Category: Marketing

I had a problem at work today that surprised me.

hiring the right people square

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.


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.

There are no good jobs in Nevada County!” How often have you heard this?

At Sierra Commons, we hear this comment a lot. Members of the skilled and/or educated work force in Nevada County have found that it is easy to become frustrated with the lack of employment opportunities in our community. Many of the locally available jobs are in the service or tourist industry and don’t use trade skills, advanced skills and/or a college education. Some folks have started to diversify their scope of work to make extra money. Some people have taken on two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Frustrated by unfulfilling jobs, many people are turning to freelancing and contract work, as well as entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. For many people frustrated with the local economy, Sierra Commons is a beacon of hope. Sierra Commons creates good jobs in Nevada County and we keep good employees local.


Sierra Commons is probably best known for its “coworking facility,” an office space where people come together to work, exchange ideas and share in a regular professional social environment. Wikipedia offers a great definition of coworking: “It is style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. Coworking is also the social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with like-minded talented people in the same space.” Sierra Commons’ office space and education center is located at 792 A Searls Ave in Nevada City. We offer desk rental and day use, which includes high-speed internet and utilities. We have 20-30 regular members throughout the year and have regular visitors who drop in on a daily basis to our facility to take advantage of our office setting in order to work on a project or meet a looming deadline. We love the energy that both our members and visitors bring to our coworking facility.

In addition to offering a professional work environment for members and visitors, we are also a 501(c)(3) non-profit education center and business incubator. We offer continuing education to the public and to business professionals through classes and workshops. We offer confidential mentoring for sole-proprietors, managers, owners, employees and entrepreneurs who may be struggling with taking their skills or business to the next level, or who simply may need some guidance about a frustrating situation at work or a brush-up on business basics. Our goal is to ensure the local economic health of our community by offering education and support.

Our signature course is our Business Ignitor, a set of business incubator classes that takes entrepreneurs through the steps of creating and sustaining a healthy business, while helping established business owners to take an active role in their business’ stability and momentum. We help people get their businesses out of their garages and on to Main Street. We help people turn the hobbies that they love in to the careers they enjoy. We help people to stay in the careers they want to have and help entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.


Sierra Commons was founded in Nevada County five years ago, during the heart of an economic recession. What emerged was a community icon for a thoughtful and strong local economy. We want to emphasize that Sierra Commons creates good jobs. We create jobs in Nevada County that people want to have, jobs that people are passionate about. It is one thing for someone to do a mechanical job with no real connection to their employment. It is far better to have an employment opportunity where the people involved in a business feel a passion for what they are doing. As Charles Eisenstein writes in his book, Sacred Economics, “Once work has become mechanical, it is in a sense too late — inhuman work might as well be done by machines.” It is not enough to simply create jobs. We must create good jobs that people want to do. Sierra Commons knows how to create good jobs.

front view

By providing a campus where people can come together, share ideas and get involved in a professional environment, with mentoring and professional services, ongoing education, and incubator classes, Sierra Commons is a pinnacle of economic development in Nevada County. We provide a space for employees who want to live in Nevada County but who work remotely. We provide a professional setting for freelancers, contractors and professionals who need a place to work. Sierra Commons helps start-ups and individual business people to have a space where the utilities and overhead costs are a part of a package deal, cutting down on initial cost of starting a business and allowing for businesses to be more successful in the introduction phases of doing business. Sierra Commons provides the tools for people hoping to start their own successful business. We provide an education center for all levels of business in Nevada County. Sierra Commons is not a typical entrepreneurial resource; we are a collaborative, community-focused economic program and we have a passionate commitment to see Nevada County thrive.

What: Grow your Business Through Blogging and other Social Media outlets
Who: Coryon Redd and Erin Thiem
When: Wednesday, January 15th, 6:30-8pm
Cost: $25
Presented by Coryon Redd/Internet Marketing Guru and Erin Thiem, InnSide Nevada City Blogger

blogimageA blog is a comprehensive medium that provides detailed information about your business, services and products and Business Blogging is fast becoming a vital part of any online strategy. When utilized effectively, a blog can be a valuable asset for your company. Erin & Coryon will give you some tips and ideas for launching your own blogging site so you can increase your community presence and customer base.

If you haven’t visited Erin’s fabulous blog, check it out!  Or check our for Coryon’s tips and advice on internet marketing.



