COVID-19-RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Financial assistance is available for small businesses (under 500 employees) as a result of the COVID-19 Disaster Declaration! Contact Virgil Moore, Executive Director of the Breckenridge Economic Development Corporation, for details! Email your inquires to: vmoore@breckenridgetexas.com

The Chamber of Commerce is here to help as well! Please keep us informed of your hours, specials, and how you are working through the crisis. We want to hear from you! Call us, message us, or Tag us on Facebook!

#we’reinthistogether #lovebreckenridge

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

I have struggled writing this and in finding the right words to express to others what is on my mind.  Most of us realize, COVID-19 is impacting our communities.  It is impacting our small businesses, and in many cases will have long-term effects.  Many businesses are so worried, they already seeing the beginning of COVID-19 as an end.  This saddens me.

Believe me, I KNOW that for small businesses this is HARD! This is hard for ALL businesses.  However, I see people who work with the Economic Development Board watching webinars on how to help; visiting with state agencies; board members of the Chamber and EDC calling one another with ideas and developing plans for assistance; all working to help local businesses.

Before you stop reading, this is not a post about praising these people (although they do work hard and deserve recognition).  This is a post about THERE ARE RESOURCES, and programs, and trained people, that can help businesses.

No one (personally or professionally) wants to admit financial hardships.  I want our business owners to know, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! The EDC, the Chamber, Workforce Solutions, SBA… they share a common goal…helping businesses!

This is not a time for pride to stand in the way.  PLEASE utilize the resources as they become available! Please be in contact with local and state agencies who can help you during this difficult time. 

Most of all, let’s support one another, share resources, and when this is over be able to still see the lights burning in our local businesses!  -Carrie Holson, Executive Director

Externship=Summer Cash for Teachers

Is it ever too late to learn new things? Workforce Solutions doesn’t think so!   They are partnering with BISD teachers to “teach the teachers” about local businesses.  What better way to educate our youth about job and business opportunities than to have our teachers gain first-hand knowledge?

Workforce Solutions will pay local teachers $500…YES…$500 to work side-by-side industry peers for THREE days this summer at a participating business. Educators will gain insight to take back to the classroom and be able to share their personal experiences with students.

What a great opportunity for our teachers and students!  Know who else this is great for? Local Businesses!  Local employers can sign-up to participate, allowing them to share details and insight about their business, and career opportunities that may exist for our local students!

The “WE-CONNECT” Externship Program 2020 will take registrations until March 6th.  PLEASE! Share this! This is truly a WIN-WIN for Breckenridge teachers, employers and students!  

Did you know Workforce Solutions has other programs like this? They do so much more than post job openings.  They also help with training (and training expenses) for prospective employees.  I would love to share more with anyone interested!

Slow Times

Do you ever feel like your business gets in a slump?  For many, that’s the end of January or February when the weather is bad and no one wants to go out. But regardless of when your slow time is, it’s never a good time for the small business owner, no matter how predictable.

Augusta Greater Chamber compiled a list of 30 helpful ideas to increase sales during your traditionally slow times.

  1. Host a customer appreciation event or open house. Market it heavily.
  2. Offer a publicized giveaway or special purchase that is so good it will bring people in.
  3. Use social media to create targeted ads to your ideal customers.
  4. Offer a class at your location.
  5. Revamp your website.
  6. Concentrate on improving your SEO (search engine optimization). There are tons of tips on the internet on how to do this even if you’re not an SEO expert.
  7. Work on your Google My Business listing.
  8. Experiment with using AdWords more heavily.
  9. Partner with another business to provide referrals to one another.
  10. Work with your chamber or Main Street Association to create an event that will bring foot traffic to your area.
  11. Join your chamber of commerce and attend networking events, become a sponsor or volunteer.
  12. Contact organizations that your ideal customer is a member of.
  13. Sponsor a local ball team or PTA.
  14. Take out an ad in a sports, festival, play, or graduation program.
  15. Get out of the office/business and talk to people. Hand out brochures, coupons, or business cards with samples.
  16. Speak in front of a group about a topic you’re an expert in.
  17. Start a blog or, if you already have one, look for opportunities to guest blog on blogs that appeal to your ideal audience. Do the same for podcasts.
  18. Reconnect with former clients and customers to see if their needs have changed. Offer them an incentive to come back.
  19. Send a special customer appreciation email to your customers. Offer them something to make an additional purchase or to upgrade by a certain time.
  20. Run a social media contest.
  21. Start a newsletter.
  22. Start an email nurturing campaign and reach out to customers periodically with something they could use.
  23. Request reviews from past customers on popular review sites and publish excerpts on your website.
  24. Poll customers to find out what they most want or need help with.
  25. Consider a new product line or service. Do the research when it’s slow.
  26. Get to know your neighbor businesses and who their ideal customers are. If you know someone is in the market for something they offer, make the referral or introduction. Business Karma is a powerful thing and you have to give to get.
  27. Connect with top employers in your area to find out how you may be of service to their employees. The company may give Christmas gift certificates and your business could get on that list or they may have a direct need for your business.
  28. Think of the time of year that’s slowest and create an event or content around it. For instance, if spring break falls during your slow time think about how you might market to spring breakers. What do you have that might be appealing to people visiting or people going on spring break and leaving your area? Things like a spring break checklist or ads targeted at this group are very effective. Recognize a need and fill it.
  29. Unveil something. Whether it’s a secret recipe, a secret to success, or some other thing people would be interested in, making a big dramatic impression can get a lot of people talking about you.
  30. Create a special one-day or flash sale that is only marketed over social media. Make it a bit of a secret entry idea (like the old speakeasies, but not illegal). That will give people reason to talk about it

