Category: Economic Development

start-up-weekend

Do you have an idea you’d like to build out? Do you want to meet motivated, talented hustlers like yourself? Startup Weekend is the perfect circumstance to build a company—or at least as much as you can build in 54 hours!

What is Startup Weekend? Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of ambitious entrepreneurial minds of various skill sets who are looking to practice and learn the basics of founding and launching a startup venture successfully. It is a unique opportunity to get your startup off the ground, risk free.

Just down the hill from Nevada County, Startup Weekend Sacramento is hosting its next event at Impact Venture Capital’s Downtown campus November 11-13. Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of ambitious entrepreneurial minds of various skill sets who are looking to practice and learn the basics of founding and launching a startup venture successfully. It is a unique opportunity to get a brand new startup off the ground, risk-free. Startup Weekend is for everyone — you don’t need to pitch an idea to participate.  For more information or to register, visit the Startup Sacramento website.

Are you looking for coworking in Nevada City? High speed internet in Nevada County? Just a really great place to work?

Sierra Commons is Nevada County’s best coworking space. We have some of the best and brightest of Nevada County under our roof. Nevada County’s remote workers and freelancers work at Sierra Commons.  We house Software Engineers, Film Makers, Journalists, Writers, Lobbyists, Copy Editors, Small Business Owners, and more.  Sierra Commons has been a staple of the Nevada County community for 7 years. In 1999, when founded, we were one of the first rural coworking spaces in all of the United States. Now we have partnerships all over Northern California and in the Tahoe/Truckee area.


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We are the destination for weekenders from the Bay Area and Sacramento and we offer tourists and locals drop-in rates, day use, high-speed internet, and a fun place to work. Enjoy our beautiful summer patio. Come for the high-speed internet and stay for the community.

We are located in Nevada City on Searls Avenue.  We are next to Wild Mountain Yoga and we are central to Three Forks Bakery and Brewery, Matteo’s Public, Lefty’s Grill, the National Hotel, Broad Street Inn and the Inn Town Campground.

Sierra Commons will be offering our next Business Ignitor, Nevada County’s premier start-up incubator, starting on February 4th, 2016.  Registration is now open and, for the first time, Sierra Commons is able to offer scholarships to qualified individuals. Nevada County’s Small Business Education Center, has received a generous donation from the Nevada City Rotary Club and a matching donation from an anonymous donor in order to provide two scholarships to Nevada County’s premier start-up incubator, Sierra Commons’ Business Ignitor.

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The Business Ignitor includes eight weeks of coursework, materials, business mentoring, as well as three months free membership to Sierra Commons’ coworking space, located in Nevada City.  The course covers everything from accounting and law, to marketing and non-traditional funding such as crowd-sourcing.  It is designed to make sure that when the course is completed, the students have the confidence and knowledge to succeed in starting and running a viable business.

“Three of the key objectives of Rotary are affirming the value of each vocation, uplifting youth and young adults, and dignifying both as opportunities to serve society,” says David Bunje, President of the Nevada City Rotary Club. “Business Ignitor courses have already made a significant impact benefiting the rich mix of enterprises in Nevada County, and the Rotary Club of Nevada City is very excited to support additional young adults who seek to channel their creativity toward being a positive, productive participant in the business life of the community.”

Sierra Commons has expanded the scope of the Business Ignitor to include a class on crowd funding and to give further information on marketing and finding your ideal client.  The class covers a wide variety of topics and is suitable for people who are looking to start a business or solo venture and for those who are currently running a small business.

Sierra Commons has been a resource for small businesses in Nevada County for over six years and understands the unique and diverse economy of the Sierra Foothills.  Past Ignitor graduates have gone on to start and manage effective businesses in a variety of industries.  Sierra Commons has helped to start successful restaurants, cottage food companies, online marketing businesses, clothing companies, design services, and more.

The per-student fee is $450 and class registration is open now.  Sierra Commons is currently taking applications for scholarships.  The application deadline for scholarship opportunities is February 1st, 2016.  If you would like to sign up for the Business Ignitor or to learn more about the scholarship program, visit the Sierra Commons website at www.sierracommons.org or call 530-265-8443.

We have expanded our Business Ignitor course from 6 weeks to 8 weeks and registration is now open! Classes start on February 4th and will be held for eight weeks on Thursday nights from 6pm-9pm.

