Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Happy birthday!

Tracking your time

Thank you all for attending and for continuing to work on your business plans. Kudos to Juan for turning in a draft of the budget for his business plan, to Magdalena for furthering her catering experience by organizing this event, and to others for sharing treats and camaraderie.

We were honored by the excellent, practical and openhearted advice given by Veronica LaCrue, our speaker. One of her key points is the importance of tracking how you spend your time so that you will know how many hours you have to devote to growing your business, and so you will be able to answer questions from a potential investor about what you do and what results you produce. You need to know what the categories are on which you spend time, e.g., management, training, sales, performing a service, etc., and to think about whether you should reduce the time in one area and increase it in another. She also advised that an entrepreneur needs to know this information regarding employees; there are many uses for this information, such as making sure your resources are being spent properly, understanding where an employee needs more training, and being able to estimate and bill a job correctly.

One of Veronica's earliest jobs was as a telemarketer, where she learned from experience that success is to a large extent a numbers game. If you want more sales, you must make more calls, even though it may be hard to do. She and others in business understand that, for example, if you need more clients and make 50 calls, perhaps you will have a chance to talk with 25 of them. perhaps 7 or 8 will be interested in what you have to say and 2-3 of these will give you an appointment and possibly even a sale. You have to avoid getting discouraged and just go on to the next call.

One of her best abilities is recognizing her own skills and building upon them. Despite lacking a formal higher education when she first started her business, she had learned that she was good at telemarketing and knew what it took to become a success in that business. So she contacted small businesses and offered to help them set up telemarketing programs. She parlayed a relatively low-wage position into the role of a highly paid marketing and management consultant. To do this required confidence and determination, as well as constant evolution of her business to meet the changing needs of the marketplace.

We are grateful that Veronica included our class in the time she volunteers to help the community.

During the class, we also did a role play in which everyone acted as if we were friends and potential investors as Efrain presented a case to the rest of us as to why giving him money would be wise. Knowing the market, which competitors are successful and which are not (and why), deciding whether to focus on improving service to existing customers or to risk buying expensive new equipment to move into a new area, and budgeting for immediate and future needs were some of the important topics discussed.

We have only three classes left and we have speakers scheduled between 8 and 9 pm for each. Please make the best use of your time by contacting your mentors or me between classes, and bring written elements of your business plans to discuss with your classmates.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cinco de Mayo celebration!

photo by Magdalena

The ESL for Professional Life class enjoyed delicious Nepalese treats, as well as those favorite Mexican dishes, pizza and cheesecake! Each student had completed part of a life plan or business plan and was thus eligible to compete for a prize. Four tickets to the Longmont Symphony's mariachi night May 10 were awarded, thanks to Longmont Sister Cities and Dan Benavidez. As you can see from the photo, this is an active group, hardly standing still for a moment. (That's why they succeed!)

Three students have already consulted with their mentors and some have begun their market research with onsite visits.

Class space is generously provided by Intercambio and Casa de la Esperanza.

Tasks and resources for class May 12

Hello, everyone! These links will help you see how much you can learn by using the Internet and the library. Please follow up by contacting at least two of these organizations and send me a note about what you learned. We will discuss it in class next Monday night as we practice English.

I have contacted the Latino Chamber of Commerce, the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, and the Boulder/Longmont Small Business Association seeking assistance, including mentors.

At 8:00 pm, Dan Benavidez, a Longmont leader, will join us to talk about his experience in the community as a businessperson and environmental activist. He founded an export-import business and is on the boards of EcoCycle and the Longmont Symphony. His sister is active in Longmont Sister Cities, a nonprofit that brings teens from a Japanese city and a Mexican city to Longmont and takes Longmont teens there to foster intercultural communication. Dan and Lee generously obtained the tickets to the mariachi event this Saturday night that were awarded in class.



Boulder business license:
I Googled "Boulder business license" and found this site: www.ci.boulder.co.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=

Colorado state regulations:
You will also find information at www.revenue.state.co.us/main/home.asp.

Have you been to the Boulder Chamber of Commerce office yet on Folsom? It would probably be a good idea for you to look into their business training program (contact Sharon King at sharon@boulderchamber.com), and also stop by and pick up any information they have for those interested in opening a business in Boulder.

You can also find business data at:


You will find contact information for city, state and federal business-related offices at:

Longmont Economic Gardening Initiative: Any business in Longmont is eligible to participate through a combination of peer counseling, access to research data, data analysis, market analysis, plus competitive and industry intelligence. The initial interview, counseling, research data, and data analysis are free. (Keep trying if you don't get a call back.)

Here is a list of businesses that are members of the Latino Chamber of Commerce. Call someone who has the kind of business you are interested in and ask them about it. You might find a mentor!

Here are some more sites found by Googling "export import business":

(see links at bottom of page)


Export-Import Bank of the U.S.

The Boulder Public Library has books on the subject:

Find books on starting a business at the Longmont Public Library. You can Google "Longmont Public Library" and search the catalog for "start a business":

The Boulder County Business Report is an excellent source of information, at the library or online:

Also see the Boulder Economic Council site at www.boulderbusiness.org/

I Googled "popcorn business" and found several sites, including one about a business plan at www.smallbusinesspoint.com/sbppopcorn.aspx

I found an interview about Doc Popcorn at www.newwest.net/topic/article/an_interview_with_a_colorado_

www.docpopcorn.com/ (franchise opportunities available)

I hope this gives you more to move forward. You really contribute a lot to the class.