Rivendell Education Center

Arawyn Madu taught toddlers for nine years before deciding to open her own center. Three of those were at the Campbell Center at Fort Lewis College. She attended night school for seven years to accumulate the credits required to become a Director of an Early Childhood Education Center in the State of Colorado.

When she had the state requirements satisfied, she took the Leading Edge for Entrepreneurs Class, “to learn the business side,” she explains.

Her comprehensive and well-thought out Business Plan earned her Third Place among graduates who started the class in January of 2014. One of the most valuable skills she learned was how to budget. “Balancing income with expenses, saving for payroll taxes and understanding what it realistically costs to be in business were huge!”

Included in the equation was the need to shop around for locations to lease where the square foot price was affordable. Then, she determined what her monthly fee per student would be and how many she needed to cover overhead, salaries, etc. The class also emphasized the importance of hiring an agency to handle payroll, taxes, and file reports – something she finds invaluable. “It’s one less thing I have to worry about.”

The Market Research section of the course encouraged her to examine local competition and what they were charging. She gained a good perspective on what the market would bare and calculated a competitive price for the quality service she would offer. The research also confirmed that there was room in the market for another center offering services to children six weeks to 36 months.

Formulating a Mission Statement and business philosophy were integral in her success. “I knew what my heart wanted to do, but I had to look at the numbers to know if I could actually create my dream. I could have opened two years earlier but I took the class because I wanted to do it right so I would succeed.”

Arawyn marketed her new school through ads in the Herald and “a useful and interactive webpage and Facebook page. I posted flyers and told friends. This is really a word of mouth community,” she explains.
After graduation, she also met with advisor, Tom Holcomb who reviewed her budget and projections. “He found a glitch that could have been devastating if it had not been discovered. It was so helpful to have another set of eyes on the numbers.”

Rivendell Early Education Center has been open since August 3, 2015. Arawyn says “the most exciting part is getting to implement my ideas and policies and incorporate things I learned in nine years of teaching.”
The Center now employs four full-time and three part-time teachers and “runs smoothly.”

Alpine Medical

Tabitha Zappone loves the conveniences in Pagosa Springs and considers it a “big city with coffee shops and restaurants.” Before moving to Pagosa, she and her husband both worked in a hospital in rural Alaska, in the town of Bethel. He is an Emergency Room nurse and she is a Nurse Practitioner. The two served people from 57 villages. “They would come in on dogsleds, four wheelers or small airplanes. In the winter it would

Read More »
MUNIRevs

by Malia Durbano As the Finance Director for Mountain Village in Telluride, Erin Neer saw gaps in the government accounting system that she thought she could fix. “Technology in government systems hasn’t evolved as quickly as it had in the private sector,” she deduced. Neer believed she could provide these services best from the vantage point of an entrepreneur, so she started her own business, headquartered in Dolores, CO. As the previous owner of Anytime

Read More »
Southwest Discovered

Southwest Discovered (SWD) is a weekly blog/mini e-magazine founded by Amy and Jim Dodson. Their passion for the Southwest, along with a ‘forever tourist’ mindset was inspiration for the website. What began as a personal blog about the region’s cuisine evolved into a business. SWD would detail their road trips and experiences, highlighting their discovery of Southwest culture, people and landscapes through art and story. When they were transitioning away from the blog in 2015,

Read More »
Out West Saddlery

By Malia Durbano Out West Saddlery owner Terri Beecher knew advisor Rich Lindblad since they both live in Pagosa. She contacted him for some advice.While most businesses contact the SBDC for help with getting started or growing, Terri had a different problem. After several visits, Rich concluded that the business had great potential for growth. However, Terri explained what a hard time they had finding good help. She and her husband had built a wonderful,

Read More »
Mountain View TLC

By Malia Durbano Family Physician, Kirsten “Kicki” Searfus originally approached the SBDC to learn how to structure the partnership she was entering with Megan Lewis Grotefund. Instead, Megan moved away and on June 1, 2013, Kicki officially was in private practice. Having always been an employee at clinics or hospitals, she was wondering where to start in figuring out how to be an entrepreneur. Advisor Joe Bishop “was super helpful” in assisting her regarding the

Read More »
Wily Carrot

Kellie Pettyjohn is the proud owner and founder of The Wily Carrot, an organic farm located in Mancos, CO. She came to the lovely Mancos Valley in 2010 via Washington, D.C., to pursue an idyllic lifestyle, work with her hands in the outdoors and become her own boss. Kellie first got her hands dirty when she tended to two acres of vegetables on Dave Banga’s farm in Montezuma County. She interned with him for a

Read More »