SCORE Offers Entrepreneurs Free Mentoring, Low-Cost Training

Albuquerque SCOREBy Finance New Mexico

Considering all the business smarts stored in the brains of seasoned executives, it would be a shame to let it go to waste.

SCORE gives entrepreneurs the key to that stored knowledge by pairing them with volunteer mentors who have decades of expertise in all aspects of starting and running a business. It also hosts workshops and seminars that teach basic and advanced skills that are crucial for a business owner to have. Continue reading

Conference Enlightens Veterans About Business Opportunities, Resources

VBOC logoVeterans come to the private-sector workforce with a lot to offer, including advanced training in specialized fields such as logistics, security, information technology, personnel management and administration. They understand the complexities of doing business with the U.S. government and the importance of following instructions and protocol.

Veterans have a mission-driven mind-set and work well under pressure. They appreciate the need for teamwork and leadership. Continue reading

LANS’ Fund Gives Native American Businesses Traction for Growth

By Kathy Keith, Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Relations and Partnerships Office

By Kathy Keith, Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Relations and Partnerships Office

After a successful trial run of its new arts and farmers market last October, Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council Inc. (ENIPC) solidified plans to make the markets a weekly event each Saturday this year from July 9 through the Columbus Day weekend. To maximize the economic benefits to market vendors — Native and non-Native farmers and artists from Northern New Mexico ENIPC — knew it needed to expand marketing to reach potential customers during the busy tourist season.

So ENIPC applied for — and received — funding from the Native American Venture Acceleration Fund (NAVAF), a pool of money distributed by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, and the Regional Development Corporation to help Native enterprises create jobs, increase their revenue base and diversify the Northern New Mexico economy. Continue reading

Accion Teams With National Craft Brewer to Coach Local Entrepreneurs

By Justin Hyde, New Mexico Market Manager, Accion

By Justin Hyde, New Mexico Market Manager, Accion

Nico Ortiz needed money in 2001 after exhausting the startup capital that helped him launch Turtle Mountain Brewing Company in Rio Rancho two years earlier. But without a five-year track record, he said, “no lender would touch me.”

Loan officers suggested Accion New Mexico, and there Ortiz’s luck changed. “It wasn’t a big loan,” he said. “Maybe $20,000. But it enabled me to get over the hump” and sustain the business until its fifth birthday, when traditional lenders were willing to lend. Today the company employs nearly three times as many people as it did in 1999, and its gross revenue has quadrupled.

“Accion is critical, because the (business) failure rate for zero to five years — especially for restaurants — is ginormous,” Ortiz said. “They help fine companies survive.” Continue reading

Old-School PR Can Raise Business Profile Without Stretching Its Budget

By Sandy Nelson, Team Member, Finance New Mexico project

By Sandy Nelson, Team Member, Finance New Mexico project

Small businesses that lack the bloated advertising budgets of their larger competitors can raise their profile with some old-school public relations techniques. Before launching a PR campaign, however, they should understand that PR is different from advertising.

When a business advertises, it pays to place its message on a highly visible medium — a newspaper, magazine, Internet website or billboard — or it pays for airtime on radio or television. It has complete control over the message, as long as the content doesn’t violate industry standards.

By contrast, the public relations approach aims to generate positive news coverage about the business by presenting newsworthy material to a media outlet in hopes an editor will reprint the press release as written or assign a reporter to write an original piece. Continue reading

New Mexico Shrimp Farmers Secure USDA Grant to Expand Market Reach

By Finance New Mexico

By Finance New Mexico

Lemitar is pretty far from the Pacific, but Tim Ott and Abigail “Judy” Armendariz are growing shrimp native to that ocean in a climate-controlled aquaculture plant just north of Socorro.

Their company, Southwestern Seas LLC, has been selling New Mexico-farmed white Pacific shrimp at the Santa Fe Farmers Market for about a year.

The business partners in late November received a $49,500 value-added producer grant from USDA that they plan to use to market their unconventional “crop” to other farmers markets around the state and thus increase sales. Continue reading

Free Online Tool Aims to Help Businesses Succeed in Las Cruces

By Finance New Mexico

By Finance New Mexico

The City of Las Cruces wants local entrepreneurs to know about a new software tool that can help them succeed by accurately assessing how their existing or prospective business compares to industry competitors.

The Web-based program, SizeUp, gives users immediate access to reliable data from public and private sources that they can use to make informed business decisions and write reality-based business plans.

SizeUp has an interactive map that allows businesses to benchmark their performance against that of their competitors, decide where advertising messages are most likely to be seen by their target audience and identify where to find customers, competitors and suppliers. Continue reading

Cross-Promotion Can Help Compatible Businesses Build Client Base

By Finance New Mexico

By Finance New Mexico

Sharing customers seems incompatible with a competitive marketplace, but examples of such cross-promotion are everywhere: the bank or coffee shop that occupies its own niche inside a supermarket, for example, or the fast-food chain that promotes a blockbuster movie with theme-related food offerings.

But the large corporations that take advantage of these strategic arrangements don’t have a franchise on cross-pollination. In fact, many small businesses have found that collaborating with a compatible business or businesses can be mutually beneficial: It can help all parties expand their outreach into new sales channels and build a client base while saving marketing costs. Continue reading

Boots to Business Helps Veterans Start Personal-Security Venture

By Finance New Mexico, with the assistance of John Woosley, Director, U.S. Small Business Administration New Mexico district

BootstoBusinessLogoChris Sweetin was transitioning to civilian life after more than 20 years as an active-duty Air Force flight examiner, engineer and instructor when he heard about the Boots to Business program from a representative of the New Mexico Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC). Continue reading

New Companies Added to List of Growth Leaders

By Val Alonzo, Interim Executive Director, Regional Development Corporation

The staff of Santa Fe-based Mesa Photonics, which was recognized as a 20/20 company in 2013. Santa Fe Mayor Pro Tem Peter Ives is seated. Photo by Jane Phillips.

The staff of Santa Fe-based Mesa Photonics, which was recognized as a 20/20 company in 2013. Santa Fe Mayor Pro Tem Peter Ives is seated. Photo by Jane Phillips.

The Regional Development Corporation of Española is adding to its growing list of businesses it considers likely to add jobs and dynamism to the region’s economy by 2020. The economic development organization is hosting a reception Nov. 12 at the Santa Fe Hilton Historic Plaza Hotel to honor a select group of companies that are receiving its 2015 Northern New Mexico 20/20 Campaign Award.

Award-winners receive operational, financial and technical advice from nonprofit business-service providers that share RDC’s goal of identifying and nurturing robust companies with the potential to double their workforce and revenues by the end of the decade. Continue reading