America's SBDC Blog
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Bringing Wet Shaving to the 21st Century

Success Story: Idaho

The Grooming NetworkImagine bringing the best of Victorian-era masculinity to the 21st century while also creating local jobs and protecting the environment. Luke Webster’s The Grooming Network (TGN) has accomplished all of these since starting up in 2011.

Along with his wife and two business partners, Webster has cornered the market in old-fashioned wet shaving. Webster started with a single product, a website and a small marketing budget. Within a short time, they had over $40,000 in orders and Webster knew they had connected with real need.

Webster and his team at TGN resurrected the lost art form of creating quality, American-made straight razors by patenting a unique process for manufacturing the blades in North Idaho. These reusable razors help reduce landfill shave waste by 96% while saving customers money.

Webster credits his business clarity to working with the North Idaho SBDC. Together, they identified a path forward to create a three-fold increase in his business in the next five years. Webster is on a mission to change the way the world shaves.  (more…)

The Right Way to Close a Credit Card

By Jason Steele –

Credit CardDid you know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to close your small business credit card? If you do it the wrong way, you could miss out on rewards and benefits, and possibly even incur late fees and interest payments. Use these steps to make sure that you close your credit card account the right way.

Consider Alternatives to Closing Your Account

There are some good reasons why you may wish to close your small business credit card account, but many of them can be addressed by your card issuer. The market for small business credit cards is extremely competitive, and card issuers are willing to go to great lengths to retain existing their customers. For example, if you are closing your account because the annual fee is too high, and you let your card issuer know, then it may waive your annual fee to keep your business. Likewise, if the standard interest rate is not competitive, then your card issuer might be able to offer you a lower rate.

And even if you aren’t satisfied with your card’s rewards and benefits, you can actually have your existing account converted to a different card offered by the same issuer, without having to close your account or apply for a new card. This is called a product change, and your existing account information and balance will be retained, while having the rewards, features and benefits of a different card.  (more…)

Horse Lovers Combine Skills, Resources at Danville, Vermont Stable

Northern Lights StableVtSBDC Advising Assists Business Start-Up

Megan Haygood and her family already had the land, hay and equipment needed to start a horse boarding, breeding, training and riding facility in Danville. But they knew they needed more in order to start a successful business. Enter Michelle Lemieux, an established equine trainer and manager, and you have the makings of a quality small business partnership.

The two opened Northern Lights Stable last year after combining Haygood’s resources and Lemieux’s expertise and customer base. “Our business is special as it provides exceptional equine care and 24-hour monitoring, highly skilled training and riding instruction, and a regulation-size indoor competition arena,” Haygood said.

But even with the combination of resources and skills that Haygood and Lemieux brought to the table, they knew they could use additional help before launching the business. That’s why they contacted Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) Area Advisor Ross Hart.  (more…)

Buried in Employee Records?

What to Keep and What to Toss (per Legal Requirements)

Paper FilesSpring is right around the corner – the perfect time to refresh, reboot and get rid of anything that is bogging you down. How about your employee paperwork? Are all those dog-eared files and folders taking over your space … and your patience?

It doesn’t have to be like that! Here are some guidelines for organizing and purging your employee records legally and safely:

1) Build a better foundation

Whether you keep paper or electronic files, best practice is to maintain three separate folders for each employee: personnel, payroll and medical. Personnel files cover everything from job applications to performance reviews, payroll files include salary-related paperwork and time sheets, and medical folders hold documents such as health insurance forms, doctors’ notes and medical leave paperwork.

Store all records in clearly labeled folders – whether paper folders with quick-reference tabs or the consistent naming of electronic folders on your desktop.

2) Ditch it as soon as the law allows

Paperwork can pile up quickly. Identify files that have outlived their legally required retention period and clear them out. Based on applicable federal and state laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you can typically toss records as follows:  (more…)

America’s #SBDC 2018 Client Showcase Takes Center Stage on Capitol Hill

America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) celebrated and showcased 11 clients from around the country in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill February 13th.

The showcase included:
Colorado, Alt Ethos
Florida, Dignitas Technologies
Iowa, Gross-Wen Technologies
North Carolina, KBI (Kepley Biosystems)
Ohio, WaterStep
Louisiana, Tadpole LLC
Wisconsin, MobCraft Beer
Pennsylvania, Play Impossible
Rhode Island, S2S Surgical
Southwest Texas, Taste Elevated
Washington, Whooshh Innovations

Special Guests:
Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business, and
Representative Nydia Velazquez of New York, Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business

“The most important part of what SBDCs do is the clients. Our impact numbers for the national economy are impressive, but what is really impressive is the hard work, ideas and success of our SBDC clients. This showcase gives a glimpse at the array of innovators and doers that SBDCs help every day all across the country,” said Charles “Tee” Rowe, President & CEO of America’s SBDC.

Special thanks to the SBDCs who nominated clients to participate; the 11 clients for taking the time to join us; our SBDC stakeholders and supporters; and the many SBDC leaders who joined us to celebrate. It was a true honor to have all these special people in one room, talking about the great work SBDCs do and their impact locally on the small businesses they serve.

The 63 state and regional Small Business Development Center networks provide free one-on-one consulting to small businesses through nearly 1,000 locations. Job growth for SBDC clients is nearly 10 times greater than job growth for average businesses, and SBDC client sales growth is nearly four times greater than sales growth for businesses in general.

Click here to see the event’s press release, and here for brief descriptions of the showcase clients.

Join us for more celebrations on March 21st, to celebrate SBDC Day! Learn more here.

For more information about America’s SBDC or to find a SBDC near you, go to