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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.


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.


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.

Social media can be both an asset and an incredible liability for small businesses. More and more business people are turning to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to promote their business, to reach target customers, and to generate leads. It is important to adhere to certain guidelines in order to maintain your reputation—both online and off.


If you are a small business owner or an employee of a small business, your online reputation matters. The way that people see you online can greatly help or greatly hurt your business. What you post on Facebook matters. The information in your LinkedIn profile matters. The pictures you post to Instagram or Pinterest matter. The internet is a public forum and what you say and do there matters. Your online social media profiles are a reflection of you and therefore a reflection of your business.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate the world of online media and maintain your reputation as someone who people want to do business with.


  1. There is no difference between what you post online and who you are in real life. Ten years ago, it was realistic to think that you could get away with having an online personality separate from your in-person existence. Today’s internet is completely public and completely traceable. Every post comes from somewhere. Almost all pictures posted on the internet have a GIS stamp indicating where the picture was taken. Even people with remedial computing skills can look up an IP address to track the location of a computer or review information to retrieve the location of where a picture was taken or uploaded. Online social media profiles, even using the strictest security options, are still easily found on all search engines just by looking up a name, business name, or email address. Think before you post. Even if you think that what you are saying is something you are sharing privately, or with only your friends, the internet makes it infinitely accessible to almost anyone. Anything you write down can be read. Words can be copied. Posts can be reposted. Emails can be forwarded. Content can be shared. When you are sharing something online, picture yourself standing on a chair in a crowded restaurant and shouting whatever you are saying, or holding up a giant poster of whatever picture you are uploading. If it’s not appropriate in a crowded restaurant, it’s not appropriate online. That’s the reality of today’s internet.


  1. You Will Be Googled. Having no online reputation is almost worse than having a bad online reputation. The early adopters of online media knew what they were doing. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have had web publication since 1996, a full decade before Facebook was available to the public. Both publications knew that having a presence online was an essential business move and both publications are still heralded among the most reputable news sources in the world today. The fact that all your content online can be read by anyone should be a point of caution but it shouldn’t be a point of fear or deterrence. For many small businesses, access to free online media marketing has been one of the greatest assets of the 21st century. When done correctly, online marketing and social media can boost sales and visibility for small businesses and, in many cases, create a successful platform for taking the business to the next level.


  1. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. This isn’t just a wise quote from Grandma. It is sound advice. Most people know that they shouldn’t post incriminating pictures of themselves online. It is equally important that what you say online generates a positive response from people. If you are small business owner, the head of an organization, an employee in a small company, the head of an affinity group, or some other public personality, don’t ever post anything negative online. Don’t say hateful things about your siblings, your parents, your exes, your neighbors, your bosses, your elected officials, anyone. Every time you post something negative online, you alienate a potential customer. It doesn’t matter if what you are saying is true. It doesn’t matter if most of your friends agree with you. Your quippy dig about your neighbor’s dog keeping you up at night just makes you look like a complainer. Saying something hateful about someone gives you the reputation of being an irritating or contemptable person. If you have to complain, complain about the weather or complain about Mondays. The weather and Mondays are the only two socially acceptable topics to complain about. If you feel compelled to provide commentary on a social issue or current event, make sure that your commentary is in line with your business plan. For example, if you own a gun shop, commenting about second amendment issues in a public forum makes sense. If you run a produce stand, your stance on gun rights isn’t likely to help you recruit new customers. Be nice. This rule applies to every person in every situation, with only two exceptions: Running for office and writing Yelp reviews. If you are running for office, go ahead and say all the awful things you want. If you are writing a one-star Yelp review about the terrible service you received somewhere, be honest but use as much diplomacy as possible. What if the restaurant owner you are about to skewer is one of your customers?


  1. Create separate profiles for your personal posts and for your business posts and keep them separate. A business profile should be used for business only. For example, James Hobart’s Instagram account should be separate from the Instagram account promoting Hobart’s Antiques. Hobart’s Antiques should contain only posts about the store, antiques, and issues relating to the business. If James Hobart feels compelled to post pictures of a recent dinner party, those pictures should be posted to a personal account.


