Changes at the LCBD

Loveland Business Development Center

The Warehouse Business Accelerator was awarded the contract for small-business development services through the Loveland Chamber of Commerce at the beginning of 2016. The program that was in place prior to the new contract was the LCBD. The new program is the Loveland Business Development Center (LBDC). This was an intentional act to keep the name similar. The LCBD program began in 1991; Kelly Jones-Peters was a Director for the LCBD from February 2000 to May 2006. The Executive Director for the new LCBD program is Kelly Jones-Peters. Kelly has an in depth knowledge of how the center functions and brings a fresh approach to the center with her years of experience in economic development in Northern Colorado.

The mission of the LBDC is to provide Loveland citizens and existing businesses with free one on one consulting services, sophisticated training seminars and street smart advisors in order to create a stronger more vibrant economy.

The City of Loveland has funded the contract for small business development for 26 years. The name of the program has changed a few times…LCBD changed to Loveland SBDC, reverted back to the LCBD and is now the LBDC. The core offerings of the program have remained stable over the years. What is new and exciting about the LBDC program is the abundance of resources that are now offered to Loveland businesses. This could only happen through a strong alignment with the Larimer SBDC program, the Loveland Chamber of Commerce and the Warehouse Business Accelerator. Loveland businesses can receive free counseling with business specialists or general counselors for routine business assistance. You can check out the talented consultants on the www.larimersbdc.org website under About Us/Consultants.

To receive free counseling services, register at: www.larimersbdc.org. If you have any questions, please call Mary Ann Huffines at (970) 667-4106.

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LCBD Rising Star – Origins Wine Bar & Wood Fired Pizza

 

Jeff & SuzanneSuzanne Alley and Jeff Noffsinger came to the Loveland Center for Business Development (LCBD) in October, 2013 seeking guidance as they delved into the process of starting a new business in downtown Loveland. Although I never expressed my deep concern about whether they had achievable goals for their proposed business, I certainly had those thoughts running around in my head. As a previous restaurant owner, the questions that I had came from years of experience working in restaurants and owning a restaurant for five years. Suzanne and Jeff, both sommeliers, would bring great knowledge of wine to their new business and that was comforting to hear. But, they had never owned a restaurant and that can be a huge issue. Robin Shukle, Executive Director for the LCBD, is a genius at getting people financing for their business. It is much more difficult to get financing for restaurants and food trucks, even if you are working with Robin. Thankfully, Suzanne and Jeff were able to finance their business idea and Origins Wine Bar & Wood Fired Pizza had their grand opening on June 3, 2015.

I was invited to one of the soft opening events and was delighted to meet Chef Karin Vandermerwe; Lead Bartender, Meggan Reed-Johnson; and HR guru, Meredith Jugoz. I was quite impressed with the hiring skill to choose this level of talent. Origins has a staff of 1 head chef, 3 managers and 30 employees. As downtown Loveland continues to blossom, adding this number of jobs to the community is a step in the right direction.

Origins Wine Bar & Wood Fired Pizza
Origins specializes in Napoletana-style thin crust pizzas. A key element as you enter the restaurant is the beautiful wood-fired pizza oven that was imported from Naples. Two of my favorite pizzas on their menu are the Dali: pesto, wild mushrooms, fior di latte, roasted red bell pepper and the Quattro Formaggi: fior di latte, ricotta, parmesan, mascarpone, finished with truffle oil and black sea salt. Aside from the delicious food choices, pay attention tOrigins pizza oven from Napleso the décor on your next visit to the restaurant. There is beehive theme going on and check out the lighting. The lights were designed by local artist, Steve Shactman.

Suzanne has been an international flight attendant for 30 years. I am certain this career path instilled in Suzanne superb customer service skills. The opportunity to experience food and wine and cultures from Europe and South America is a unique and inspiring benefit of traveling internationally with one’s job.

Jeff’s background is in government/City Planning in both Indiana and Wyoming and has a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Wyoming. Jeff brings a wealth of business acumen and steers the business financially. He also has a passion for cycling and bicycled throughout Italy and Europe where he discovered his wine palate (but not while cycling thankfully!)

