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.

The Wine Merchant

By Malia Durbano Eric Allen and Lesley Ponce needed some expert advice as situations in their business changed. They were moving from their location next door to Nature’s Oasis to their current location, next to the VFW at 1514 Main Avenue in Durango. Ponce who had been employed by The Wine Merchant for 10 years, would become a partner after the move. Allen explains, “I had some questions about how to structure a lease. I

Read More »
Enterprise Bar & Grill

Have you heard the story about the entrepreneur who bought a business because she was looking for a job?  Seriously.  She bought a bar and grill in Rico, CO, with no previous business experience.  A year and a half into it she sought assistance from the Small Business Development Center.  This woman took a class designed for entrepreneurs, implemented the suggested practices, became business savvy, and now has a goal to buy the property her bar and grill operates

Read More »
Pura Vida

By Malia Durbano After four years in private practice, Naturopathic Doctor, Nicola St. Mary, decided it was time to pursue her dream of building a cooperative natural healthcare practice. With the vision in mind, she began assembling practitioners to join her and the search for a building. Dr. Nicola contacted Joe Keck to “totally understand the resources that were available.” After talking with Joe and his assistant, Lynn Asano, Dr. Nicola was referred to the

Read More »
Doggy Day Care

Jeff Edens learned about Doggy Day Care in Pagosa Springs because his friends Maria and Linda worked there. He purchased the business in July of 2011 and now they both work for him. Edens had a good business background as a result of previous business experience as a home builder and realtor. Doggie Day Care provides socialization for the dogs which includes reinforcing proper social manners such as no barking, no fighting and no jumping.

Read More »
Silver Sparrow Designs

By Malia Durbano Kristi Smith took a windy road to owning her own business and creating beautiful jewelry. As a young girl, she enjoyed drawing, painting and all expressive, creative endeavors. Upon discovering beading, she began to make jewelry for everyone she knew. In a high school she took a silver-smithing class at the local community college and knew she had found her true love. Learning that the equipment to get started was very costly,

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 »