  1. Ask yourself, “Is it nice? Is it appropriate? Is it necessary?” Ask yourself these questions and, unless you answer yes to two out of three, don’t post. This is important for both your personal and business accounts. For example, a local business recently posted an article about predatory lending. The article wasn’t nice but it was appropriate and a necessary piece of information for local businesses. For another example, a local nursery recently posted several pictures of bees on flowers. It wasn’t necessary but it was appropriate and nice. If you follow these guidelines, you will improve your visibility, your reputation, and you’ll maintain the right focus.


  1. Clean Up Your Act. Take the time to review your online profiles and delete anything that doesn’t fit the n-a-n test. If there are unnecessary pictures or posts on your business pages, delete them. If there are negative comments in your personal profile that may tarnish your online reputation, delete them. Go through all of your online profiles with a fine tooth comb and delete anything that may become a stain on your reputation and your business.


Online marketing has incredible potential for all small businesses when executed appropriately and maintained properly. Use the internet to your advantage.   Make smart choices and watch your business grow.

On Friday, March 27th, Sierra Commons will host a free mixer and party to introduce their latest Business Ignitor graduates to the community. The Sierra Commons Business Ignitor program is Nevada County’s premier business incubation program. The program is a six-week course that helps start-ups and businesses learn about running and managing a business successfully. The event is open to the public and will be held at Sierra Commons, 792 A Searls Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959. It starts at 5:30pm and runs until 7:30pm. The graduation mixer and party is a way to introduce new businesses to the greater business community of Nevada County.

Ignitor 8

“The Ignitor Graduation is always a fun event and it’s a great way for people to connect,” says Hilary Hodge, Executive Director of Sierra Commons. “Many of our start-ups are looking for established businesses with resources to help get their new businesses off the ground. This event is a way for our students to introduce themselves and find those resources.”

This is the 8th Ignitor class to graduate from the Sierra Commons program. The program has a history of producing successful businesses. Past graduates include Nick Santos of Environmental Consumer and Shana Maziarz of Three Forks Bakery and Brewery. This current graduating class is very diverse and includes an enthusiastic group of entrepreneurs, writers, artists, managers, and business people.

“The Ignitor Course has helped me get a firm hold on the vision for my business and it has given me the tools that will make that vision a reality,” says Shelly Covert of Nevada City Rancheria. “The staff and mentors at Sierra Commons have an amazing wealth of knowledge and are very approachable. The experience has been priceless. I’d highly recommend this course to anyone who needs assistance entering the marketplace.” Shelly and her fellow graduates are looking forward to celebrating what they have learned and what they have accomplished. Feel free to join them on Friday at Sierra Commons.

The next Business Ignitor will be starting in June. For more information email info@sierracommons.org or call 530-265-8443.

SARTA, the Sacramento Regional Technological Alliance, along with Nevada County’s Business Ignitor, Sierra Commons, hosted a Clean Technology Mixer at the Nevada City Winery on Friday, March 20th, 2015.  The event brought people from all over Northern California, including experts from the Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.  The event speakers included Brandon Davis of local solar electric company, California Solar Electric; Michael Carroll, the CEO of HeliosAtlas, a regional authority on Hydropower Technology; and Dr. Richard Philpott, CEO of Burst Laboratories, a local visionary who is on the cutting edge of chemical-free water and waste treatment.  The event focused on green technologies that solve local and global environmental problems and energy problems.


Pictured from left to right:  Hilary Hodge (Sierra Commons), Brandon Davis (CA Solar),  Michael Carroll (HeliosAtlas), Amber Harris (SARTA) and Dr. Richard Philpott (Burst Laboratories).

Pictured from left to right: Hilary Hodge (Sierra Commons), Brandon Davis (CA Solar), Michael Carroll (HeliosAtlas), Amber Harris (SARTA) and Dr. Richard Philpott (Burst Laboratories).

