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Adult Assisted Living Facility Opens in Lyndonville, Vermont

Success Story: Vermont

Welcome Home Assisted Living, VTKaren Thompson loves to help people. That has always been a strength of hers and something she wanted to turn into a life-long venture for some time. She recently accomplished her wish in the spring of 2017, when she opened the doors of Welcome Home Mature Adult Assisted Living in Lyndonville, Vermont.

The 24-hour elder care facility is already proving to be a great place for Thompson and other staff members to do what they love — helping people. But it has also proven a viable new Northeast Kingdom small business.

While Thompson always knew she was passionate about caring for people, she wasn’t sure how that would translate into a viable business. She needed banking advice and other tips on starting a business and quickly enlisted the help of Vermont Small Business Development Center Area Advisor Ross Hart.

The pair quickly went to work on budgeting and projections for the first year of operation, Thompson said. Hart also helped Thompson establish reasonable financial expectations and identified many helpful local business resources, she said. Thompson described working with Hart as an “educational, insightful, perfect” experience.  (more…)

7 Ways to Make a Holiday Sale Actually Work

By Eric Rosenberg

Sale signThe holiday shopping season traditionally kicks off with Black Friday, the annual shopping holiday the day after Thanksgiving that brings retailers “into the black” for the year, indicating a profitable period. But Black Friday alone is rarely enough to compete and make a profit in today’s market. Instead, many business owners run holiday sales to boost business during the busiest time of the year.

1. Start With the Math

In business, there is a concept of selling some products at a small loss to boost the sales of high margin products. These “loss leaders” can work well to boost the top line, but you can’t run a business with a focus only on revenue. You have to turn a profit to succeed in business.

Do the math and calculate margins on the products you expect to sell the most, and figure how to turn lower margin customers into higher margin customers. If you can upsell, convert, or at least turn low margin customers into leads for high profit products, you should be in great shape.

2. Improve the Customer Experience

Many shoppers try new stores, both online and offline, during the holidays. In fact, the National Retail Federation shares that 27.4 percent of all retail sales took place during the holidays in 2015 and most business expect about 20 percent of sales to come during the holiday season.  (more…)

Speech Therapist Branches Out To Better Serve Kids

Success Story: Idaho

Michelle Lance, Bloom TherapyWhen speech therapist Michelle Lance starting working with the Idaho SBDC in Pocatello, she was working full-time as a speech therapist for a clinic. As she watched management struggle with employee relationships and effective service delivery, she saw ways to better run a clinic.

She had a hunch the market could support a new speech therapy clinic, and her specialties were in demand. Over the next year, Lance worked with the Idaho SBDC to develop a business plan and secure an SBA loan. She also worked with a group of Idaho State University students on market research.

In the fall of 2016, Lance opened the Bloom Center for Pediatric Therapy, hired an additional therapist, and now sees kids 0-18 years old on a full schedule. She continues to work on expanding and renovating the spacious facility she purchased and plans to add more services as she grows.

“I was new to planning for and owning a business,” says Lance, “and I couldn’t have opened without my SBDC consultant’s help with the business plan.”

For more about the Bloom Center for Pediatric Therapy, visit www.bloomidaho.com. For more about the Idaho SBDC, visit idahosbdc.org.

How to Find VCs and Angel Investors

How to Find VCs and Angel Investors

By Lydia Roth

When you’ve mapped out the coming months for your business and expect to need a good amount of capital to grow, you may need to find outside funds. If you have a wealthy family member who believes in your venture, you’re in a good position. Otherwise, you can seek funds in the form of debt or equity financing.

Debt financing is when you take on someone else’s money in exchange for interest paid throughout the duration of the loan. Equity financing is when you take on someone else’s money in exchange for some ownership of your company.

Two popular forms of equity financing are VCs, or venture capitalists, and angel investors. If you’re thinking “I’ve heard of those and want in,” ask yourself these questions first:

• Are you ready to share control of your company? VC firms and angel investors can provide capital, guidance, and a big network of important people, but you may have to give up partial control of your company.  (more…)

Working Mom To Business Owner

Success Story: New Jersey

NJ SBDC Success - Marcy Ragan

The state of my business before I worked with the SBDC was just an idea. I was at a point in my life that I had to start working for myself out of necessity. The restaurant I had been working in wanted to change my hours (and I would never see my kids for dinner) and cut my pay. I needed to come up with a viable, marketable concept that would harness my talents, sustain growth, make a profit and make sure I was having dinner with my most important clients – my family.

My name is Marcy Ragan and I am the chef and owner of Relish Chef Services. Relish is a personal chef service, caterer and private cooking instructor. Relish cooks delicious, custom, hand-made meals for busy clients. In our modern lives people need help with their hectic lifestyles. Most often feeding ourselves with fresh, delicious and nutritious food can fall by the wayside. We all know that eating well with whole, nutritious food will benefit us immediately by powering our hard working bodies and minds but also in the long run as we age. We can live healthy, long lives if we eat whole, nutritious and delicious food. Being invested in tasty nutritious food now can only benefit our health as we age.

My clients have the benefit of having the meal planning, grocery shopping, prep work, cooking and clean-up handled by an expert. All meals are cooked and ready to go. Everyone is unique, Relish makes sure that you are fed well to your exact specifications. In my business I really get to know my clients and I am able to take care of their needs. My clients and I are able to develop a real sense of trust where I am able to anticipate their needs and work into their lives seamlessly.  (more…)