 

In our new Business Ignitor we will include a class on crowd funding and give further information on marketing and finding your ideal client.  The class covers a wide variety of topics and is suitable for both people who are looking to start a business or solo venture and for those who are currently running a small business.

The economy has changed a lot in the last five years since we started offering our Business Ignitor, Nevada County’s premier start-up incubator.  We are excited to expand our curriculum and to offer our community access to the latest and cutting-edge concepts in business and entrepreneurship.

According to a study done by Bloomberg Business, just over 80% of all new businesses are out of business within twelve months.  That means 8 out of 10 new business fail within the first year.  In the last quarter of 2015, more than 100 new fictitious business names were filed in Nevada County.

Sierra Commons, Nevada County’s non-profit business education center and coworking space, has helped start-ups in Nevada County succeed with their Business Ignitor course.  We have a proven track record in Nevada County.  More than 65% of Business Ignitor graduates are still in business after their first year.

Sierra Commons has been a resource for small businesses in Nevada County for over six years and understands the unique and diverse economy of the Sierra Foothills.  Past Ignitor graduates have gone on to start and manage effective businesses in a variety of industries.  Sierra Commons has helped to start successful restaurants, cottage food companies, online marketing businesses, clothing companies, design services, and more.

The per-student fee is $450 and class registration is open now.  Scholarships may be available to qualifying individuals.  If you would like to sign up for the Business Ignitor or learn more, visit the Sierra Commons website at www.sierracommons.org or call 530-265-8443.

Deadline for applications: February 1st, 2016

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First day of class: February 4th, 2016

Class is held on Thursdays 6pm-9pm for 8 weeks starting on February 4th and ending on March 31st. (No class on March 3rd.)

Please submit (in PDF format) a cover letter and an outline of your business plan or proposal to:

info@sierracommons.org

Please include (in PDF format) a list of references, current organizational affiliations, and/or any community service projects you have worked on.

Please use the title “scholarship” for your email.

This scholarship is open to students of all ages who are currently in enrolled in classes.  Applicants must be in the process of starting a small business, or currently working on a pitch idea, a solo project, or start up.

Please indicate in your cover letter why you are interested in taking Sierra Commons’ Business Ignitor and if you would be interested in pursuing the coursework, even if not awarded a scholarship.

One or two months from now you will be thinking about the goals you set for 2016 and, if you are like most people, you will be wondering where the time went and what you could have done differently to help yourself be more successful. Let Sierra Commons help “Future You” by offering advice to “Present-Day You”: Get together with a community of people who have a drive to succeed. Stay actively involved with a support system and a team of people who keep you accountable.  Dedicate a schedule to allow for setting goals and meeting timelines.  Coworking may offer you the support in a structured environment that you are looking for.

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Sierra Commons, Nevada City’s Coworking Space, offers desk rental, membership, classes, workshops, mentoring and a community of fun, determined people who work in a professional environment with a friendly and casual atmosphere.  Come for the high-speed internet.  Stay for the community.  To find out more about coworking, call 530-265-8443 or click here.

In a sudden and unexpected move, the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA) announced yesterday that it would be closing permanently. Employees arrived to work at SARTA on Tuesday morning only to be sent home.  Employees were told that they were out of a job and wouldn’t need to come back.

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Like Sierra Commons in Nevada County, SARTA has been a pivotal force in economic development in the Sacramento region.  Focusing on the tech aspect of many industries, SARTA has been instrumental in connecting people to resources and helping small business owners with support and education.  Many businesses in the Sacramento region have used SARTA’s resources to network, find funding, and to take their businesses to the next level.  Sierra Commons has partnered with SARTA for multiple events in the past and has enjoyed the resources that SARTA has offered.  The loss of SARTA in Sacramento will have a lasting impact on small business development in the region.

In a statement about SARTA’s closing, CEO Howard Bubb said, “The region has evolved to the point that businesses and individuals are putting their support elsewhere.  There is only so much funding available for economic development.”

Sadly, Howard Bubb is absolutely right.  Sierra Commons, Nevada County’s non-profit business education center and coworking space, supports its overhead with rental income from desk and office rental in our coworking facility.  Our staffing and education programs are entirely dependent on the support of donations, volunteers, and, occasionally, grant money.  Sadly, this support has declined dramatically in the past two years.

