America's SBDC Blog
A "Forbes 100 Best Websites for Entrepreneurs"

Teaching Tool Turns Into Business Venture, Parlor Game

Success Story, Vermont –

StorymaticAsk Brian Mooney what he does for a living and he says, with a very big smile on his face, “I make boxes of Yes!” It always stops people in their tracks and then he gets to explain what he does. “At least that’s how I like to think of it, anyway. The Storymatic is a family of card-based creative writing prompts and games. There are ten thousand stories in every box,” Mooney says.

Brian came up with the idea when he was teaching creative writing to high school and college students, and they told him the writing prompts he created for them were a whole lot of fun to use as a game to play with friends outside of class. From there the Classic Storymatic Game was born.

Now, Brian’s unstoppable, creative mind has created several more games, including Storymatic Kids, The Storymatic Colonial History Edition and Rememory. They are sold worldwide via The Storymatic website, bookstores, toy stores and museum shops. A perfect gift for a family game night, an aspiring writer, or a writer in need of some inspiration, The Daily Beast calls them “super, super fun!,” and the Chicago Tribune says the games are “perfect for just about anybody who loves a good story at a party.”  (more…)

7 New Year Resolutions You Can Make for Your Business

2018 New Year's Resolutions

By Jennifer Lobb

A new year is upon us, and for many of us that means taking inventory of our lives, deciding where we can improve and making resolutions to guide us through our journey to improvement.

While we typically think of resolutions as personal promises, the sentiment can and should extend to professional organizations. By making company-wide resolutions, small business owners, managers or individuals in other leadership roles can promote growth, increase the bottom line and improve company morale.

Not sure what types of resolutions you should make? Here are seven that will be important for a strong 2018.

1. Connect With Your Employees

Owning or running a business comes with a unique set of challenges and responsibilities, many of which are fundamentally different from those that your employees will encounter over the course of a year. And while the job titles and responsibilities may be different, connecting with your employees on some level is essential if you want to have a successful year.  (more…)

Planning Makes Perfect For Brothers’ Auto Shop Dreams

Success Story: Idaho

Casiano's Auto RepairCollege of Southern Idaho alums Ivan and Jose Casiano graduated with certifications in automotive repair. When they inquired about starting their own business, instructors directed them to the Idaho SBDC. They attended the center’s business planning course and developed a draft business plan with a target market of the Hispanic population in the Mini-Cassia Area.

One of the most valuable pieces of advice from the SDBC was to develop key relationships with the banker, accountant, and attorney. In 2014, when financing was secured, Casiano’s Auto Repair began operations in a leased facility. In 2016, they decided to purchase the building and land as well as the adjacent lot for future development. By 2017, they had added the sale and
support of tires and rims.

Ivan and Jose plan to expand the existing business, develop an adjacent business that complements the current operation, and broaden their target market. They enjoy having control of the business, and the business not controlling them.

For more about the Idaho SBDC, visit

Why Your Business Needs A Content Marketing Strategy In 2018

By Jennifer Lobb

Content Marketing

When it comes to marketing advice, it’s easy to get lost in all the shoulds, shouldn’ts, musts and must nots. Professionals the world over can debate the most effective marketing methods, but in 2017, those seeking the sage advice of others would have a difficult time avoiding a healthy endorsement for content marketing. In fact, 86% of B2Cs and 88% of B2Bs employ some content marketing strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

Not only are businesses utilizing content as part of their overarching strategy, but they’re seeing results. In fact, when asked to rate the success of their content marketing efforts (from extremely effective to not effective), 97% of both B2Cs and B2Bs reported some level of success. Do you have a solid content marketing strategy in place? Looking to really increase brand awareness in the new year? Here are three reasons why you should include content in your 2018 efforts.

Your Brand Becomes a Resource

In case you haven’t noticed, the Internet is a cramped locale. If you can think it, you can search for, and find, it. Beyond that, businesses that want to survive in today’s overwhelmingly competitive landscape need to be online, only adding to the flooded nature of the internet as we know it. But how does one business stand out? How do you convince customers to buy in?  (more…)

Mireles Ice Plant To Manufacture 350 Tons Daily

Success Story: San Antonio, Texas

Mireles Ice PlantPackaging crushed ice into 40 lb. paper bags was the earliest stage of a business that would grow to serve clients across Central and South Texas. Located in San Antonio and opened by Jesus “Jesse” Mireles III in 2001, Mireles Party Ice is the culmination of a family business that has evolved from early roots.

In 1974, with the help of his father, Jesse and his wife Melinda Mireles opened a grocery store that catered to various events, with a high volume of requests for kegs and ice. Although the store became the largest keg distributor in San Antonio, Jesse found greater value in focusing the business on ice manufacturing. Through the 1980’s, the couple purchased ice blocks from local ice companies and packaged crushed ice in paper bags. By the 1990’s, Jesse had acquired two 2,400 lb. ice makers, and in 2001 he built his first ice plant.

With plans to leave the family business to his son, Jesse Mireles IV, Jesse IV assumed the role of vice president and contacted the San Antonio Small Business Development Center for assistance. Since working on the company’s business plan, loan preparation, distribution forecasts and projections, Mireles Party Ice has seen great progress.  (more…)