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

Continuous Improvement Helps Belen Manufacturer Go Global

By Claudia Infante, Projects Coordinator, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Sisneros Brothers Manufacturing embodies the entrepreneurial notion that finding the right niche can transform talent into business success.

Avenicio Sisneros, founder of the Belen company, began as a cabinetmaker in the 1950s but shifted to making and installing sheet metal ducting for houses in 1987. With him were sons Martin, Alex and Philip.

Demand quickly grew beyond the residential market, and the company began manufacturing and installing ductwork for larger commercial customers. By 1990, Sisneros Brothers abandoned installation altogether to focus on manufacturing custom sheet metal ductwork for a wide variety of customers. Continue reading

Investment in Knowledge Can Pay Early Dividends

Market intelligence

By Finance New Mexico

Before putting money into a new venture, savvy entrepreneurs make another kind of investment: the dedication of time for market intelligence. They learn everything possible about the market they wish to enter, who’s succeeding or failing in it and what alternative products or services are currently filling the need the entrepreneur aims to meet.

Market intelligence helps predict demand for a product and can lead to changes in the proposed offering or result in a pivot to another market sector. Continue reading

Rural Development Grant Program Fosters Job Growth

The tribal administrative offices and community center of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, which received RBDG funds

By Finance New Mexico

Nonprofit organizations and government agencies in rural communities have economic development funds at their fingertips through the Rural Business Development Grant program (RBDG) of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. The program is designed to support job creation and economic development efforts of nonprofits and public entities, though small and emerging private businesses can access those funds for certain projects. Continue reading

Use Caution When Lending Startup Money to Family

Happy family

By Finance New Mexico

It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to start even a small business, and raising that kind of startup capital is challenging to someone with little savings, a blemished or nonexistent credit history or a loan rejection from a bank. If that someone is a relative, there’s a good chance you’ll be approached for a loan.

If you have the means, it’s hard to refuse such a request — especially if you believe your family member has the potential to build a successful, profitable business. Continue reading

Streamlined Food Prep Helps Local Chain Expand

By Claudia Infante, Projects Coordinator, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Rolling pizza doughAs Albuquerque-based Dion’s restaurant turned its entrepreneurial vision toward larger markets outside New Mexico in 2014, owners of the privately owned chain thought it was a good time to review operations with an eye to improving efficiency in its 20 existing outlets.

So Dion’s asked the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership to offer its expert assessment of how the restaurant was preparing and serving food and to suggest how it could modify the process to give the restaurant more value for its efforts. Continue reading

Federal Reserve Wants to Hear From New Mexico Businesses

By Finance New Mexico

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City wants to hear from small businesses in New Mexico about the experiences they’re having in the credit market.

Every year, most banks in the Federal Reserve system’s 12-bank network participate in a national Small Business Credit Survey to get the data they need to provide policymakers, business representatives and service providers with up-to-date information about business financing and credit conditions. Northern New Mexico falls under the jurisdiction of the Kansas City district, while Southern New Mexico is under Dallas’ district umbrella. Continue reading

Value Stream Mapping Boosts Productivity for Awning Maker

Rader Awning shade sails

Rader Awning shade sails; courtesy Rader Awning

Sometimes it just takes a fresh perspective — and expertise in lean manufacturing — to help a respected manufacturer streamline productivity and increase profitability.

The owners of Rader Awning & Upholstery Inc. requested that type of feedback when their 70-year-old company, New Mexico’s leading supplier of quality custom awnings and shades, faced challenges satisfying growing demand. Continue reading

Aztec’s Retail Incubator Aims to Nurture Downtown

By Finance New Mexico

The incubator's first tenant, 550 Brewing; photo courtesy 550 Brewing

The incubator’s first tenant, 550 Brewing; photo courtesy 550 Brewing

Aztec isn’t the only town in New Mexico whose residents want a vibrant and stable downtown business district, but it’s one town where leaders are moving forward with plans to create that environment.

Spurred by the city’s economic development advisory board, the Four Corners community is opening a retail incubator in a downtown building to nurture fledgling businesses until they’re ready to stand on their own.

The Aztec Business Incubator (also called the Aztec Business Hub) will host businesses in various stages of development and provide member businesses access to the expertise of service providers from the Small Business Development Center, WESST, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Four Corners Economic Development and the San Juan College Enterprise Center. A representative from each of these organizations will staff the hub one day a week. Continue reading

Makerspaces Nurture Business Development by Offering Workspace, Tools

By Finance New Mexico

FUSE Makerspace

Photo courtesy CNM Ingenuity Inc Facebook page

Uncertainty about the commercial viability of an innovation or idea — in addition to the cost of renting or buying the machinery needed to build a working prototype — has stifled many an entrepreneurial impulse. But the makerspace movement that’s gaining a foothold in several New Mexico communities is trying to change that.

Makerspaces offer access to expensive equipment and expert mentoring that innovators need to turn a concept into something tangible. Their advocates see them as cauldrons of entrepreneurism and economic development — as early-stage business incubators. Continue reading