Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Shueyville, Swisher count on small business, start-ups to meet economic goals - The Gazette

Shueyville, Swisher count on small business, start-ups to meet economic goals - The Gazette


Shueyville, Swisher count on small business, start-ups to meet economic goals - The Gazette

Posted: 01 Oct 2019 05:03 AM PDT

To some, when it comes to Corridor cities, the term "business growth" can evoke developments in larger communities, such as North Liberty and Coralville.

Tiffin recently has become accustomed to the spotlight, following a recorded 72.6 percent population boom between 2010 and 2017.

Where does that leave the small-town economies in the comparatively diminutive Shueyville and Swisher?

The two cities, with respective populations estimated around 667 and 974 residents, aren't seeing large retail chains opening locations — and those communities aren't necessarily going out of their way to court them, either.

But in both cities — more or less fronting opposite sides of Interstate 380 in northern Johnson County — a blend of residents and out-of-town visitors have helped small businesses both new and old flourish.

Growing up in Shueyville, Lauren Chalupsky-Cannon used to ride her bike down the hill where she currently owns the Secret Cellar, which offers a variety of wines, spirits, cheeses and related classes.

"Who would've thought 40 years later I'd be selling booze in the old white farmhouse?" she wondered, adding, "I think that's part of why this worked so well, that I do have a great connection in the community and I love the people. ... A lot of them are my family and we support each other."

Opening the Secret Cellar in 2004 was a "total burst of inspiration" for Chalupsky-Cannon, who had seen a "for rent" sign driving past the building. Though she said it took years for people to realize the cellar was there — befitting its "secret" name — more recently there has been an uptick in customers, including business travelers and commuters.

"They always comment, 'Oh, this is so cute, you'd never expect you'd have all this inside a two-story farmhouse,' and about just how unique the experience is, that this definitely isn't a 'shopping at a big-box store' experience," Chalupsky-Cannon said.

'We have to be extra good'

Maddi B's pizza and ice cream eatery in Shueyville enjoys consistent support from local customers, too, living not just in the city but in nearby Swisher, Ely and Solon, co-owner Shawn Rife said.

The venue prides itself on providing first jobs for a number of area high schoolers, which in turn results in more traffic, she said.

"Families come here because their kids are here and want to support not only them working but a business that's hiring them," Rife said.

Support among local businesses also is key in continuing to drive customer traffic, said Sonya LaGrange, who opened Swisher's Black Squirrel Tap and Vault Boutique in 2016.

"All of the businesses here in town do a pretty good job of promoting each other," she said. "If people come into the boutique, we try to tell them to go over to Kava or the bar to grab something to eat."

Kava House and Cafe opened "fairly quietly" in Swisher nearly 11 years ago, said co-owner Karen Vondracek, but as it grew, the coffee shop and eatery added menu items, extended its hours and began opening for special events, like graduations or parties, on Sundays.

"I really feel like every year in some way is a milestone," Vondracek said, of operating a restaurant in a small town. "It's not like we're in downtown Iowa City or another town where there's a lot of foot traffic. ... We have to be extra good at what we do to get people to drive here."

GROWING PAINS

Whether Shueyville and Swisher's small-town status equates to limited room for business growth is a question mark.

Shueyville officials currently aren't actively recruiting new businesses, said Mayor Mickey Coonfare, who added that she does not know where the city could accommodate them.

"Some towns are trying to fill vacant buildings and we don't really have that. ... We really don't have an area that you could put businesses in," Coonfare said.

"We have a lot of residential (property) and so you would have to be taking residential away to put businesses in."

Out of 100 Shueyville residents who answered a 2015 community survey, 68 said that the amount of commercial land in town should be increased as a means for expanding the tax base and providing services, while 32 said it should not.

Among the first group, a grocery store, small-scale shops and a restaurant were the top three desired business types.

"We would love to see some more amenities and keep business local instead of always having to drive into C.R. or I.C.!" one respondent wrote.

"I do not think that we need to rezone existing farm ground just so it can be sold. 70+ acres of commercial is way more than we need," suggested another.

Even without big business expansions, Coonfare said Shueyville still is "growing like crazy." She pointed to what she estimated were three to six new homes built each year.

The families moving in do so because they want a "rural atmosphere," she added, and many — who commute to larger cities for work — take advantage of certain amenities, such as a grocery store, elsewhere.

"Years and years and years ago, we did have a little grocery store in town and it couldn't compete," Coonfare said. "You weren't going to shop there because it's like going to the gas station and getting bread: You do it when you have to have it right now, but it's higher (priced) than it is at the grocery store."

