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, Amy and Jim presented their vision to the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs (SCAPE). Their hope was to develop SWD under the guidance of business mentors. They were soon selected by SCAPE to go through a business start-up program. As the program commenced, they worked closely with mentors who also were advisors for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

They contacted SBDC to further explore the potential of SWD. Their first contact was Mary Shepherd, whom the couple said was a huge help. Mary provided trademark and copyright resources while also connecting them with the SBDC marketing advisor. She presented an array of pertinent and useful information. Amy and Jim cited how she taught them ways to target the right people from the planning stage and as the business grows. She also shared the importance of time management and creating a work schedule. Burning out on one’s business can happen easily when working to exhaustion, and can also stifle creativity. She was also a sounding board for helping them choose the name ‘Southwest Discovered.’

Amy and Jim took full advantage of SBDC’s advisement and resources. They broadened their business acumen, having learned terms such as value propositions and financial projections, and were taught how to merge business vocabulary with the accumulated knowledge from their artist backgrounds. There were also in-depth discussions and evaluations with advisors in one-on-one settings. Amy and Jim came prepared with a load of questions and much use of dry erase boards. As visual people, drawing and writing concepts on the boards was a useful method to process and discuss appropriate business strategy.

Amy and Jim are genuinely grateful for all SBDC provided. They believe SBDC wanted them to be successful and for them obtain their dreams. They would not hesitate to reach out to SBDC again. For entrepreneurs looking to start their own business, Amy and Jim believe writing out a mission statement is essential. The mission statement defines who you are as a business and keeps you on target as to what you want to accomplish. Having that understanding makes it easier to communicate goals to business advisors. The Dodsons also suggested entrepreneurs write down ideas as they come to mind and ask a lot of questions. No question is too insignificant. Ideas can provide great value and efficiency. There is a mental letdown when a good idea is forgotten.

Cortez Cab

Ed Gilbert saw a niche that needed to be filled and filled it. The existing public transportation system in Cortez was very limited. There was no “on demand private system”, so he started one. He is now approaching his second busy season and the business keeps growing. Gilbert, who had never owned a business, took the Leading Edge for Entrepreneurs class twice – once in Cortez in the fall of 2011 and again in the

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Bountiful Ridge Farms

Rick Goodall is a second-generation farmer in Arriola, CO, whose family grew apples and raised livestock. He married Gerrie twenty-two years ago. That’s when Gerrie was first introduced to farming. While expecting their second child, Gerrie chose to stay at home to raise the children, but the tradeoff was the loss of a second income. Gerrie considered her options and decided to plant a garden. Her first harvest was plentiful, yet it yielded a tremendous

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Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses

Greg Parham was looking to purchase property and build a modest size home. A friend happened to email him a link about a tiny home story. Greg had never heard of tiny houses before, but upon reading it he realized, “I can do this. I have the skills to build my own tiny house.” Greg researched the project, learning everything he could on the subject, and realized that creating his own tiny house business was

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Native Roots Garden Center

By Malia Durbano John Wickman, owner of the independent garden center, Native Roots, has a degree in Horticulture, but not one in Business. That is why he approached Joe Keck of the SW Colorado SBDC for some advice on expanding his business. The Garden Center does Landscape Design and Installation with a large retail section for do-it-yourselfers. They grow all their own trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials through their subsidiary, Pine River Plants. Wickman, “Learned

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Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch

            Garry and Ming Adams created Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch, a luxurious boutique guest ranch, in Cortez.  When Garry purchased the land in the beautiful McElmo Canyon in 2006, the three dwellings on the property were uninhabitable.  Their goal was to stay true to the land’s western heritage and create a working guest ranch.  Guests would stay in comfortable remodeled houses, part take in the raising of livestock, be offered organically raised foods

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Ski and Bow Rack

Larry Fisher greeted every customer as if they were long-lost relatives. For thirty-three years he welcomed people in the Ski and Bow Rack—until late one night, Larry confronted an intruder, who shot and killed him in his shop. His daughter, Brittany Bedtke, who worked for Pagosa’s Emergency Medical Services, knew it was her father the moment the call came in. The loss of her father hit her like a train. But on top of that,

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