How to Use Pinterest for Business & Marketing

If you're not Pinteresting, you’re losing business

Presented by Coryon Redd, Nevada County Online and

Saturday, January 26th, 1-3pm

Pinterest connects people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests with millions of new pins added every week. Join marketing guru Coryon Redd as he takes you through the steps to set up a Pinterest account so you can tap into this share of the marketplace and grow your business.

Who should take this class?

You have a storefront or online site that sells products or crafts (Etsy, Nevada County Makes, etc.)

You offer design or consumer services;

You have a tourism-related business;

You're part of the food industry;

You have a blog and want more followers;

You have a Facebook page for your business and want to maximize interest or sales.

You do ANY social marketing for your business.

In this fun and informative two-hour class Coryon will teach you how to:

  • Pinterest basics
  • How it works and how to get started
  • Create a business profile
  • Browse feed to see what’s trending & tap into trends
  • Collaborate with other pinners
  • Promote your pins and send traffic to your website
  • Show off your interests, your expertise and your content
  • Use widgets, apps and button
  • Find users, boards and content to participate and collaborate
  • Connect Pinterest to Facebook and other social media

If you want to drive people to your site and sell more products and/or services, you can’t afford to miss this class.

Cost: $30 Non-Member, $27 SC Member

Save! You can also register through mail or in person, with no additional registration fee if paying by check, money order or cash. 792 Searls Ave., Nevada City, CA 95959




One Month Free

If you are a service provider or own a business in Nevada County and would like to become a member of Nevada County Does and be a part of this growing community, email: and use the phrase "NCD Free Month" in the subject line.  Visit Nevada County Does to learn more about Nevada County Does.

See what Nevada County Does!

Looking for an accountant, or an acrobat, a yoga instructor or a zymurgist? Maybe you're looking for a dependable, gifted landscaper or a skilled and creative nail technician?

Why not look next door?

Nevada County has some amazing residents. Nevada County Does is a community for those of us who have skills and training to provide as a service to others. Here you will find profiles for some of the best in their field anywhere.

Actionplanr Launch Party!

A few years ago we had a VISION to impact and empower individuals who dared to turn their dreams, goals, and ideas into reality.

Our VISION was bold and simple….build a POWERFUL software productivity planning tool and make it really EASY for people to use.

That VISION has become a REALITY!

Please come join us to CELEBRATE the launch of!

When: Tuesday October 16th 2012

Time: 5:00 to 7:00 pm

Where: Sierra Commons (Stone House Bldg) 107 Sacramento St. Suite 300 Nevada City, CA 95959

RSVP: (only if you are coming)

Look forward to seeing you there!

Brenda Horton

P.S. Become an Actionplanr Beta Tester right here!


YourBiz Blueprint

A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity

You have knowledge and expertise. There is a world-wide audience that wants it. The challenge is connecting your brain to those people, right?

Sierra Commons is proud to present a fun, intimate, and experiential 8-week class called YourBiz Blueprint.

This class is led by 4-time world juggling champion Barry Friedman.

Over the past 4 years Barry has taken his knowledge and expertise about booking his show for high-paying clients around the world and created two very profitable online membership sites.

Barry says, "If I can do it for clowns, jugglers, ventriloquists, and magicians, you can do it in your field of expertise – guaranteed!"

barry video

During the class, which begins on October 22nd and runs for 8 Monday nights, you'll go 'under the hood' of his programs and see how he:

  • builds a list of eager prospects
  • creates a relationship that is based on service
  • delivers value before they've ever spent a dime
  • creates his course (it's 52-weeks long,100% automated, and highly-respected)
  • created a higher priced group coaching program that has sold-out 3 times in a row and is now an automated product he sells
  • And so many steps in between

There is more guidance and hand-holding in this course that anything we have ever offered and it's a one-time opportunity. He's testing this program here at Sierra Commons before taking it online at 4-times the prices of this live offering.

This class will not be a bunch of theory! It will be 100% based on application as he''ll use his real-life sites as the teaching material.

What you should have:

  • Expertise in some field of interest that isn't so obscure you're alone in your love for it

  • A passion to serve a world-wide audience that is hungry for knowledge

  • A fearless attitude towards creating and delivering your knowledge (you'll learn how – just don't be meek!)

  • Some understanding of technology (web browsers, own a computer with a microphone, maybe know someone with a video camera, etc)

  • An open mind about one day being considered a leader in your field. It happened to Barry and he warns that it could happen to you!