I would consider myself to be a “regular” at Origins. I drop by the restaurant at odd times; thinking there is no way that Suzanne or Jeff will be in the restaurant at such an off hour. Each time, I see either Jeff or Suzanne as they are walking through the restaurant making sure things are running smoothly. This has become one of my favorite spots in downtown Loveland. I am not alone; Origins was voted best new restaurant and new business in the Loveland Reporter-Herald’s Reader Choice Awards for 2015.

Wine Tasting at OriginsI attended the Old World versus New World Wine Tasting on September 22, 2015 and I was in awe listening to Suzanne talk about the nuances of the wines and historical bits of information about the families who started the vineyards. I will definitely sign up for another tasting.

I love finding good happy hour deals. Origins offers happy hour specials Monday to Friday from 4 pm to 6 pm. If you miss happy hour, don’t despair, they have a wine keg system. You can get a great quality wine at reasonable price – you can’t beat that. If you sign up for their e-Vine newsletter, you will get some sweet deals that only the newsletter recipients receive.

Initially I had misgivings when I first heard about the idea of another pizza restaurant coming to Loveland. After my first meal at Origins Wine Bar & Wood Fired Pizza, those worries all dissolved. Straight from Origin’s website, “We specifically chose downtown Loveland, CO for our restaurant with a vision of bringing together Old World practices with New World ideas to offer a truly unique dining experience.” Origins is located at 500 N Lincoln Avenue in Loveland, CO.

Origins Wine Bar & Wood Fired Pizza

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The Importance of Words versus Pictures – Content for Marketing

Mary Bahus Meyer

Which is more important – words or pictures? In the recent movie “Words and Pictures,” students at a school take sides over which is superior. “A picture tells a thousand words,” yet a picture doesn’t tell the whole story. We need words, too, to flesh out what we see and feel. Words can be informative, persuasive, humorous, or moving. They can add context and credibility and convey the meaning behind the image.

A photo may capture a customer’s attention, but the words then have to “sell” it. As a copy writer for the Smithsonian Gift Catalog, I was charged with crafting persuasive and informative blurbs about museum products that were for sale. In three or four sentences, the copy had to “romance” the product – selling the sizzle, not the steak – and also provide the usage, provenance (background/history), details such as color, size, fabric, and explain briefly how the product related to the museum collections. The photo alone wasn’t enough to convince people to order and to part with their dollars.

The same is true for businesses selling a product or service. An attractive image for your website or marketing materials isn’t enough. The written content on your company website or print collateral is equally important as the image.

Most businesses who want a professional image are willing to hire a graphic designer to create it for them. However, many companies won’t go the extra mile to hire a copy writer to ensure that their content is written well, accurate, persuasive (if desired), grammatically correct, and conveys the messages that the company wants to communicate to clients. Why is that? Do they think no one reads any more so the words don’t matter?

When I read marketing collateral or web content that contains spelling errors, incorrect use of words, improper grammar, or poorly written explanations, I am always surprised that a company would allow it to be “good enough” to publish. They have quality control for their products but not for the “face” of their business? This is a poor reflection on their professionalism. It makes me NOT want to do business with them. It sets up this expectation in my mind: if they don’t pay attention to the details in their own marketing and don’t care about everything being done right, will they make mistakes and cut corners on my order or my job?

Here are 8 helpful tips for making sure that your content passes muster:

1. If writing isn’t your forte, hire a professional writer or get a wordsmith at your company to proofread and edit content.
2. Have an objective party from outside your industry read your text to see if it’s clear to a layperson. Does it sound like a doctor or engineer wrote it?
3. Avoid overuse of industry jargon and abbreviations. These can alienate potential customers who don’t understand them.
4. Look at the marketing your competitors do. What do they deem important to mention? What can you say to differentiate yourself and your company from the competition?
5. Read the content out loud, preferably to someone else. Does it flow well? Are there run-on sentences? Is it easy to understand?
6. Include a “call to action,” if appropriate (call now, mention this ad, save by doing this).
7. Write content in the “voice of your customer.” It should be written to appeal to the target market who will read it. Hillbilly slang won’t sell diamond jewelry to brides.
8. Consider whether the content could have interest and meaning to a broader audience than your customer base. If something is newsworthy, in addition to writing about it in your company newsletter and posting it on your Facebook page, send it to the media in a press release.