Sierra Commons has helped to start and support a number of business locally and regionally in Nevada County.  Some of our past clients and graduates of our signature course, our “Business Ignitor,” include Shana Maziarz of Three Forks Bakery and Brewery, Victoria LaFont of Truly Healthy Protein Powder, Dave Myler of Boga Paddle Boards, Erin Noel of Community Legal, and many, many more.

Don’t let Sierra Commons face the same fate as SARTA.  Support your local economic development center.  Help Sierra Commons support your local businesses and local economy.  Donate now.

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I had a problem at work today that surprised me.

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I had a wonderful meeting this morning with a wonderful business coach.  She is a qualified teacher and she has volunteered as a faculty member with Sierra Commons for a long time.  (She wasn’t the problem.  She is completely awesome.)  Together, we used her resources to put together curriculum for an upcoming workshop about how to hire the right people.  Sierra Commons is really excited about offering this class and I left the meeting with real motivation to promote a workshop that I know is going to be a huge help to local businesses.

I have a system for promoting the classes at Sierra Commons and it is mostly a by-the-book approach to social media marketing.  I usually start by adding the workshop to our calendar and then I add the workshop to our business page on Facebook.

When I add workshops and events to our business page on Facebook, I usually search for a stock photo on the internet, or some other picture licensed under a commons license, in order to promote the event. (For those who aren’t familiar with web promotion, stock photos are available at a minimal price and photos licensed under a commons license are available to the general public.  It’s good to find a photo that can be the icon for the event as you promote it and it is also important that the photo you use matches the values of the organization or business.)  As a non-profit organization, we offer free and low-cost classes. It isn’t always within our budget to hire designers to create new icons or photos for every class we offer.

I went to look for a photo that would match the mission to “hire the right person.”

Nevada County isn’t exactly known for its racial diversity.  As of the last census, we were the second whitest county in California, just after our northern neighbor, Sierra County.  Interestingly, for being the whitest counties in California, neither Sierra County nor Nevada County have a particular propensity towards racism.  That’s not to say that racism doesn’t exist.  Racism exists everywhere.  But for counties lacking diversity, the awareness and the intention for inclusion is an undercurrent of the culture.  Speaking for Nevada County, many people and local organizations make consorted efforts to include people of color and other minorities in both business and organizational strategies.

Ruth Schwartz, the teacher for our upcoming workshop, and I had a long conversation about preconceived ideas about “hiring the right person.”  We talked a lot about pitfalls. We talked about inappropriate referrals.  We talked about how many local businesses hire their friends.  We talked about the fact that many local businesses don’t list job postings, they just ask for resumes through word-of-mouth.  We talked about how to honor resumes and how to sort through them.  We even talked about discrimination and how our prejudices can have an adverse effect on the hiring process.

I was so excited when I left our meeting.  I know that our upcoming workshop is going to be amazing and I know that our local business community is going to benefit from the material.

Here’s the problem I wasn’t anticipating: when I went to look for an appropriate picture to promote an event about “hiring the right person” it took me nearly two hours to find a mildly appropriate photo to promote the event, a photo that mirrored our values about the workshop.

Nearly every photo about “hiring the right person” contained the exact same group of people: young, fit, white men. Photo after photo portrayed young white men.  Pages upon pages.  Groups of young white men getting the job.

Then, most of the photos that tried to diversify, contained young, fit, white men and then one young, pretty, white woman in high-heels, a skirt, and low-cut blouse.  There were a small handful of photos that had a white-skinned Eastern Asian person, still 20-something and good-looking.  There were less photos that had a tan-skinned Indian or Pacific Asian person, usually in the background.  With the exception of a single photo that contained a group of entirely black young people high-fiving each other, there was no pictorial representation of diverse job-seekers that I could find.

I could not find a photo that contained a diverse group of hireable people that appeared to be equally qualified for a job. Today’s qualified job seekers might be not-white, not-male, not fit, and not under 40.  Those possibilities, and being open to those possibilities, are an asset to anyone hiring someone new.