Getting the word out

Swisher followed through on one aspect of its 2015 comprehensive plan and allocated $30,000 for a revolving loan fund for entrepreneurs. But so far, no one has inquired about the loans, said Robyn Jacobson, contracts administrator with the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, which would administer the funds.

Through Swisher's fund, small businesses could receive loans ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, with a 4 percent interest rate over a time frame up to five years, for use in buying machinery, equipment, property or making tenant improvements.

Jacobson chalked up the apparent lack of interest in Swisher's fund, and a general one her organization offers up to $500,000, to limited knowledge they exist.

"It's just a matter of getting that information out and having people understand that there are resources available for them," she said.

On the other hand, Chalupsky-Cannon said she believes Shueyville has potential for business growth but "the reins are tight" on account of what she believes could be a conservative mind-set among city officials.

Chalupsky-Cannon said she began holding her now-bustling Friday farmers market in the Secret Cellar's front yard after council members did not approve her request to hold the events in the Shueyville Community Center.

"I understand there are people that have lived here ... their whole lives, and so to be mindful and respectful of them," she said. She added that, without new business, the city eventually could dwindle.

"We're going to get swallowed up by Cedar Rapids and not make any decisions of our own," Chalupsky-Cannon said.

In Swisher, the zoning for some commercial buildings is grandfathered in, rather than permitted under current code, said Rebekah Neuendorf, co-owner of DanceMor Ballroom and a city council member.

As a result, she said, the businesses might not be able to carry out desired expansion plans because they'd then have to bring their buildings into compliance with modern code in ways Swisher might struggle to support.

For example, because the city does not supply water service, the installation of new sprinkler systems might put a strain on the shared wells used, Neuendorf said.

"I have no doubt that some things like that are why DanceMor sat vacant for four years," she said. "It's challenging to think and work around some of those things that are just kind of there right now in Swisher."

LaGrange, of Black Squirrel Tap, is part of a group of around seven Swisher small business owners who hold monthly meetings and discuss their ideas for the community.

One possibility could involve seeing whether the owners of seemingly inactive properties would be interested in selling to an investor for development, she said.

"We're always trying to come up with things that'll pull people in and get the word out," LaGrange said. "If you don't, small towns kind of tend to dry up and there's nothing to do, and people head to the bigger cities for fun stuff when, a lot of the time, small towns are the funnest places to be."

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

Stronger Champion: Third graders start small business, give back to kids in need - KTNV Las Vegas

Posted: 01 Oct 2019 11:05 AM PDT

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Not all heros wear capes. But the young leaders at The Learning Linq in Summerlin do.

A small group of third graders from a program called Global Problem Solvers or the GPS team recently dreamed up and opened a school store with a charitable aspect.

"We sell school supplies and other things kids need for school.," said one of the members, Amelia.

The third graders who make up the GPS team aren't just selling supplies kids need for school. They're also donating supplies to kids in need. For each notebook purchased in their store, they donate one to a local elementary school. The charitable component of their small business was born of an important conversation they had with their teacher about inequality.

"What about school supplies?" asked teacher Amy Larson Novak, "You guys go to school and you don't really have to think about that. Your parents get it for you. But what happens to the kids that don't have that? We talked, in fact it was a whole class period we talked about how there's a lot of kids that don't have that and so that hit them because they know -- what it's like to feel hungry? What's it like to not have something that you want, when you want it?"

Humbled by reality, moved by emotion, the students sprung into action, developing their business plan, researching, designing and and ultimately opening their charitable school store.

"They're learning business and entrepreneurship. They're learning to give back and have a social conscience and they're also learning to think outside the box when it comes to solving a problem and just because you're little doesn't mean you can't," said Novak.

And at just 9- and 10-years-old, these young humanitarians understand that it feels good to give.

"They don't have a lot of supplies so it feels good just to like give them happiness," said Amelia.

For using their heads and hearts to help those in need, for proving you're never too young to make a big difference, we honored the young leaders as our Vegas Stronger Champions of the month.

14 Key Steps New Entrepreneurs Should Take When Starting A Business - Forbes

Posted: 01 Oct 2019 05:15 AM PDT

Owning your own business can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it means that you can work on your own time and set your schedule. On the other hand, navigating an industry as a business owner is considerably more difficult than doing so as an employee or a consumer.

Sometimes, new business owners aren't even aware that they don't know something critical. Luckily, more experienced entrepreneurs who have already found success are here to help new entrepreneurs figure out the essential elements of running a successful business.