Be proactive in minimizing the slow time in your business. You’ll be more successful and less stressed! -Carrie Holson, Executive Director
 

WHY DO WE HATE CHANGE???

I’ve never considered myself one to resist change, but if you ask my kids they would differ.  I have not significantly changed my hairstyle in…ummm……let’s just say “many” years.  Believe me, my teenage girls have looked through pictures and know exactly how long it has been.  So…guess what? Ten days ago, I cut my hair above my shoulders for the first time since my (almost 18 yr. old) child was a baby!!!!

Why do we resist change??? My guess…FEAR!  Fear of the unknown. Isn’t that why we all resist change? We are comfortable with our present state; we know what to expect, and there is no guessing the outcomes.  We often resist changing our outer appearance, but more importantly, we resist internal changes; we don’t change our mindset.

If we spend decades telling ourselves we can’t achieve a goal, does that make it true? Of course not! It is never too late to change! We often miss great opportunities because we have convinced ourselves that we can’t, because we haven’t.

 What if the reason you “haven’t” is because you think the change must to be instant? Try taking smaller steps.  Tiny steps toward positive change, are still steps.  For me, I took a leap with the haircut.  No, I haven’t adjusted to it yet, but that’s okay; it’s okay to take time to process change.

As the new year approaches, be confident enough to get out of your comfort zone.  Don’t get stuck in the mindset “this is how it has always been”.  Yes, for me getting a haircut was scary; so was moving to a new town, starting a new job, being a stepmom…the list goes on. My point is, change can be scary, but it can also be fun, empowering, and amazing all at the same time!

Happy New Year!  

To Go? or Not to Go?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Unfortunately, everyone is not full of cheer. How many of you have thought, “I wish we could just skip Christmas?”

This year, Brian and I have TWO kids that turn 18, and I want Christmas to be extra special because it’s their last year living at home. Yet, be what it may, I have still had those negative vibes creep in about skipping it all.  We all have it hit for different reasons.  Maybe its financial strain; maybe it’s a bad relationship; or maybe, like me, it’s because you have lost a baby (or a loved one) and you don’t want to face the void that leaves.  None the less, we, or someone we know, will be affected by sadness or grief over the holidays. 

It’s so easy to skip festivities and withdraw from the crowds.  Are you already thinking of skipping the holiday office party? Think again! Know what helps me when I want to isolate myself? Just the opposite…surrounding myself with God’s love, and people who love me!

Our state of mind this season will affect us personally and professionally.  According to CNN Business Kathryn Vasel, you shouldn’t miss your company holiday party. These parties give you face time to talk to co-workers you may not get an opportunity to speak with another time. They give you an opportunity to meet new people and grow your network.

Here are Vasel’s top 6 tips on holiday business parties:

  1. Don’t skip them
  2. Volunteer to help plan it
  3. Before the party make a meet list of those you’d like to connect with
  4. Keep conversation topics light
  5. Focus on the people, don’t hide behind your phone
  6. Have a plan to follow up with those you meet so they remember you

Go to the holiday parties!  Attend the downtown parades! Attend a musical! Call a friend and stroll the streets and shop! Visit family! AND, this season and always, Lean on CHRIST! HE is the reason for the season!  – Carrie Holson, Executive Director

You can read Vasel’s whole article using the link below. https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/04/success/office-holiday-party-advance-career/index.html.)

Matthew McConaughey Speaks on Happiness

Ever see videos on Facebook your friends have shared and think, “Why did they post that?” I certainly have. I have unfriended family members over their repeated tasteless post.  Other times, I am scrolling along, pause to watch a video, and get stopped in my tracks.  I am sharing the video below because it was one of those videos.  