I finally settled on a picture of a white woman’s left hand with no wedding ring using a magnifying glass to examine non-racially-descript, gray-scale icons of men and women.  It was a compromise.hiring the right people sq

yelp300The people of Nevada County, and all small towns, need to start using Yelp.

I love that the people of Nevada County would rather ask a neighbor or browse a local forum for a restaurant recommendation before consulting a website or an app for dining advice. It shows that we have small-town pride, and that we are willing to support our small businesses on a peer-to-peer level. I have enjoyed many nights out based on friends’ recommendations.

With that said, the people of Nevada County really need to start using the mobile app, “Yelp,” on a regular basis to rate local businesses, with accolades, and to make our voices heard about our incredible Nevada County small businesses.

For those who aren’t familiar, Yelp is a mobile app that allows people to review businesses. Yelp uses GPS tracking to ensure that people who wish to make a review have actually been close enough to a business to review it. Many business owners and community members complain about Yelp because they feel like Yelp doesn’t accurately depict the merit of many of the places listed. It’s a fine line to walk. But Yelp is a crowd-sourced website so the crowd makes the call.

I’m imploring our community members to take a more attentive approach to the online health and the online reputations of our local businesses. Apps like Yelp can make a huge difference in our community. When we forego using apps like Yelp, (and other popular apps that are used all over the United States by millions of people), we allow tourists to tell the story about Nevada County and our small businesses.

I’m asking everyone who reads this article to: Check into Yelp for all of our local businesses and post an accurate review.

Many of us are comfortable getting restaurant reviews from our friends, neighbors, and coworkers. That exchange doesn’t have to stop. Our willingness to listen to local recommendations is an asset to local business. But we can’t let outsiders continue to write the conversation about our local stores and restaurants. Using apps like Yelp heeds accurate and friendly community input. We have a local responsibility to stick up for the small businesses we love. All of our local community members should be participating in the online conversation.

Write a Yelp review today.

 

What is a Coworking Space?

As one of the world’s few rural coworking offices, we get this question a lot.  It is rare to find a coworking space in a town with a population of just over 3,000 people.  Most coworking spaces are found in large cities.  Coworking in San Francisco and coworking in New York City is quite popular.  Coworking in Nevada County is something some folks might not expect.

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A coworking space or, coworking facility, is a brick-and-mortar office space where people come together to work, exchange ideas, and share in a regular professional social environment. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization.  A coworking space offers a common roof for people who want to work with others but who are working as individuals or small groups.

Coworking is a legitimate business model used all over the world to provide structure and resources to independent working professionals. The model is attractive to work-at-home professionals, remote workers, freelancers, and independent contractors. At Sierra Commons we have many members who do off-site or field work such as farming, well-inspection, web design, and real estate appraising, but who need an office in order to complete administrative tasks such as accounting, recordkeeping, marketing, and web management. We have twelve Resident Members at Sierra Commons and over twenty Nomadic members.

Our members’ employment varies widely. Currently at Sierra Commons we have software engineers, IT directors, a travel agent, a real estate agent, copy editors, freelance writers, farmers, a lobbyist and more. Some of our members are self-employed and some of them work remotely for companies located in other cities throughout the world.

With membership, all of our members enjoy a desk rental and use of our facility which includes high-speed internet, printing-faxing-scanning capabilities, and utilities. We have private conference rooms for consultants and coworkers to meet with clients. We provide all of the overhead of a professional business environment for our members, including coffee, paper, lighting, and supplies like pens, staples and toilet paper. Membership is open to the public and available to those seeking office space. For our services, we charge a monthly fee.

Membership costs at Sierra Commons are divided into two categories: Resident Member and Nomadic Member and we also have drop-in rates.  Resident members are people who are typically working 40+ hours each week and who have a designated desk space at Sierra Commons where they can keep their computers and other office equipment as needed at their own workstation. Resident members have their own key code and can access the building 24/7. Nomadic members are those who come and go, usually bringing in their own laptop when they come in. Nomadic members have access to the building during open business hours, Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm. All members can schedule time in our conference rooms as needed and they may use Sierra Commons as their office/business address.

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Coworking offers people a community while working in a professional situation that may be individual, remote, and/or sometimes isolating.  As Nevada County’s coworking space, Sierra Commons is dedicated to the health of our economy while maintaining a sense of community.  If you are interested in coworking, please feel free to contact us.