New Program Helps Small Businesses Prepare to Become Federal Suppliers

By Sandy Nelson for Finance New Mexico

xEnergizeGovernment organizations save money on procurement the same way private companies do — by finding volume discounts on products and services. Such economies of scale benefit the companies that can afford them, and they stretch taxpayer dollars, but they also squeeze out small businesses that don’t have the capacity to complete large, national jobs or work on tight profit margins. Continue reading

Farmington Manufacturer’s Growth Doubles With NM MEP’s Help — and ‘Poka-Yoke’ 

By Damon Scott for Finance New Mexico

Tom Gibbons in his shop

It was a strategy Farmington business owner Tom Gibbons didn’t see coming. Let alone one that would help position him to achieve big results for San Juan Closet Works, his custom closet manufacturing company that specializes in storage and organization solutions for residential and business clients.

The New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NM MEP) used a little Japanese-inspired ingenuity, “poka-yoke,” to help Gibbons not only grow business, but focus on his next goal. “I have a plan to retire in two years,” Gibbons said. “I’ve reached the ceiling for how much work I can do with two people.” Continue reading

Sustained Relationship Enables Auto Shop’s Success

By Matt Loehman, Development and Special Projects Director, The Loan Fund

Perez Collision in Albuquerque

Jordan Perez, left, and Aaron Perez

Aaron Perez isn’t sure how he heard about The Loan Fund, but he’s certainly glad he did. Twelve years ago, the Albuquerque entrepreneur needed about $16,000 for equipment and working capital for the auto shop he co-owns with his brother, Jordan Perez, but the two were having a hard time getting a bank loan because they didn’t have adequate collateral or a credit history that would help them qualify. Continue reading

Help is Here: Small Business Pros Available at All Levels

By Sandy Nelson for Finance New Mexico

National organizations like the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and local resources like Finance New Mexico are setting the table for small New Mexico businesses that hunger for information and assistance. And what they offer is a fiesta of staples and specials to whet any entrepreneurial appetite. Continue reading

Enrichment Program Prompts Greater Interest in Venture Acceleration Fund

By Sandy Nelson for Finance New Mexico

Tall Foods co-founders Andrea Romero and Adam Wachtor

Co-founders Andrea Romero and Adam Wachtor of Tall Foods, a 2017 VAF recipient.

Every early stage business needs capital to grow, but a company that lacks collateral to procure traditional debt financing and is too immature to interest equity investment can idle for years in a financing limbo.

In Northern New Mexico, the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) helps promising early stage startups get back in gear. And the VAF Enhancement Project now offers additional technical assistance to current and aspiring VAF recipients. Continue reading

Pilot Program Allows Accion Greater Flexibility in Business Lending

By Sandy Nelson and Taura Costidis for Finance New Mexico

Reduced risk for lenders

Nonprofit lender Accion is partnering with the U.S. Small Business Administration to offer a type of business loan — the Community Advantage loan — that allows more entrepreneurs to have their loan requests approved.

Accion is the only Community Development Financial Institution in the state to participate in this pilot SBA program that began in 2012. And Accion offers the loan in all five states where it does business: New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Texas. Continue reading

Equity Investors Have Much to Offer New Mexico Entrepreneurs

Raising business capital

By Sandy Nelson for Finance New Mexico

While New Mexico hasn’t attracted the type of venture capital that flocks to entrepreneurial hot spots like San Francisco and other West Coast cities, equity investors are pumping money into promising startups all over the state. Those investors might be venture capitalists, but they’re more likely to be angel investors, family members and friends, and crowdfunders.

In 2016, according to the National Venture Capital Association, 11 New Mexico companies received capital funding from venture capitalists — small potatoes when compared with VC investment in more than 2,650 companies in California and 84 in Arizona. Continue reading

New Mexico Capital Connector Responds to a New Environment

By Paul Braverman for Finance New Mexico

Meow Wolf spider sculpture

Spider sculpture at Meow Wolf; photo courtesy Creative Startups

When the educational and networking nonprofit Coronado Ventures Forum (CVF) launched in 1994, most professional equity investments in New Mexico were being made in lab spin-off companies — those formed to commercialize technology developed at one of the state’s two national laboratories. CVF brought California-based venture capitalists to New Mexico to impart knowledge and best practices to neophyte investors and entrepreneurs.

Twenty-three years later, the organization is still focused on education and building the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, but like many of the entities it helps, CVF has stayed relevant by responding to a changing environment. Continue reading

WESST Workshop Helps Businesses Orient to Customers With Disabilities

By Sandy Nelson and Taura Costidis for Finance New Mexico

Disabilities Welcome montageBusiness owners who don’t consider the impact of dollars spent by people with disabilities are missing a market opportunity. Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) can raise a business’s costs, but the rewards of making a business accessible to members of America’s largest minority community more than compensate for the investment.

More than 58 million Americans live with some type of disability, and that number is expected to grow as the last of the post-World War II baby boomers reaches 65, according to Julie Ballinger, a disability rights consultant affiliated with the Southwest ADA Center — one of 10 ADA centers nationwide. Continue reading

Successful Elevator Pitches Are Part Prep, Part Improv

By Sandy Nelson, Finance New Mexico

Whether it’s made on an elevator or on the ground floor, the 30- to 60-second business pitch that’s named for the place it’s often made should sound unrehearsed and authentic even if it’s the product of exhaustive thought and preparation — which it should be.

The “elevator pitch” is a concise summary of a product, service or idea that is so intriguing or compelling that the listener wants to hear more. It’s the hook that catches the attention of the potential investor, client or collaborator. Continue reading