount of opportunity for business in the state. But what stood out was the lack of education on how best to start. 

“This was a land of milk and honey,” she said. “However, how to get to the milk and honey became the disparity.” 

Craig Hulse, North Richland Hills’ director of economic development, has known Diltz for about five years. He would refer aspiring business owners looking to get established in North Richland Hills to her. She also helped create a local Northeast Tarrant County chapter of 1 Million Cups, a weekly event that brings together entrepreneurs, by applying for a grant from the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation. 

Hulse describes Diltz as a “bridge builder”; she’s good at making connections between people across life stages, professions and ethnicities in a safe environment without judgment. Diltz encourages people to do things differently, whether it’s considering an alternate strategy, reaching out to a particular person or presenting to a large group of people, Hulse said. He notices how busy she is. 

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“She doesn’t really keep office hours,” he said. “Her hours are 24/7. I don’t know how she does it.”  

Tamara Payne, co-founder and CEO of the coworking company Ensemble and network builder for the entrepreneurship platform Sparkyard, described Diltz as creative in what she offers and how she comes up with classes. She is involved across the Dallas-Fort Worth area and helps bridge communities to create an ecosystem.“She has done a really good job in trying to bring people from Dallas over to Fort Worth and Fort Worth people to Dallas to create events that create collaborations and collisions between the two different sides of the Metroplex,” Payne said. 

Despite her described passion for entrepreneurship, Diltz said she would become an actress if she wasn’t a consultant — her childhood dream. She sang in church and participated in her school’s talent shows and said she likes performing and being in good spirits. She said she utilizes those skills in her day-to-day work. Public speaking in front of groups is no problem.“Whenever I’m doing a training or something like that, it’s like, I have to put on a show for them,” Diltz said. 

As Fort Worth grows, Diltz said, she would like to see more diversification in leadership and behaviors that change the “good ol’ boy” culture she still sees in the city. 

“What Fort Worth does really well is say who they’ve invited to the table,” Diltz said. “And they capitalize on people being at the table, but what they don’t show is that those people never even eat.” 

She has a suggestion for increasing further entrepreneurship in the city: Invest in the grains of sand, not just new sandboxes. 

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Darlisa Diltz bio: 

Birthplace:  St. Louis, MissouriYear moved to Fort Worth: 2016Education: Lindenwood University, St. Charles, Missouri, MBA in 2012, Master of Science in information technology in 2014Work experience: Project coordinator for SSM Healthcare; area director for University of Missouri Exchange; center director for the St. Charles County SBDC; SBDC adviser in Collin County; managing director/owner of NTEETC; chief entrepreneurship strategist, Fundations Entrepreneur Development CompanyVolunteer experience: Served on numerous boards of directors, including the St. Louis Metropolitan YMCA; Cortex Innovation District Revitalization Project; city of North Richland Hills Economic Development Committee; Northeast Tarrant Chamber of Commerce; Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund; Sparkyard; and the WOW Center in Philadelphia. She also has worked on many local community projects. First job: Taco BellAdvice for someone learning to be a leader: At its core, leadership is all about serving others. Seek to serve and others will definitely follow.Best advice ever received: Always be myself … because the job of being someone else is already taken.

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow on Twitter @sbodine120.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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