How to Hire Your First Employee (& When)

October 29, 2018

By Linsey Knerl –

EmployeeCongrats! Your small business is growing, and you’re starting to consider if it’s the right time to add on to your talent pool with your first, real hire. Up until now, you may have been relying on your own hard work, independent contractors, or even family members to get all the necessary tasks in your company accomplished. So, how do you know when you’re ready to take the plunge and raise your status to legal employer? These guidelines may help.

Know if You Need an Employee Now

Many tasks related to your business could be done by working with another independent contractor instead of an employee. While the determination should be made by following the laws stated for your state or local area, it’s generally OK to hire a contractor for tasks not specific to your business. Having someone come in and clean your t-shirt printing facility, for example, could be a freelance opportunity. Requiring someone to run your shop, print t-shirts, and deal with customers, however, is more likely an employee situation. Before you look at hiring an employee, be certain that it is indeed an employee you need to hire.  (more…)

An Energy Engineer Overcomes Obstacles to Bring Business to Light

October 1, 2018

Success Story: Idaho –

Idaho SBDC success - RetroluxRetrolux was founded by Leif Elgethun, a self-described serial clean energy entrepreneur and advocate for a world as a carbon neutral society. After building software and honing workflows that greatly reduced the time and cost required to sell and install commercial building lighting retrofits for a former employer, Leif decided to found Retrolux.

This company seeks to accelerate the adoption of market-ready technologies that decrease fossil fuel usage and toxic materials in the lighting market by providing software that brings products to consumers faster and cheaper than ever before. With his background in energy engineering and project management, the first major obstacle was learning how to build a software company. The next obstacle was raising the capital required to build enterprise-grade software and bring it to market.

The SBA and SBDC were very influential in Leif & co-founder Brett Adler’s preparation for pitching to angel investors and making sure they had the supporting documentation they required. Retrolux was able to raise $600k in May, 2016, to help the company build the software and get it to market.  (more…)

Artists in Business

September 10, 2018

Success Story: Vermont –

Vermont Success - DaValliaTwo amazingly talented artists (Jessie makes exquisite jewelry and Michael makes eclectic furniture), plus a passion for their fellow Vermont artists’ works, plus an incredible shared eye for all things beautiful: for Jessie and Michael Alon that means not just one gallery, but two. One can’t contain their creativity and dedication.

Nestled in the quintessential village of Chester, Vermont, the downtown gallery, DaVallia Art Boutique, features Jessie’s work combined with arts and crafts from fifty artists. And on the way out of town, Davallia 39 North Gallery focuses on fine art, furniture and accessories for your home.

“Our business is special because we truly love what we do. We elevate all aspects of our business to the level of art. We display differently, we think differently and we care. By being both artists and business owners, we have the ability to apply our creative skills into our business plan. If you leave our gallery with nothing but inspiration, we did our jobs.”

Jessie and Michael say working with VtSBDC has allowed them to: 1. create consistency and fluidity in their message to their customers; 2. know more about employee hiring and training; 3. stay focused on the important things; 4. craft a better elevator speech; and 5. perfect a budget.  (more…)

From Hobby to Growing BBQ Business

August 20, 2018

Success Story: Idaho

Pitmaster BBQRob Harding spent 25 years in healthcare administration. He turned his love of good BBQ into a hobby, then into a thriving business.

At a wedding reception catered by Rob, his BBQ ribs received rave reviews — from guests who happened to be judges from the Memphis of May International BBQ contest. He began entering BBQ competitions in 2008.

After winning many awards, he opened an Idaho Falls restaurant in 2012, where they make everything in-house every day and serve high-grade meats cooked low and slow over real wood. This commitment to quality has made Pitmaster BarBQue Company the most awarded BBQ restaurant in Idaho.

Rob came to the SBDC because he needed someone to discuss his current and future business growth in a confidential environment. “The consultants played a key role in helping me think through growth strategies,” said Rob.  (more…)

A Housing Solution For People With Mobility Issues

July 16, 2018

Success Story, Vermont SBDC –

Wheel Pad L3CIn 1988, Architect Joseph Cincotta and Julie Lineberger, started LineSync Architecture, an award winning firm currently with 9 employees. Wheel Pad L3C, their second enterprise, evolved from an accident in 2010 that rendered their Godson quadriplegic and forced to live isolated in an accessible hotel room for eight months after rehab until he could find appropriate housing.

While designing the universally accessible renovations for a home their Godson eventually purchased, Joseph came up with the idea for Wheel Pad and started building the prototype in 2015: A 200 sq.ft. accessible bedroom and bathroom that can be attached to an existing home. It provides eco-friendly, temporary, accessible housing for people with mobility issues, allowing friends and/or family to provide support until permanent accessible housing can be arranged. Permanent models are also available.

Wheel Pad L3C offers a housing solution for disabled Veterans, Seniors, people with spinal cord injuries, and multiple diseases (ALS, MS, etc.) who have mobility issues and/or use wheelchairs, who want to remain in their currently inaccessible homes. It is an elegant solution that alleviates the need for a 6-12 month process of planning, designing, and constructing an addition. Additionally, it is local; it serves a social issue as well as an economic one. Their plan is to manufacture Wheel Pad units in economically depressed Wilmington, VT, with the end goal of an employee-owned enterprise.  (more…)