“It was exciting to see so many tech companies at the event, many of whom expressed how grateful they were to connect with other companies and resources,” said Amber Harris, CleanStart Program Director for SARTA.  “SARTA is pleased to support economic growth in the Sierra Foothills region through hosting events such as this Clean Tech Mixer.”

The event combined major players from the Clean Tech industry with local experts in the field and was open to the public.  SARTA teamed up with local organization Sierra Commons in order to reach a broader audience and to get folks from other regions of California up to Nevada County to see what is happening in the foothills.

“I think this event really showed people that you don’t have to be in the Bay Area or Sacramento in order to have a successful, thriving business in the Clean Tech Industry,” said Brandon Davis of California Solar Electric.  “It was great to see people from other areas at the event.  It was good to make connections with others that are in Clean Tech.  Those connections will help us move the industry forward.”

SARTA and Sierra Commons plan to maintain their partnership and hopes to bring more events to our local region throughout the year.  For more information about Sierra Commons and/or upcoming events call Sierra Commons at 530-265-8443 or email info@sierracommons.org.

For more information about SARTA visit www.sarta.org.

Below is a list of upcoming events that Sierra Commons is either hosting or participating in.  For more information or to register, call 530-265-8443.



Nevada City Chamber Mixer

Thursday, March 19th 5:30-7:30pm

Nevada City Elks Lodge

518 Highway 49, Nevada City, CA 95959



Clean Tech Mixer

Friday, March 20th 5:30pm-7:30pm

Nevada City Winery

321 Spring Street, Nevada City, CA 95959

$20  Appetizers provided


Crowd Funding Class

Tuesday, March 24th, 6pm-8pm

Sierra Commons

792 A Searls Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959



Ignitor Graduation Party and Mixer

Friday, March 27th, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Sierra Commons

792 A Searls Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959



Ladies Only Lunch and Learn

Tuesday, April 7th, 12pm-1:15pm

Sierra Commons

792 A Searls Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959



Lunch and Learn

Tuesday, April 14th 12pm-1:15pm

Sierra Commons

792 A Searls Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959


Sierra Commons, along with their sponsors, will be putting on the community’s most exciting Oscar® pre-party.  The party starts at 3pm on February 22nd and will include red carpet interviews hosted by KNCO, limousine rides from the parking lot to the front door, a paparazzi entourage, along with appetizers and a silent auction benefiting Sierra Commons.  The party and fundraiser will run from 3pm-5:30pm and a live broadcast of the Academy Awards® will follow at the same location.

Tickets for the Pre-Party and Limo rides can be purchased by going into Sierra Commons at 792 Searls Ave in Nevada City or on the web at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/oscar-night-pre-party-tickets-15632112068


For for information call Sierra Commons at: 530-265-8443 or email: info@sierracommons.org

Sierra Commons is working with the City of Nevada City to implement a Community Development Block Grant.  You may qualify for grants or loans.
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In addition to offering our signature Ignitor Classes, Sierra Commons is working with The City of Nevada City to help implement a Community Development Block Grant. Classes are available for qualifying sole proprietors and small business owners who are hoping to be eligible for grant money and/or business loans through the City of Nevada City. You must complete the classes in order to qualify for the grants or loans. The money can be used for furniture, fixtures, inventory, equipment and more! The classes are designed to make participants ready for the application process to obtain the grants and loans. Some restrictions apply. For more information call SierraCommons at (530) 265-8443.


A Message from the Executive Director

I like resolutions but I think that they should be made more than once per year.  I believe in consistency and renewal.  Life isn’t easy.  Even the best laid plans can be thrown off course.  That’s why I value the Sierra Commons community.


Sierra Commons offers a consistency in a world full of ups and downs.  Sierra Commons is group of people who care about each other and who support each other.  Some of us are freelancers.  Some of us are remote workers employed by companies who let us stay in the community we love.  Some of us are just starting out, trying new ideas, establishing effective businesses that we are passionate about.  Where ever you are at in your creative and/or professional life, there is a place for you at Sierra Commons.