Your content is as important as great photography and design. Make every word count! It’s worth communicating that you care enough to do the job right for your own business, as well as for your customers. Words can provide credibility for your company, which can inspire trust, which can improve your sales. People buy from people they know and trust!

As the copy writer and marketing director for Full Circle Creative, Mary Bahus-Meyer writes content for websites, print collateral and press releases for many clients. She’s been a copy writer for the Smithsonian Gift Catalog, Kaiser Crow Gatherings and Art & Artifact direct mail catalogs, and contributes and edits articles for Loveland ARTSource, an annual guide to local arts and culture.
She can be contacted at 970.962.9203 or mary@fullcircle-creative.com.

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LCBD Rising Stars, Nick Roussos and Zach Wood

 

We are very fortunate at the LCBD to have the opportunity to work with two Loveland authors who write children’s books, Nick Roussos and Zach Wood.

Nick RoussosNick Roussos wrote and self-published his first book, Helping in Action, in 2014. The book is for beginning readers. Nick was born in Ethiopia, Africa and that is the setting for the book. Nick’s ambition is to write many more books. He would love to write a book a year.

Nick began working with the Loveland Center for Business Development (LCBD) in August 2013. He has been a vendor at the LCBD Community Marketplace for two years, sells his books at Rabbask Designs, Loveland Visitors Center, Amazon.com and also on his website.

Nick is also an inspirational public speaker and recently was a speaker at the Front Range TedX event on June 13, 2015. Being a speaker at a TedX event is quite impressive. It is doubly impressive that Nick was chosen to be a speaker, since he uses an assistive device for speaking.

Although Nick has Cerebral Palsy (developed at birth), that does not stop him from trying as many outdoor activities as he possibly can. Nick has entered marathons, triathlons, and other racing competitions through Athletes in Tandem. He does horseback riding, waterskiing, and snow skiing.

You can follow Nick on his Facebook page: facebook.com/awesomeinaction, or his website http://awesomeinaction.com/.

 

Zach Wood
Zach Wood came to work with the LCBD at the beginning of 2015. Zach Wood started out writing in high school at MVHS; first creating the Carlos Series featuring Carlos Goes to Preschool and Carlos Rides the School Bus. The first two books involve Zach’s own personal experiences and the message is simple. In some ways Zach is different but in some ways he is the same as everyone else. Presently, Zach has created a new series called The Disability Gang which features learning about a different disability in each book. So far in the series people will learn about blindness, autism and deafness. Zach enjoys learning about different disabilities himself through the research he does before he writes each book. These books were recently delivered to the illustrator, Rochelle Peeler. Rochelle has a whimsical style and is gifted in her use of colored pencils.

Not only does Zach do public book signings at events around town, he has also created a PowerPoint presentation for diversity training for any organization that would like to be more educated and in tune with today’s society.

When Zach isn’t writing, you can find him volunteering at Artisan You on 4th Street in Loveland, CO. You can follow Zach on his website: www.zlwbooks.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zlwbooks.

Both Nick and Zach will be selling their books in the children’s section of the Loveland Public Library during this year’s Loveland Community Marketplace event on Saturday, October 24th from 10 am to 4 pm. This will be a joint venture with the Loveland Youth Gardeners program.

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Explore Bold New Worlds – Expand Your Brain!

 

Age of AquariusHave you lost touch with something that was an important part of your life for many years? It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routines of our businesses and families and forget the other things that may have personal meaning for us.

Whether we get complacent, stuck in a routine, or need to “refill the well,” we often need something to inspire us, motivate us, and give us a little kick in the pants. For me, this has happened TWICE in the past 2 months – almost like lighting striking twice in the same place!

Age of Aquarius at Harrington Arts Academy
My daughter, Satori, was auditioning for the musical “Age of Aquarius” at Harrington Arts Academy located in Loveland, CO and it so happened that this show was open to all ages. Several of the moms of the “theater kids” decided we’d also try out for parts. Guess what? I got a part – singing, dancing and delivering the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!