We asked 14 entrepreneurs from Forbes Coaches Council about the first steps they took when becoming new business owners. Here's what they had to say.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Know Your 'Why'

Start with the most basic question: "Why do you want to start a business?" If you want more money, maybe you should start a side hustle. If you want more freedom, look what your options are. Be brutally honest with your answer, as it will be the foundation for everything that you do. It'll be your driving force, your North Star. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone and you must have a clear "why." - Lital Marom, UNFOLD Media Group

2. Research The Market

The first step when starting a business should be to research your market so you understand your customer, your competitors and market trends. A market analysis can provide you valuable information so you know where to begin and what you need to focus on as you get started. - Tameika Devine, The Possibilities Institute

3. Focus On Deep Customer Empathy

Interview people who represent your potential customers from a place of empathy. Empathy is a critical skill for being able to anticipate (and effectively address) customer needs and pain points. Once you've tapped into how the customer feels and thinks, you can then use that information to inform your unique offering, brand, customer experience and more! - Jacinta Jimenez, BetterUp

4. Create A Value Proposition

Before you launch a business, you need to create a value proposition. What problem are you solving that your potential customer will pay for? Find out who your ideal customers are. Understand the market for your product or service. In addition, research your competition to see what makes you unique. After you gather this information, you need to develop a marketing strategy to reach your clients. - Katrina Brittingham, VentureReady LLC

5. Follow Your Gut

Trust your instincts but also be smart about it. If you find yourself dreaming about owning your own destiny then go for it, don't be afraid. Do, however, have a plan. Develop a good strategy that allows you to envision the future that you want, then go for it! - Jorge Gutierrez, BMOC Group

6. Find A Mentor

Many businesses fail because they are started by following a dream. Finding one or more mentors dramatically increases the likelihood of success because you don't try to reinvent the wheel; you find people who are willing to help you learn from their experience and wisdom. You don't have to do it alone, nor should you. - Janet Fouts, Tatu Digital Media

7. Interview People In The Field

Before I launched my consulting business, I interviewed a dozen people who had successful practices. They shared invaluable information that helped me refine my business focus and operations. I learned about finances (billing, registration, taxes, record-keeping, etc.), marketing, customer management and explored what niche I could offer. I find most people are generous with advice and want to help. - Wendy Fraser, Fraser Consulting, LLC

8. Hang Out At Business Incubators

I love the concept of "hot-desking" and "incubators." They are a treasure trove of mentors, collaborators and workshops to set you up for success. I've been a part of them in the U.S. and the U.K. These people are your tribe. They watch out for you and help you achieve your full potential. Don't be put off that some are tech-based if you're not. They will still have your back and open doors for you! - Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC

9. Join Industry Associations

When it comes to launching a new business, networking with those who have already launched a successful biz and those who are also just starting out will help you tremendously. Many associations offer mentorship, training and discussion forums. Becoming part of a community within your industry is also another great way to generate leads and gain business knowledge. - Rosa Vargas, Authentic Resume Branding & Career Coaching

10. Make Sure You're Up To The Challenge

I ask, "Are you mentally and emotionally ready for the volatility, ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with owning your own business?" If the client is not realistic about the emotional stress they will experience, their physical health and personal relationships will suffer. I would like to emphasize that not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. - James Davis, The Davis Group Ltd.

11. Get Proper Business Training

Many business owners unnecessarily lose a lot of money because they don't know some business fundamentals when they start. Seek out small business training through your local SCORE chapter, Chamber of Commerce or SBA program. Brush up on the "business basics" of sales, financials, record-keeping and tax advisory. Play small with a "lemonade stand" before you go big, to practice these critical skills. - April Armstrong, AHA Insight

12. Go For A Test Drive

Take a part-time job in the field of your interest. This way you'll not only learn skill sets in real time, you'll also be able to see if the career is a good fit for you. Many people dream of a job they think they'd love, only to find out it wasn't what they were expecting at all. Better to know that upfront before you invest/risk your own money and time. - Anita Hodges, Anita Speaks 2U

13. Don't Reinvent The Wheel

Search at least 10 important offline events in your dream industry. Write several questions about the running business in it. Cross out obvious ones. Go to the event and ask participants as many questions as possible. Don't be shy if somebody won't be too helpful. Do the same with online groups. Become a member. Search for answers in the history of communication. If there were any, ask your questions. - Inga BieliƄska, Inga Bielinska Coaching Consulting Mentoring

14. Be Comfortable Experimenting, Failing and Iterating

While one can go to school or watch hours of YouTube to learn new skills, unless you act on the knowledge and let yourself fail, you won't learn. So, make a decision that you will just act on one decision each day you feel will make a positive impact on the business, then reflect and iterate. - Helen Chao, Ascenditur Recruiting and Interview Right Consulting

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