Maybe you’d like to take a few classes.  Maybe you’d like to teach a few classes.  Maybe you just need a nice place to work away from home.   Maybe you’ve hit a wall in your professional life and you’d like some advice. Maybe your power went out and you need reliable high-speed internet and a hot cup of coffee for the day. Sierra Commons has got you covered.

Whatever you’ve resolved to do this year, check out Sierra Commons.  We can probably help.  If you are seeking balance, Sierra Commons can provide a great work-life balance by giving you a place to focus.  If you want to learn a new skill, check out our class schedule.  Even if you are trying to have a healthier, fitter lifestyle, the Sierra Commons office is conveniently located right down the street from the South Yuba Athletic Club, Fit Culture, and Wild Mountain Yoga in Nevada City.

Whatever you do in 2015, get the support you deserve.  Make Sierra Commons a part of your life.  We’re here for our community.

All contest entries made to Sierra Commons via social media in response to the January 2015 library display, are included in the drawings. The drawings are open to U.S. citizens residing in the 50 states of the U.S. or District of Columbia. Entrants must be 18 or older or have a designated guardian to claim the prize. All current Sustaining Members of Sierra Commons are automatically included. This contest is sponsored by Sierra Commons. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply. Void wherever prohibited or restricted by law. Taxes are the responsibility of the winner(s). Winner(s) must complete a W9 form prior to claiming prize(s).

How to Enter 
No purchase or contribution is necessary. You may enter this contest by liking Sierra Commons on Facebook, by posting a picture of Sierra commons with the #sierracommons, by emailing info@sierracommons.org or be mail to Sierra Commons, 792A Searls Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959. Mail-in entries must include your full name, complete mailing address, phone number with area code, and an email address. No other method of entry will be accepted. Mail-in entries must be received no later than two days prior to the prize drawing. Contest begins January 2nd and ends on January 31st, 2015. All drawings will be held on February 4th.  Exact times and dates of drawings within that time period are subject to change. Limit two entries per person. Incomplete entries are void.

Selection of Winner(s) 
Winner(s) will be selected in a random drawing from among all eligible entries received by the deadline dates above. Prize drawing will be conducted by Sierra Commons. Winner(s) will be announced on our Facebook page. Winner(s) need not be present to win. Winner(s) may be notified electronically, by telephone and/or be email within 24 hours of drawing. Every reasonable attempt will be made to award the prize. If after every reasonable effort has been exerted (three (3) attempts over 30 days) to award the prize but the potential winner(s) cannot be reached after 30 days from first notification attempt, or the potential winner(s) has refused to accept the prize, or if entrant is found to be ineligible, or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, the prize will be forfeited and become the property of Sierra Commons.

Odds of Winning 
Odds of winning depend upon the number of eligible entries received. Entry constitutes permission (except where prohibited by law) to use winner(s)’ names, hometowns, and likenesses for publicity purposes without additional compensation. Winner(s) will be notified electronically, by telephone and/or e-mail.

Limit of Entry 
Limit two entries per person for the entire entry period. Multiple entries, if discovered, will be disqualified. By entering, entrants acknowledge compliance with these official rules including all eligibility requirements. Sierra Commons is not responsible for failures in technology such as but not limited to: technical malfunctions, lost/delayed data transmission, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, line failures of any telephone network, computer equipment, software, inability to access any website or online service, or any other error or malfunction, or late, lost, incorrect or inaccurate transcription of entry information, or for any human error, or misdirected entries. Entry materials that have been tampered with or altered are void. Proof of emailing and/or mailing does not constitute proof of delivery.

One drawing will be held. All prizes are non-transferable. Prize value varies based on prize. Prizes are not redeemable for cash. All taxes on the prizes, including but not limited to federal, state and local income and sales taxes, and any expense not covered herein (including but not limited to expenses related to the use of the prize) are the responsibility of the winners.