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.