Mary Bahus-Meyer

Next thing I know, I’m immersed in rehearsals, dancing with teenagers 3 hours a night, 4 days a week and practicing lines with my daughter. These students are so good and quick at picking things up, it’s hard keeping up with them! It’s simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating!

So, decades after acting in high school and college, I’m finding myself once again enjoying being on stage and all the craziness of being in a theater production. But this time, I’m a lot older, and it’s harder to remember the moves and lines. No excuses! The show must go on, and I’ll give it everything I’ve got! I’m not going to let anyone down, including myself.

I don’t think I would’ve had the nerve to try out if I didn’t believe Harrington Arts Academy would accept me and encourage me to be my best. HAA is a wonderful place in which to get in touch with your inner actor/musician/dancer/artist! This family-run school of the arts is a warm, friendly and safe place in which your creativity can be sparked or rekindled and enhanced by the teachers and other students. They do an amazing job of encouraging self-confidence in kids, as well. Harrington is currently in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization, so they’re recreating themselves, too!

Mary Bahus-MeyerAs if all the acting, dancing and singing weren’t enough of a challenge, I also just started hapkido lessons! This form of mixed martial arts involves kicking, punching, grappling, yoga, and discipline, among other things. I haven’t studied martial arts since I was in karate classes in high school. Now I’m in UKC hapkido class every Saturday with my family, learning self-defense, getting stronger, and enjoying a great new group of people.

Where has this journey to the Bold New Worlds of acting and hapkido taken me? I’m having fun, meeting people of all ages, I’m more physically fit than I’ve been in years, and my brain is forming a plethora of new neural pathways (created through focused learning of new information or exposure to new situations).

Be brave! Strike out on new paths or revisit old ones you once enjoyed, as I have. Remember that “all work and no play” can make us dull and lose our edge. Igniting an old passion or discovering a new interest is exciting and inspiring, and you can bring that excitement, concentration and energy into your business.

Mary Bahus-Meyer is the co-owner of Full Circle Creative and Satori Grill in Loveland. She also serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit Downtown Loveland Association and is an active supporter of the arts in Loveland.

Age of Aquarius at Harrington Arts Academy
See Mary perform with her daughter in “Age of Aquarius” with fabulous 1960s music and dancing, at Harrington Arts Academy August 7,8,9,14 and 15. Learn more at facebook.com/pages/Harrington-Arts-Academy.

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LCBD Rising Star – Starstream Productions

Karen Fournier
Karen Fournier, founder and CEO of Starstream Productions, has been a client of the Loveland Center for Business Development (LCBD) since 2011. Karen has served Northern Colorado as a video producer since 2007, creating high-impact promotional and educational videos for a variety of nonprofits and businesses.

Karen is also a volunteer instructor for the LCBD. Karen began teaching The Power of Videos in Effective Marketing at the LCBD in May of 2013. If you were looking for words to describe what Karen brings to the video world you might think of passion, dedication, creativity, compassion, humor, and heart.

Notable projects of Starstream Productions are:

  • Colorado Women of Influence: 12 Women of Vision spotlight videos (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
  • Colorado Council of Independent Reading Association: marketing materials
  • Northern Colorado Writers: conference-promotion videos
  • Loveland Chamber’s Dancing With the Stars 2014 Flood-Relief Fundraiser: 14 videos of dancer back stories and flood stories
  • Loveland Chamber’s Dancing With the Stars 2015 Fundraiser: 8 videos of dancer back stories and Heart-J Center and Habitat for Humanity videos
  • A Child’s Dream (nonprofit granting children’s wishes): gala fundraiser video
  • Alphabet Workout: 17 green-screen videos for a preschool reading program
  • The Boo Show (children’s variety show): – multiple episodes
  • A Wandering Botanist: monthly botany videos on a variety of topics
  • Hope Lives! (breast cancer support nonprofit): gala video – 2013, 2014, 2015
  • Project Youth and Chamber Music: promotional materials
  • Pretty Brainy (science programs for girls): promotional materials
  • City of Loveland: GoNoCO regional economic incentive video

In the video production world, Starstream Productions has been honored with numerous awards, such as:

2015 Telly Award-Winner:

Volunteers of America A video depicting words on cardboard signs which describe how it feels to be a homeless Veteran.

