Bringing Wet Shaving to the 21st Century

March 19, 2018

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

March 12, 2018

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

March 5, 2018

VtSBDC Advising Assists Business Start-Up –

Northern Lights StableMegan 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?

February 28, 2018
What to Keep and What to Toss (per Legal Requirements)

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.  (more…)