Teamwork, Flexibility Are Key to Managing Creative Employees

By Sandy Nelson, Finance New Mexico team member

By Sandy Nelson, Finance New Mexico team member

Managing creative people can be confounding to business leaders who prefer order and structure. But learning how to manage or lead “creatives” is critical to recruiting and retaining the natural nonconformists whose unconventional ideas can lead to transformative products and services.

The trick is to balance a business’s need for on-time, on-budget work with the nonlinear thinker’s need for challenge, risk and meaning.

Some companies have famously figured out how to foster a culture of creativity and profitability, whether they’re producing forward-thinking commodities (think Apple and Samsung), services (Google, Facebook), business models (Virgin Group), operational designs (Southwest Airlines) or manufacturing processes (Toyota). Continue reading

A Score That Matters: What FICO Means to Small Business Borrowers

By Finance New Mexico

By Finance New Mexico

When a business applies for a loan, the lender reviews the credit score of the owner or owners and uses that information to assess risk. While the score is only one metric of financial stability, it can determine whether the business gets the loan at all, how much it can borrow and what interest terms it can expect.

For that reason, business owners need to know their scores and maintain the highest possible number by paying bills on time or getting help to correct money-management problems. Continue reading

U.S.-Backed Loan Program Helps Businesses Buy Growth Assets

By Norma Valdez, Community Development Director, The Loan Fund

By Norma Valdez, Community Development Director, The Loan Fund

Small companies often lease space before buying or building a property that allows them to expand or modernize. When they’re ready for that leap of faith, the U.S. Small Business Administration can help by underwriting a significant portion of any loan they need.

The SBA’s 504 loan program is a public-private partnership administered through a Certified Development Company (CDC) that helps small, independently owned companies secure the fixed assets — such as land, building and equipment — that they need to grow and be competitive. Continue reading

5S System Simplifies Production to Improve Profits

Jennifer Sinsabaugh

By Jennifer Sinsabaugh, Operations Director, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Companies can cut production time, eliminate waste and improve profitability by carefully studying, critiquing and refining the steps involved in manufacturing a product. They can even get better at processing invoices, orders and other paperwork using the same procedure. The nonprofit New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or New Mexico MEP, helps companies refine this flow on the manufacturing floor and in the business office.

One tool we use to help businesses improve workplace organization and standardization is a workshop on the “5 S” system. This system deconstructs production into its individual parts to see what steps add value and which waste time and resources.

The five S’s in the plan’s name stand for sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain. Continue reading

Young Adults Are Target of Entrepreneurial Initiative

By Michelle Miller, founder and CEO, High Desert Discovery District

By Michelle Miller, founder and CEO, High Desert Discovery District

A frequent lament of New Mexico’s business community is the loss of brainpower and energy that results when young people move out of state to pursue economic opportunities they can’t find at home.

This exodus isn’t unique to New Mexico and, by itself, isn’t cause for alarm.

No matter where they live, young people almost always leave their home state after completing their schooling or training, even if they obtained that education tuition-free at New Mexico universities. Exploring the larger world and all its offerings helps young adults mature into self-aware global citizens — an asset to any community they choose to settle in.

What most concerns economic-development advocates is how to make New Mexico that destination of choice for our dispersed millennials — the generation now in its 20s and 30s. Continue reading

New Mexico Businesses Start Big with Franchise Ambitions

Olo Yogurt Studio

Olo Yogurt Studio

By Finance New Mexico

Multinational franchises like McDonald’s and KFC started small and worked their way up the food chain over decades. That methodical approach to growth seems too slow for the owners of two Albuquerque businesses.

Before Olo Yogurt Studio opened its first store in 2010 and WisePies served its first pizza in 2014, the owners of both ventures planned to become franchises — and to waste no time doing it.

Olo Yogurt opened a second store — a carbon copy of its colorful original — within three years and was strengthening its brand for further expansion. Continue reading

Federal Program Offsets Cost of Solar Power for Belen Pecan Farm

Terry Brunner

By Terry Brunner, New Mexico State Director, USDA Rural Development

Mike and Kathy Mechenbier used to wait until night, when electricity was cheaper, to irrigate their pecan farm near Belen. Now the couple lets the sun create no-cost power to run the pecan farm’s irrigation pumps during the day.

With help from a $107,100 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, the couple installed a 564-panel solar array at the Burris Pecan Farm, which is owned by their Four Daughters Land and Cattle Company.

Because they will receive production credits from Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) for any surplus energy generated by their 147-kilowatt system, the Mechenbiers hope Continue reading

High-Flying Vista Photonics Recognized for Growth Potential

By Kathy Keith, Executive Director, Regional Development Corporation

By Kathy Keith, Executive Director, Regional Development Corporation

Jeffrey and Melissa Pilgrim launched Vista Photonics in 2003 to research how laser-based trace-gas sensors could be developed for a variety of commercial and project-specific uses.

Among other innovations, the company created an instrument that helps farmers plan harvests by measuring how much ethylene gas crops emit to accelerate ripening. But the couple’s favorite brainchild so far is the optical life gas analyzer they developed for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration. The device monitors gas levels on the International Space Station — a function that’s critical to maintaining a balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor and ammonia in the craft’s controlled atmosphere. Continue reading

Return on Investment Begins at the Drawing Board

By Finance New Mexico

By Finance New Mexico

Businesses invest lots of human and capital resources into marketing, asset purchases and outreach. Their goal is to generate the best return on every dollar spent, every hour worked and every keystroke made.

Return on investment, or ROI, measures how much money or other tangible benefits the business makes on every investment.

For example, if a business invests in a modern computer system to expand its reach and improve its service to Internet shoppers, the return on investment would measure how many new customers it gained and how much these newcomers spent. Continue reading

Clovis Video Producer Gets Boost With Accion Loan

By Alfonso Ramos, Accion Loan Officer

By Alfonso Ramos, Accion Loan Officer

Randy Johnston needed working capital for his Clovis video production business two years ago and approached his banker for a loan.

Johnston had a decade of experience producing infomercials and videos and doing web design and computer animation through his company, 12th Gate Studios, but he needed a small infusion of cash to meet his ongoing financial obligations so he could pursue opportunities to build the business’s client base.

The bank wasn’t able to accommodate Johnston’s request because he hadn’t been an account holder long enough to qualify. But his loan officer referred Johnston to Accion New Mexico (Accion), a nonprofit community development financial institution that specializes in serving entrepreneurs whose businesses don’t yet qualify for traditional credit — startups, for example — and who seek a “microloan” of as little as a few hundred dollars or a larger loan of up to $750,000. Continue reading