2014 Telly Award-Winners:

Hearts and Horses: Riding in the Moment (therapeutic horseback riding for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia)

Hearts and Horses: Hearts and Horses for Heroes (therapeutic horseback riding for war veterans)

Hope Lives! (breast-cancer services nonprofit): 2013 gala video

2014 Davey Award-Winners:

Colorado Women of Influence, A Meth Story: Megan Chenoweth

Dancing With the Stars with a Heart, A Flood Story: Senor Rafael at the Mexican Inn

MAH: Can you estimate how many people you have interviewed for your videos over the years?
Karen: I have interviewed almost 500 people on camera since I started in 2007. The entrepreneurial, giving spirit of the people of the Front Range make this an amazing place to live!

MAH: What words of wisdom do you have for others wanting to break into the video production field?
Karen: My advice would be to learn as much as you can in all the ways that you can. Take classes/workshops, do online tutorials, pay seasoned people to come and shoot with you and teach you all they can, and learn by doing, over and over. You’ll learn from your mistakes — don’t be afraid to make them or you will never learn a better way!

MAH: What are some challenges you face with producing a video?
Karen: Challenges can come with the location: too noisy or chaotic, too bright or dark (if you’re filming live somewhere and can’t control the lighting). Challenges can also come with people on camera who are extremely nervous, or working with children who refuse to cooperate. I have many tricks up my sleeve to get people to relax and just be themselves. You mostly just have to do the best you can and go with it — and get creative in editing. And finally, challenges can arise with equipment that malfunctions, programs that crash, or little glitches along the way — the technological stuff that drives me crazy!

MAH: What are your two favorite videos that you have produced and why?
Karen: That is a super tough question. There are so many aspects to what I do, that almost every project is enjoyable at least in some way — whether it be in interviewing someone amazing, using creativity in the graphics or design, playing with special effects and editing, nailing a script, or the sheer joy of collaborating with one of my many fabulous clients!

Of the hundreds of videos I’ve done, there is one in particular that was very special. The “Hearts and Horses: Riding in the Moment” video I did featured therapeutic horseback riding for people with Alzheimer’s. On the day I filmed, I was following different riders around and filming here and there, and this whole story unfolded before me with this one rider, Ray. He was telling the volunteers all about his experiences in the war and about his life as a farmer/cowboy. When he got on the horse, he said: “I wish I could see.” That was so powerful. Hearing him declare “Hi, ho, Silver” when he started riding made me realize that I was capturing a moment of magic. His interaction with the horse afterward truly showed how the memories come alive for these elderly riders. To top it off, he reminded me so much of my father in his looks, demeanor, and gratefulness. That touched me deeply, as well. It was one of those times where I was at the right place at the right time, and my intuition told me to follow him and capture his story. This particular video received one of four Telly Awards that I have won thus far and that was special to be recognized for this powerful video.

Another special video (or a series of them) was working as the videographer and editor on the children’s program called The Boo Show at Harrington Arts Academy with amazingly talented owner Brandon Harrington, who played 17-plus characters in the show (a little boy, grandpa, sister, scarecrow, Latino neighbor, etc.). We had different groups of 4 to 8 year-olds star in the show with him; both on location about town and in green-screen scenes. It was a complete blast to film that! We did about a dozen webisodes total (although it is currently on hiatus). It was a super creative, amazing experience, and a part of my career I will never forget. You can see these at www.thebooshow.com

MAH: What did you do prior to starting your business in 2007?
Karen: Before I started my business, I was home raising my three daughters for 12 years. Prior to that, I was a gifted/talented teacher for 12 years in Maine, Texas, and then here in Colorado, teaching high-level critical and creative thinking skills to children through grade five.