Yes…we all know the basics of being happy and how positive vibes are better than being “Negative Nancy”.  Yet, for me, hearing it from different perspectives is always refreshing. I think our brains get fed so much trash that sometimes we need to hit the “reset” button.

This video is almost 10 minutes long, but it’s worth the time to listen to what Matthew McConaughey has to say.

Walker Street Trick-or-Treat

Ghost, goblins and characters of all kinds…Are you ready for Walker Street Trick-or-Treat? We have 55 businesses ready for you!  It’s not a trick, if you stop by participating businesses between 9-5 Thursday, you will get a treat! If you see the Chamber pumpkin in the window, you will know the business is still handing out treats!

As you attend this and other festivities, please keep the following in mind for a SAFE HALLOWEEN:

S-Swords, knives and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.

A-Avoid trick-or-treating alone.  Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

F- Fasten reflective tape to costumes to help drivers see you.

E-Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

H-Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating so others can see you.

A-Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible irritation.

L-Look both ways before crossing the street.

L-Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative eye lenses.

O- Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic for safety.

W-Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.

E-Eat only factory wrapped treats. Avoid homemade items from strangers.

E-Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses.

N-Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Wear flame-resistant costumes when possible.

Stay safe and Happy Halloween from the Chamber of Commerce!

Moving into Fall

Fall is FINALLY in the air! Not only does that mean cooler temperatures, it means cool happenings with the Chamber!


We will pedal into things with the Sloan Everett Pure Country Pedal Memorial Bike Ride this Saturday, October 19th. The event will kick-off at 8:30 a.m. and conclude with a meal around noon. Non-riders are invited to attend as well. The City of Breckenridge will have Trade Days at the City Trade Barn so be sure and browse through there, and the Community-Wide Garage Sales will be going throughout town. (For more info you can visit our Events on Facebook).


Mrs. Everett (mother of Sloan) made a sample batch of cookies for the event and brought a few by on Friday and, believe me, you won’t want to miss those! From start to finish, including getting the perfect amount of chocolate chips to the cookies, this ride is proof that the Everett family takes pride in honoring Sloan. Although I never had the privilege of meeting him, I feel his love for Breckenridge pouring into the community through his family. Per their request, all proceeds from the ride will be made to the Stephens County volunteer fire departments. How humbling is that? Drop by the park Saturday, even if you don’t ride, and show your support!


Stay tuned because the activities will keep rolling over the next few months! Mark your calendars now for Walker Street Trick-or-Treat–October 31st; Denim & Diamonds Annual Banquet–November 9th; Mingle-Jingle–November 15th; and Another Charlie Brown Christmas Parade—December 14th.


Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bike. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving forward.” May you all move forward in your endeavors this season!

Why Donate?

Do you feel like your business gets bombarded with donation request? Do you sometimes wonder if you should donate? Or how donating affects your business?  Believe me when I say…. Donations to the community that you do business in DO come back to your business! 

In a recent article, Business Coach Adam Landriault shares, “Charitable giving can act as a very effective marketing tool for businesses who are looking to build their reputation and gain market share. When a company sponsors or donates to an event that is in line with their vision, it can have a very positive impact on their networking and brand awareness. One of my clients who opened a gym last year struggled to gain any traction in the industry until they decided to sponsor a local event aimed at fitness and healthy lifestyles. The sponsorship was no more than a nominal fee to have their signs displayed and a donation of some personal training sessions and memberships which were auctioned off. This generated many people inquiring about the business which has since grown to a point where they are hiring more staff and planning a second location by next year.” 

Still not convinced???

Thrive Global Magazine recognizes the following benefits:
▪ Positive image in the market: A business will attract a lot of positive comments from the external entities once it becomes charitable. Consequently, a relation of good-will will be built and the community will look forward to maintaining permanent relations with it.
▪ Better networking opportunities: Being charitable will provide a positive image to a business. This will further help businesses to gain a better clientele and work ahead of their competitors.
▪ Content Employees: A charitable business develops a sense of pride within its employees which motivates them to work better.
▪ Better Branding: Due to its contribution towards the community, a business will become influential in the community. Hence, bigger and better opportunities will make their way towards it.
▪ More Profits: Such factors will contribute towards more profit gaining for the business.

As the Chamber, we ask our members for donations several times a year. Sometimes, businesses are simply not financially able to give.  We understand this completely! We are always grateful for the contributions we receive.  In the upcoming weeks, requests will be made for the annual banquet. Please know, that while the donations help raise money for the Chamber to do our job, we want to see your donations benefit you as well! Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the “donation” side, we forget the bigger picture.  We overlook the opportunity to recognize and showcase your business and what you have to offer. We hope to utilize this, and other contribution opportunities, to have your business be the topic of discussion! As always, thank you for supporting the Breckenridge Community!