Category: local business

First day of class: March 16th, 2017

Proposal due: March 10th, 2017


Please submit (in PDF format) a cover letter and an outline of your business plan or proposal and why you think you should be awarded a scholarship.

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.

Submit documents to:

This scholarship is open.  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.

Scholarships will be awarded based on availability. Scholarship amounts may vary based on need.

Class is held on Thursdays 6pm-9pm for 8 weeks. All scholarship recipients are required to attend every class session. If a scholarship recipient misses a class session, they will be required to make the session up or pay back the scholarship.

In the Sierra Foothills, the neighboring towns of Nevada City and Grass Valley are among the best places to visit in California for a Halloween getaway. Just a few miles apart from one another, the fall colors in both towns are breath-taking. But, perhaps better than the fall colors, is the wide-variety of sweet treats for a mature audience.

There is wine tasting and a wide variety of micro breweries Nevada City and Grass Valley.  There are also a handful of dive bars to explore.  While the dining in both towns is wonderful, the dessert is amazing. This Halloween, skip dinner and go on a search instead for candy, cakes, and ice cream.

To start, try The Chocolate Shoppe on Broad Street in Nevada City. They have a Port Wine Truffle that melts with slow decadence. For something more whimsical try a classic caramel apple or a candy-covered apple.

Trick or Treat Nevada City

Next, visit Three Forks Bakery and Brewery for your choice of sweet or savory. This incredible restaurant is a local favorite and no one can decide which is better, the beer or the baked goods.  The menu is based on local availability and in-season produce so you never know what you are going to get.


After lunch, perhaps you’ll want to head to Grass Valley to go antiquing or wander the art galleries. While in Grass Valley, stop by Fable for a cup of coffee or Lazy Dog Chocolateria for some chocolate covered espresso beans.


Whatever you decide, a visit to Nevada County is always a sweet time.

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.


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.

There are a lot of people out there these days marketing themselves as business coaches and charging a lot of money for their support services.  You do not have to attend the first workshop that comes along and you do not have to hire the first coach you meet.  You don’t have to use your friend’s recommendation either.  There is no shortage of coaches and coaching events.

Business Coach

Making the decision to hire someone is important.  It is an investment of your time and money.  Take the time to find the right fit.  Here are some tips:

  1. Find someone you trust. Ideally, find someone in your network who has a good reputation. There are a few certifications for business coaching but it is a fairly unregulated business.  Almost anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a “business coach” or “life coach.” Do your research. Do not hire anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
  2. Identify exactly what you want to gain from having a business coach before hiring one. If you do not have a specific focus or goal in mind, you will likely spend far more time and money than you need to trying to reach an end game.
  3. Read at least one classic business self-help book before spending a lot of money on a coach you may not need. There is a lot of great advice out there.  What you are looking for may already be written down somewhere.
  4. Find someone to be accountable to (besides yourself) before hiring a coach. A lot of folks find that the biggest benefit to having a business coach is having someone to be accountable to. Most of us procrastinate and most of us set goals and timelines and then set them aside.  Team up with a friend, coworker, or colleague and create a structured system for setting goals and checking in.
  5. Be ready to commit fully. Do not hire a coach only to miss appointments and ignore your coach’s advice.  Like most things in life, you will get out of it, what you put into it.  Be ready to dive in, take direction, and stick with it.

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.


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 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:

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.

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.

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.


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 or call 530-265-8443.

We are worth it.  Please give to Sierra Commons.


Donating at the end of the calendar year is an American tradition.  Sierra Commons, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization is helping folks in Nevada county start their own businesses and is helping to keep those businesses going.   We offer mentoring, and when the recession hit Nevada County hard, we were helping folks stay in business so that they could stay in the county and continue the tradition of giving.

We are asking for your generous donation so that we can continue to support the creative class and the small business community in Nevada County.  Our experienced business advisors volunteer their time to help businesses get started through its signature Ignitor Course, now in its 5th year. In addition, Sierra Commons helps businesses with mentoring and business advice. Our coworking facility in Nevada City has created a small business community for individuals to benefit from cross learning and sharing of advice in a supportive environmen.
Sierra Commons is an independently run non-profit organization. We do not receive any government or county funding.  We are the only business education center in Western Nevada County dedicated to serving Nevada County exclusively.  We rely upon minimal fees for services and we need your support and donations.

Please consider donating to Sierra Commons as part of your annual giving. Our community is strengthened when we can provide an opportunity for individuals to stay here in Nevada County and start and grow their business instead of leaving the area to find work. Many of the businesses started at Sierra Commons have taken advantage of the Internet to reach out to all parts of the USA and the world for sales, bringing those earnings back here to Nevada County and helping the local economy.

All of Sierra Commons- the board, the sudents, the members, the faculty and the staff.