ScrapbookingScrapbooking

 

 

 

 

MAH: Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy when you aren’t shooting videos?
Karen: I have created several scrapbooks, and doing that givScapbookinges me practice for videos in design, balance/layout, and coordinating color schemes. I created a scrapbook for my mother’s 10 year anniversary of her passing away. I love spending time with my daughters who are 10, 13 and 15. I love to read (when I can!) and to take walks and enjoy our amazing community and beautiful mountains.

no_llc

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Financial Woes

Susan PaintingMost of my teenage years revolved around living with financial disasters in my family that would have been very hard to prepare for. My mother contracted breast cancer at age 32. It eventually metastasized and spread throughout her body. On top of the cancer, she also had a massive stroke that left her right side paralyzed. Very sad, since she was a right-handed artist. She primarily painted with oil paint; I loved her watercolor paintings. The medical bills were monumental to begin with and a lengthy stay at a rehab center made them insurmountable. Ironically, my father was an insurance agent and knew the importance of having adequate insurance. Unfortunately, he went through a mid-life crisis and quit his job. Hence, he had no health insurance when all the medical bills hit. These events were terribly difficult to deal with as a young girl. People would come to our front door and take away pieces of our furniture. I didn’t realize at the time that they were repossessing the furniture. We had to move in my junior year of high school because my father couldn’t pay the mortgage and we lost our home. We ended up moving into a shabby apartment. My bedroom was a room that was not supposed to be occupied, per building code. There was an upside to having this type of dilapidated bedroom, I could do almost anything with it. I painted large murals on the walls. The situation instilled in me a few random thoughts:

  • Save for a rainy day – and that could end up being a flood.
  • Tomorrow will be a better day – not always, it can get much worse before it starts to get better. Be realistic and eat the elephant, one day at a time.
  • Happiness is quitting the job you hate – but you really should consider having a better situation to go to before quitting that job.
  • The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sailsWilliam Arthur Ward – life events are going to happen and there are times it will strain you to your limits; your attitude will be your guiding light.

Yes, unfortunate circumstances can happen to derail our lives. The possibility of that happening should not stop us from trying to be prepared for the unknown. I have read that 50% of American adults do not maintain a budget. Without a budget, the waters get much more difficult to navigate when financial strains enter your life. It is daunting to begin the budgeting process. You have to delve into credit card statements and categorize and really look at where you spend your money. You will need to take hours to input your financial information into a spreadsheet.

If this isn’t too difficult of a process for you to develop your budget, you are ready for the next task, evaluating your spending habits and making decisions about those habits. Are you spending too much at the grocery store? I imagine most people will say yes to that question. Are you floored about how much you spend dining out? Do you have an addiction to shopping? Are you using your house as if it were an ATM machine; taking out loans against it?

There are many experts out there to answer questions as you work on your budget. I personally started listening to Suze Orman on cassette tapes when I got the bug to become more financially secure. The first budget issue I dealt with was credit card debt. Once I whittled that down, I never carried a balance forward from my credit card statements again. I enjoy dinning out and it is important for me to support local small business and this is one of the ways I accomplish that. I have created numerous personal budget forms over the years but fell out of the habit in the past five years. I recently started a new budget form. Although I knew I was spending a great deal at restaurants, I was shocked when I entered the totals from my credit card statement. I will continue to support local restaurants, breweries and food trucks, but this is a line item that can easily be cut, with a little effort. Most of the line items in a budget are hard and fast; you have to cut where it makes sense.

I don’t assume that creating and following a budget will be an easy task for everyone. I have heard a large number of folks talk about the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course. There is even a kid’s version. These people have talked about putting cash in envelopes for their monthly spending. If they set aside $300 per month for dining out, once that cash is gone they are cut off from spending any more in this category. They stop using their credit cards and get rid of all credit card debt. If you are struggling to get out of debt or to get your spending habits in line, I would recommend a course such as this. If you don’t want to spend any money on a course, you could try the cash in an envelope method and limit the use of your credit cards to get your debt in line and begin a savings program.

If you have an entrepreneurial nature and you have poor spending and saving habits, it will cost you dearly if you need financing for a business. The number of business loans for $1 million or less held by banks is down about 14% since 2008. Getting your loan application approved is much more arduous these days. You need to develop good financial management skills, long before you have the need to borrow money from a bank. If your credit score is low and/or you have a bankruptcy in your past, you can expect to pay a higher interest rate or may not qualify at all for business financing.

