National Small Business Week kicked off this morning with an awards ceremony honoring the National Small Business Person of the Year. We thought now would be a great time to draw some attention to a few of our favorite small business people across the US.
Building great accounting software is just a small piece of what we do here at Xero. We help small businesses. And whenever we can, we try and connect with them to find out what we can do to make it easier for them to run their businesses.
We work with small business owners in every possible industry all across the US. Whenever we get a chance, we hit the road and visit a few to find out what they’re up to. Our most recent trips took us to California, North Carolina and Texas. We got to eat, try on some new skin care products, eat some more, and we even left with a little college memorabilia.
Running a small business can present a ton of challenges, and while there can only be one National Small Business Person of the Year, we think any one of these small business owners could have held that title.
Mom and Popcorn – McKinney, Texas
If the 51 amazing popcorn flavors (Pizza flavored anyone?), assortment of hard to find candy, and old fashioned glass bottled drinks weren’t enough, I’d include Mom and Popcorn on my list because it’s in my hometown (true story). Founded in 2006, this downtown McKinney institution can handle any craving you can throw at them, sweet or salty (the Smores popcorn in a must).
After taking over from the original owner, brothers Dave and Jon Willson, along with partners Jennie and Aaron Rollins, quickly worked to set the business up for success. Dave and Jon, accountants at Zenkeep quickly realized they needed to get some systems in place to understand where the business was at. When they first got involved with Mom and Popcorn there was no Point of Sale, payroll, inventory or accounting systems. That means they were flying blind on most business decisions. But once they moved past counting stock by hand and checking the bank account every day to see if payments had gone through, they decided the next step in their business was shipping their delicious popcorn nationwide.
PREP Cosmetics – Dallas, Texas
Founder Kelly Barker had an ah-ha moment as she and her daughter were going through their morning routines. While her daughter’s routine included brushing her teeth and hair, taking her vitamins, and packing a healthy lunch just like her mom, she didn’t put on any sunscreen. Knowing skin protection isn’t just for adults, she went in search of some for her young daughter. She wanted something playful and fun, but it also had to be all natural and non-chemical. When the market didn’t provide it, she and her friend Carole Aponte, a practicing dermatologist, decided to make it themselves. PREP Cosmetics was born.
Kelly says that a lot of people underestimate how hard it really is to run a business. Since Carole has a full time job, it falls to Kelly to do the brunt of the work that moves her business forward. This is what led her to an Apple event where she learned about Xero and Vend and how they could streamline her business and save her hours a day. Now Kelly is focusing on educating more girls on the need for skin protection at a young age.
A-List Greek – Los Angeles, California
After starting her career as a lawyer, Hope Gray quickly grew tired of the cut-throat atmosphere and the constant need to rack up billable hours. She stayed involved with her sorority network and it was because of them that she was led to her business idea. They all realized that there wasn’t anything new in the realm of sorority jewelry since they had been in school. Nothing was on trend, just the same old styles that had been around for 20 years. They resolved to solve the problem with A-List Greek, making sorority based jewelry that you actually want to wear.
By using their campus representatives, and focusing on selling the types of jewelry they liked, they’ve hit their five year goal in year one. In fact, Hope has expanded to a second headquarters in Florida, becoming truly bi-coastal. With her employees and campus reps spread out across the country, it was important for Hope to be able to run her business remotely. She got that ability with Xero by having employees log into the app to log their hours so payroll became something she didn’t’ have to think about.
Secret Chocolatier – Charlotte, North Carolina
The Secret Chocolatier is a true family business. Andy and Robin Ciordia have gotten their whole family involved. Andy creates the barks and toffees, Robin does cakes and her father, Bill, does truffles, meanwhile Robin and Andy’s son can be found exploring the kitchen.
They started their business by going to local farmers markets and building up a fanbase for their sweet creations. Now they have two locations and their chocolates are sold in another nine stores across Charlotte. Soon after they started, they switched to Square for point of sale. Not only did it make accepting credit cards a snap, it integrates with Xero which means no need to manually input sales transactions. Andy says that’s saved him at least four hours a week already, four hours we hope he’s spent making Cinnamon Roll Bon Bons (and shipping them down to our headquarters in Wellington, NZ).
These are just a few of the amazing small business owners that Xero has helped along on their journey. Stay tuned this week because we will be highlighting many more, offering advice from our in house experts on how to run and grow your business, and sharing guides to tackling some of the most common problems small businesses face.
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