Posted on May 5, 2016 at 6:00 am
Working in the Communication Department at the Spokane County Library District, my team is often tasked with creating marketing materials for new and upcoming programs and services. So, it’s a bit of a treat when we are creating promotional materials for established services.
One of the projects we are currently working on is a brochure about our business-related resources and services. An advantage of creating marketing for an established service is having success stories and testimonials to use as examples. So we set out to gather testimonials and take photos of small business owners who have taken advantage of the business resources the Library District has to offer.
Our visits were inspirational—not only the great stories they shared describing how they came to start their businesses, but their enthusiasm and gratitude for the assistance they received from our business librarians and resources at the Library District. It is uplifting to hear how the programs and services we provide help people achieve their dreams.
Here is a glimpse at three enterprising individuals we met while working on the business brochure.
Cara Weipert, Manager of Women’s Business Center at SNAP
Cara Weipert was already familiar with the online business resources our libraries have to offer when she was the Business Development Specialist at SNAP. She had collaborated with the Library District business librarians on a grant to provide technology training to disadvantaged entrepreneurs in rural and low income areas. So when she was promoted to Manager of the Women’s Business Center, she tapped into the librarians to introduce these powerful resources to her clients, small business owners, and those considering starting businesses.
Just seconds into a conversation with Cara, she reveals her passion for her work and providing her clients with the best support available. She shares that over 90% of her clients use the Library District’s powerful resources and the expert assistance of our trained business librarians. Success stories of her clients starting businesses and thriving are posted along the walls of the center. She shares the story of one such client, Marcus Budig of Northwest Metal Works.
Marcus Budig, Owner/Artist, Northwest Metal Works
“The business education services are online, so it’s easy to get the training you want when you want it. . . . The Library is a tremendous resource for business owners of any size.” -Marcus Budig of Northwest Metal Works
Walking in from a bright sunlit day, my eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness of the brick warehouse that is home to Northwest Metal Works just off Main Street in Fairfield. Marcus led us on a tour, pointing out various projects, including a huge metal globe that will become a sign for a chickpea farm on the Palouse. He continued to talk about his metal works operation as he paused at a computer and typed in a few words. In response to his typing, a large metal plasma cutter sprang into action and in just minutes the demonstration produced a metal sign cut with my name.
Northwest Metal Works creates original art that is also functional. Signs, switch plates, lamps, towel rings, wall art—almost any design you can think of—Marcus can create it in metal.
Marcus was in the process of writing a business plan and organizing his business when he connected with business librarian Sheree West at the Library District. At their first meeting, Sheree introduced Marcus to the online resources that would help him reach his business objectives: Lynda.com for tips on website development and DemographicsNow and Data Axle Reference Solutions for research about potential customers. Marcus also attended an online selling class at the Library and connected with even more local business resources. Later he utilized Sheree’s skills as a researcher to find out about trade shows, craft fairs, and other venues for product sales. As we toured his shop, Marcus shared with me that running a one-person business can be a challenge and having free access to business resources helps give him an edge.
Joni Kindwall-Moore, Owner, Snacktivist Foods
“When I had very specific industry-related questions, Sheree helped me dig even deeper with research.” – Joni Kindwall-Moore, Snacktivist Foods
Sheree and another business librarian, Brian Vander Veen, were attending a recent Startup Weekend Spokane event where they met Joni Kindwall-Moore. Joni is the founder of Snacktivist Foods, a line of dry-mixes for people with food allergies and health-conscious foodies who crave high-quality, homemade food without the fuss. Muffin and brownie mixes, pizza dough, and focaccia bread—all of which are gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free—are part of the Snacktivist Foods’ line.
Delicious scents swirled around me as I opened the door to enter Snacktivist’s commercial kitchen and production facility. Joni was busy testing brownie and focaccia mixes, creating the yummy smells that instantly make your mouth water. She buzzed around the kitchen in high energy as she talked about small business challenges, her kids, various oven temperatures, packaging, and logos. For a small business startup like hers, the library resources are invaluable.
Sheree helped Joni by researching information for her business plan and showing Joni how to use several of the online business resources. Later, Joni’s business plan won the regional round of the Small Business Association’s InnovateHER Challenge grant competition and was sent to the national competition in Washington, D.C.
Sheree was happy to provide industry-specific market research to help Joni succeed, saying, “helping people find the knowledge they need is what my job is all about.”
If you are considering starting a small business or are already a small business owner who could use assistance with market research, business plans, and more, then the Library District can help. Stop by your local county library, give us a call, or meet one on one with a librarian through our Book a Librarian appointment webpage.