Developing a budget for your personal life is a good first step to making your small business successful. The Loveland Center for Business Development has a wonderful tool on their website. You can find it under the tab, Become a Client. It is listed as Budget Template. Download the file and start entering your data.

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Asking for LinkedIn Recommendations Too Soon

LinkedIn Recommendations

I am suspicious when I receive a request for a LinkedIn recommendation shortly after meeting a person. When asked early on, my gut feeling has been that this person will most likely not be a valuable connection over the long haul. Plus, I don’t know enough about them to respond in any way but a vague fashion.  This has only happened to me a few times and my initial reaction has been quite accurate.

I recently found an article about writing LinkedIn recommendations: http://mashable.com/2012/05/16/linkedin-recommendations/. I wish I had read this article at an earlier date.  I would have politely declined writing about a person that I really didn’t know well enough and was not confident about their integrity. The third item on the list in this article gives a great response for people who ask for a recommendation way too early, which is to simply say “I don’t feel I know your work well enough to recommend you, but please contact me for one at a later date as we get to know each other better”.

I do place value on recommendations and when I ask for one, it is from the people that I respect and hold in high esteem. You don’t have to wait for a person to ask you for a recommendation. If you feel that one of your connections is exceptional, go ahead and write an endorsement and they can add it to their profile.

When I worked for a large senior housing community in Virginia, I developed a “Random Acts of Kindness Week” for the employees. The response was heart-warming to watch. This was developed to help departments work in a more harmonious manner. Nursing departments tend to stick together, as do dietary and administration. Friction can build up easily and very soon it isn’t much fun to come to work if someone is holding a grudge. This kindness week broke down barriers and inspired people to interact in a much more compassionate manner. Create your own act of kindness week by sending some awesome recommendations to help build people up and give encouragement.

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LCBD Rising Star – Fresh Plate Catering

 

Tracie Reeves HartmanThe Loveland Center for Business Development (LCBD) was delighted to begin working with Tracie Reeves Hartman in July 2013. Tracie was full of marvelous ideas. Her original idea was for a breakfast and lunch restaurant that would revolve around building community that would include a room for children, and, of course, offer excellent food. After analyzing all the costs associated with developing such a business, Tracie decided to go a different route – catering. Tracie started Fresh Plate Catering on September 18, 2013. Fresh Plate Catering, a Loveland, Colorado business, provides farm fresh food with a healthy slant.

Fresh Plate CateringA highlight in 2014 for Fresh Plate Catering was an invitation from Verboten Brewing to create a special menu for July 1, 2014. The Travel Channel was coming to Verboten to film their brewing process and discuss food and beer pairings. Tracie set up a large grill outside Verboten and went to town with a menu of garlic pork sliders, Angry Boots and agave BBQ, mango jicama slaw, and sirloin shish kabobs marinated in Five Second Frencher with smoked Gouda and ale pimento cheese. To complete the meal, Tracie made a coffee ice cream float made with Killer Boots caramel porter for dessert. I was at this event and ended up getting a second helping – the food was that good.

MAH: Tracie, what do you see in the future for Fresh Plate Catering?
Tracie:
In addition to growing as a catering business we will expand into additional food avenues. Those that are being researched and considered are managing a green commercial/incubator kitchen, retail areas for those working out of the commercial kitchen, deli, ready-made-dinners, and/or a food hub that brings several Northern Colorado entities together.
Fresh Plate CateringMAH: You were the only person doing all the jobs when you first started. Have you added employees?
Tracie:
I have added part-time employees: two chefs who assist in the cooking and food prep, and 5-6 servers.

MAH: What were your biggest obstacles in the first year of business?
Tracie:

  1. Fresh PlateStaying ahead of the game and time management. A question I often ponder, “Is this the best investment of my time at the moment?” If the answer to that question is probably no….I need to turn that answer into a resounding “YES”!
  2. Being smart in terms of time management and eliminating food waste, and scheduling and menu creation to avoid this.
  3. Taking recipes and multiplying them by large quantities and still preserving the quality and taste can be challenging and timing of multiple events on the same day.
  4. Finding the products I desire and at a reasonable price. Knowing what is available since I can design menus around unique foods that are available.

