Cookies, cakes, fruits, nuts, jams, jellies, crackers, chips, pancakes, sauces, meats, seafood, mushrooms, organic, local, homemade – is your mouth watering yet? These are just a few of what we know as specialty food items – those delectable tidbits we fill up our grocery cart with or send to friends and family on special occasions.
Over the years my work has taken me to many conferences and gatherings around the world that celebrate the achievements of women and their organizations. Woman are often in the forefront of social innovation tackling societal problems in creative ways using science, technology and the arts. Think of organizations like Woman to Women International,Girls Who Code or The Malala Fund; all global organizations conceived by women who saw a corner of the world that was in dire need of help.
When Mendocino County native Sheilah Rogers went off to graduate school at the prestigious School for International Development in Vermont she had no idea pursuing her love for international initiatives would bring her right back home.
There are 35.8 million active buyers on the Etsy online marketplace, 67% of them shopping from their phone and 81% are repeat customers. With $2.84 billion in sales clocked in by their vendors, if you have a product to sell, it’s time to get on Etsy.
Most entrepreneurs start their business fueled by a passion, after they identify a need in the market, or simply go out on their own after working for a company for many years. Entrepreneurs are a special breed, combining creativity, drive and a lot of hard work in order to see their dreams come true. Often, even with the best business idea, solid financials and a thriving customer base, true profit year over year can be elusive.
Sean Dewil grew up in South Africa going on safari with his parents, who ran a safari tour company in Zimbabwe. Dewil’s career over the years includes everything from becoming a qualified safari guide to working for two years in Kruger National Park in South Africa, collecting behavioral data on the African Wild Dog.
Mendocino County is home to some of the best food in the country – local fish, farms and delicacies abound. With a growing demand for restaurants and fresh foods sourced locally, West Business Development Center has launched a full food business curriculum called Food For Thought, to serve entrepreneurs looking to get in the food game.
One of the top things I hear from the hundreds of businesses we work with every year in Mendocino County, is about “going digital”. Clients ask us everyday, “How do I even start?” or “I want to learn digital but I don’t have time”. As a person who had her own small graphic design business back when I used a ruler, drafting table and a telephone, I know how daunting dipping a toe in the digital world can be.
Running a non-profit has never been an easy job, driven by a mission, dictated by a Board, and more often than not scrambling to pay the bills each month. In a rural economy, non-profits often fill the necessary gaps in social services when local governments and private enterprise cannot. In Mendocino County there are more than 600 non-profits serving a county of 89,000 people.
West Company has been a Mendocino fixture, providing business advice, for more than thirty years. We started in the 1980’s as a place for women to learn job skills and start their own businesses, and we were one of the very first federally funded Women’s Business Centers in the U.S.
Our first workshop this year on food service in our Food for Thought series, is Thursday, February 21st in Ukiah. Julia Siderakis, former owner of Ukiah’s beloved Garden Café and instructor at Mendocino College, and Steve O’Mara, entrepreneurial expert, will teach you all the basics you need for getting up and running in your culinary business.
If you’ve had a brick and mortar business, or are thinking of starting an online business, this is the workshop for you.
Join Veronika Monell, the CEO of JumpStartNOW in Fort Bragg or Willits, February 13th or 14th or 15th to learn everything you need to know about going online. This dynamic workshop will cover why eCommerce is a huge opportunity to increase your profits, what to consider before you start, how to identify customers and creating your online marketing strategy.
Living in Mendocino County most of us are familiar with basic earthquake and fire safety, but preparing your business is entirely different proposition. Advance planning for disasters is a way to safeguard the years of work and love you’ve put into your business, and protect both your people and your assets. plan.
We’re celebrating the new year by offering a whole new slate of exciting workshops this year on everything from how to use Instagram to turning your passion into profit. We’ll also be partnering with Visit Mendocino for a workshop series on Hospitality in the Digital Age and, offering a full program of workshops on Culinary Entrepreneurship called Food For Thought and more.
Our local paper is getting the word out about our name change:
[CEO Mary Anne] Petrillo says that now is a very exciting time for small business. “Technology is allowing entrepreneurs to live where they want and still access global markets.” With the new name, new website and expansion of services, she hopes to send the message that WBDC is moving with the times. She says, “We’re still here. Changing, growing and making a difference. We are in a new economy and even established small business owners are facing new challenges every day.
West Business Development Center (formerly West Company) announced today that it has received a grant of $50,000 from Wells Fargo to help small businesses in Mendocino and Lake Counties that are suffering from the impact of recent fires in the region. The funds will allow West Business Development Center to create a natural disaster preparedness toolkit for small businesses. The toolkit will include a workbook, videos and workshop curriculum designed to help get businesses back up and running after a disaster strikes.
You know them as West Company and if you don’t, now is a good time to learn about this dedicated organization. After thirty years of providing free services and support to small business owners in Mendocino County, the non-profit organization is changing their name to West Business Development Center (WBDC).
Like so many other places, California has experienced historic natural disasters in the past few years. Rachel Clark discusses the important steps you need to take to safeguard your business in case a catastrophic event affects you. Her article “Are You Prepared For A Natural Disaster?” is important advice for all business owners for, as she points out, “emergencies happen, things don’t go as planned and life changes on a dime." The sooner we accept that and take the necessary measures to protect the businesses we’ve worked so hard to build, the better off we will be when disaster strikes.
West Center is participating in the Back to Business Mendocino Roadshow. Come find out how to recover from unexpected business impacts or do business with federal and state agencies during this morning event, hosted collaboratively with the U.S. Small Business Administration, West Company, the Northern California Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and The Veteran's Business Outreach Center.
A large part of recovering from the fires our area has endured includes home reconstruction. In the Ukiah Daily Journal, Carole Brodsky examines a new program at Mendocino College designed to support people in creating their own construction business. The program will address the housing crisis and provide employment opportunities for skilled locals while keeping everyone compliant with building laws.
The Mendocino County business environment has changed a lot over the past decades, and West Company has changed with it. Learn about the inspired beginnings and enduring vision that gave West Company its start, as well as their ongoing work to support the local economy while honoring the unique nature of our community.
Real Estate Magazine takes a look at a number of entrepreneurs who grew up locally then sought life’s adventure elsewhere, only to return and set up shop in the very town they thought they’d left for good. From catering to fitness training, retail operations selling beauty products, books, and bacon, these young go-getters have come home to build businesses that sustain them and enrich the community they love.