In addition to the Monday night class there will be a Friday "Open House" where Barry will hold Q&A, case studies, work with your project as a demo for the class, and show you how to focus your message.
You can see Barry in action, talking about this program at Put in your name and email and you'll get all 3 videos. This will give you some insight as to what you can expect from this very special, live class.
Class size is limited to 15-students and he will personally interview each applicant before they are accepted.

Want more info?  Check out this detailed Life Legacy Project interview.

Tuition: $497

Application deadline: October 10th

Please complete all questions below

Registration Closed



1. Write One Sentence

Time: 1 minute  Cost: $0  Outcome: Awareness

Help us help Nevada County. Tell your community why you think Sierra Commons is important to you and our local economy.  Please use the comments section below.

2. Come to Nevada City City Council Meeting Tonight

Time: 60 minutes  Cost: $0  Outcome: Civic Engagement

Tonight the Nevada City Council will consider a proposal to locate Sierra Commons' education, business incubation and co-working programs to the Nevada City Veterans' Building.

Working with the local VFW, we have identified the Veterans' Building as a great, but underutilized, public asset. Our plan (pt1 pages 16-24, pt 2), while still only an outline, is one that we think will benefit the whole community. It will improve Sierra Commons' ability to help local residents create economic opportunities for themselves, while respecting veterans' use of the building and its role as a useful community space.

Location: Nevada City City Hall
Time: Meeting starts at 6:30pm.  7:30pm is a safe time to show up.

3. Set a Lunch Date

Time: 75 minutes  Cost: $10 suggested donation   Outcome: Business education and networking

Sierra Commons Lunch & Learn series includes a presentation or roundtable discussion by some of our area’s leading business professionals.  Events are held each Tuesday from 12-1:15 in the Sierra Commons conference room.  Our next session is October 2nd? and is hosted by Pamela Biery.  Pamela will cover marketing strategies that pull together your web, PR and social media marketing.

4. Make a Financial Donation

Time: 3 minutes  Cost: $1-$1B  Outcome: A more resilient local economy

Make your tax-deductible donations now and help Sierra Commons help our local economy.  

Visit us online and click on the "Donate" button on the top right of our site.

5. Set your Passions into Action

Time: 5 minutes to register  Cost: Starting at $25  Outcome: Gaining tools to follow your passion

Sierra Commons is a proud sponsor of the upcoming Passion Into Action conference  Friday – Sunday October 12-14, 2012.

In serving as a platform for the voices of women in a variety of disciplines, the Passion into Action Conference™ (PIA) creates a space for women to meet, network, and explore ideas.  Attendees are inspired to identify their passion, support a passion, collaborate, network and more. Most importantly PIA provides tools and avenues to help shift concepts & ideas into action.

6. Get Ignited

Time: 5 minutes to register  Cost: $350 (a $1,500 value)  Outcome: Becoming an inspired local business owner

Starting October 24, 2012, Sierra Commons will present a six-week course to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams and launch a business.  More than a business plan workshop, this intensive course brings together a group of motivated entrepreneurs, and guides them through the steps needed to launch a business.

Register here

7. Support Local Business

Time: 20 minutes  Cost: $-$$$  Outcome: A stronger local economy

One of the greatest things an individual can do to support his or her local community is to patronize its locally owned businesses. Compared to their national competitors, local independent businesses recycle more money back into the local economy and give greater support to a community’s nonprofit and civic needs. They are better positioned to respond to the special needs of the community, and they are more tied to the community’s future. Additionally, unlike a homogenized Anyplace, USA, a community with vibrant independent businesses retains its unique character as a great place to live and visit.

Get going now with this handy list of local businesses Sierra Commons has helped launch.

8.  Jazz Yourself Up

Time: 5 minutes to register  Cost: $497  Outcome: Becoming an inspired local business owner

Think about how you can blend your inspiration, skills, and entrepreneurial aspirations.   Then write down the top three ideas you come up with.  Now narrow the list down to one amazing idea.  Then take one step TODAY to move forward.

Optional: Consider registering for our newest class offering YourBiz Blueprint.  We will help you create a web presence that allows you to earn a great living while following your passion.


Congratulations.  The actions you are taking now are making Nevada County a better place to live.

If you have other simple ways people can help our local economy, we want to hear from you.  Please post your comments below.