Fresh Plate CateringMAH: What are your top selling menu items?
Tracie:
Bacon wrapped dates! Seasonal items that include fresh fruits and vegetables that are unique and healthier than what many caterers provide.
Fresh Plate CateringMAH: You offered pies at Thanksgiving the first year you were open. How did that go and how many pies did you end up baking?
Tracie
: That went well and is a service we do hope to again provide. Because our 2014 October and December were very busy, I did not feel we could provide the quality and service I wanted; we only made pumpkin pies. We baked and sold about 125 in 2013 and 80 in 2014.
Fresh Plate CateringMAH: How would you describe the assistance that you received from the LCBD to develop your business?
Tracie:
This service has been a huge part of Fresh Plate being successful:

  1. The one-on-one consultations and direction has been extremely helpful. I have implemented many of the ideas and those that I have not implemented have been because of a lack of time.
  2. All meetings with volunteer advisers have been extremely beneficial. I have met with at least six volunteers.Fresh Plate Catering
  3. Many of my best partnerships have been based on my relationship with the LCBD.
  4. I have taken 2-3 of the classes and they have been extremely informative and helpful. I would really like to attend more but, again, I don’t because of lack of time.
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LCBD Rising Star – DAWGMA, LLC

 

DAWGMA, LLC Mobile Dog GroomingGiselle Mayhew came to the LCBD in February, 2014. She was a corporate employee (dog groomer) for a major franchise, working for minimal pay that included Saturdays. Giselle had a dream to open her own mobile dog grooming business. There was much work to be done on Giselle’s part. She needed to complete a cash flow form to show that this would be a viable business and work with the Loveland Library on market research. A logo design needed to be created to submit for the van signage and promotional printed pieces. Giselle worked with a local attorney and CPA to set up the business properly. She jumped into Facebook to announce her new business and Dawgma, LLC opened on May 1, 2014.

DAWGMA, LLC Mobile Dog Grooming - Loveland, COWithin two months Dawgma was booked out 10 days and was doing business in Berthoud, Fort Collins, Loveland and Windsor. Needing some additional financing, Giselle headed back to the LCBD and worked with Robin Shukle, LCBD Executive Director, on her loan packet development. She received her financing and continues to thrive. If you think you might like to try mobile dog grooming, you better call now because it will take you three weeks to get an appointment with Dawgma. People love the convenience and the quality of this service.

MAH: What were your biggest challenges in starting your business?
Giselle: The biggest challenge by far was quitting my job and jumping into the void; taking the risk, with no income.

MAH: Is there any advice you would give to a person just starting their business?
Giselle: Do your research.  I read every book ever written on mobile grooming, every blog or web post.  It helped tremendously with marketing and especially pricing correctly.

MAH: What do you like best about your job?
Giselle: I LOVE DOGS.  They seem to pick up on my deep obsession and, usually take to me very easily.  I look forward to work.  There is nothing like transforming a dog into a cute groom.  I see all dogs and think…Oh, what I could do with that canvas.

MAH: How did the Loveland Center for Business Development (LCBD) help you in developing your business?
Giselle: The LCBD showed me how to start, how to progress, how to get funding, and website tips. They showed me where to aim for pricing to make a living.  Every time I had a question Robin and Mary Ann had the answers.  They supported me and gave me confidence.  THEY BELIEVED IN ME. I could have never done it without their guidance.

MAH: Did you think about owning your own business when you were younger?
Giselle: No, this is a dream that I never could have even imagined.  I am so happy.  I feel so proud.  I never miss my kid’s games anymore.  I am around for ALL the holidays and weekends.  I am making a living doing something I would do for free.  I am humbled by the people that helped me.  I know I will pay it forward for the rest of my life.

DAWGMA, LLCOn a side note, Giselle just rescued her fourth dog on March 10th.  Work isn’t the only place that she is inundated.

DAWGMA, LLCDAWGMA, LLCDAWGMA 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

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