Category Archives: Chamber of Commerce

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Check out the new Downtown Blairsville App!

Downtown Blairsville now has a great new app that lets you stay connected to everything happening in Blairsville-Union County! Update your calendar with upcoming events, explore all of the restaurants, shopping, and other businesses in the area, learn about some of the local history, and much more! The FREE Downtown Blairsville app is available for download on both Apple and Google. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Cabin Coffee owners, Wayne and Judy Jolley

Cabin Coffee Co. Loves Calling Blairsville Home

Blairsville has been the perfect location for Cabin Coffee Co. and its owners, Wayne & Judy Jolley. Check out their story below.

Learn more about starting or moving a business to Blairsville-Union County at www.visitblairsvillega.com/business.

Corrugated Replacements

And the 2017 Business of the Year is…

Congratulations to Corrugated Replacements, Business of the Year for 2017! We appreciate everything that this business brings to our community. Here’s a quote from Corrugated Replacements on running a business in Blairsville-Union County:

“Manufacturing is great for Union County because it provides an industry where people can live and work in an area that is beautiful and rural, yet thrive in a professional business that is main stream in the global economy.”

Thanks to everyone who came out to An Evening With The Stars last week and to all of our Chamber members, you truly make our area an amazing place to live and work! We look forward to everything that 2018 has in store.

An Evening With The Stars

An Evening With The Stars

Tomorrow night, we will be honoring Union County’s STAR student and teacher as well as the Business of the Year! The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honors Georgia’s highest achieving high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development.  The STAR student and teacher for Union County High School are:

UCHS STAR Student: McKenzie Hooper
UCHS STAR Teacher: April Krieger​

In addition, we will announce the Business of the Year for 2017 at the event. The Business of the Year is awarded to a chamber member who is actively involved in chamber and community functions throughout the year, and is of the highest moral and ethical character and demonstrates a genuine concern for community affairs through participation in civic groups, volunteer programs or non-profit organizations.

It is important to acknowledge excellence and achievement in our community, and this evening of food, entertainment, and recognition of these awards is an amazing opportunity to do just that. Reservations for this event closed on February 15, but we look forward to seeing those with reservations tomorrow!

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How To Set Good Quarterly Goals

If you are a business owner, or a decision maker at any level of a business, you understand the need to set attainable goals for the year. In fact, you probably already set your 2018 goals before the end of last year. A great way to make lasting headway toward meeting your yearly goals is to make quarterly goals. Here are some tips for making measurable and realistic quarterly goals:

Take A Good Look Back
A great place to start is in the recent past, the last quarter. Examine both the highs and the lows your business experienced, since both success and failure can be great teachers, as a way of figuring out what to keep doing or do differently in the next quarter. Great questions to ask are “What made this go so well (or go so poorly)?”, “What can we do differently to prevent this outcome (or maintain this success) in the future?”, “How can our experiences this past quarter push us toward our annual goals?”

Get Your Priorities Straight
Figure out what goals are most important to achieving your larger-scale mission. Make a list of everything you would like for your business to achieve in the coming quarter. Then, go through the list and mark each item as a first, second, or third priority. After that, assign each of these priorities to a specific person (or people) on your team.

Keep Everyone Accountable
Establishing accountability for yourself and your team members is crucial to meeting your quarterly (and larger scale) mission(s). Make a weekly breakdown of who is supposed to achieve what and how. Hold meetings to measure the progress and create a visual (like a chart or graph) illustrating how much of each objective has been completed. This way, you and your team can see the progress being made and identify trouble spots while there’s still time to make corrections.

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Entrepreneur Success: Panel Built

Blairsville-Union County is the perfect place for your business and family to thrive with an ideal location and business-friendly environment. Hear why local business Panel Built, Inc. continues to choose Union County for their home.

Learn more about starting or moving a business to Blairsville-Union County at www.visitblairsvillega.com/business/.

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Creating Fiction and Converting it to Reality

You’ve just finished reading a book of fiction that you were so engrossed in; you just couldn’t put it down. You later wonder how the author created all the characters, the twists and turns, identified the emotions with such depth, she made you weep and laugh, fight for the underdog and kept you guessing as to the ending with every single page.

Writers dream their stories, usually while they are writing them. Rarely do they know where the story will take them. What they do have is a theme. And then they begin to develop characters, sometimes over years of note taking, or maybe just on their way to taking and picking up their kids from school. Waiting in the car line, they can’t stop thinking about these characters; very much like you’ve been imagining the start of your business.

So, let’s take your business that you’ve been envisaging, and let’s write its story. It will be fiction, but based on how you imagine it. Your characters will be you, your family (because they will be impacted every day), your imaginary staff and or collaborators. There will be the people who help fund you (try not to look as the banker as the villain), possibly a landlord, as well.  There will be sales people coming out of the woodwork, so write about the ones you want to deal with. Now, don’t forget to create the kind of customers you want to do business with, who you believe will want to purchase your product or hire your service.

You should have several pages of a legal pad or your word processor filled already with characters. Now try telling the story of how you begin, playing close attention to the details. If you haven’t designed a business plan for your dream, google “businesses plans” and use the outline for your trade type as a guideline to creating your story. What’s most important is that you continually use your dream, your business as you want it to be, as the basis for your story.

Take it through the startup, the first real triumphs, and the disappointments, as well.  As an example, if you start a seasonal business where you and your team go into customers’ homes and take their boxes of Christmas decorations and set it all up, everything from outside lights to the ornaments on the tree, you may find yourself writing about how well received this service is, keeping you and your staff so busy that you realize that there won’t be time for you to set up your own Christmas tree, buy one gift or bake a batch of gingerbread cookies with your family. In business, there are always trade-offs.

You can take the story as far as you would like, but you probably will find yourself cutting from the fiction and heading to reality. You’ll start to fine tune the dream, laying concrete business plans, opening new avenues of possibilities to a line of services that can help your customer base many more times a year than just Christmas. You’ll begin to investigate the options you have for funding, you’ll research the answers to the questions that will arise as you go through this exercise, like the time you googled “pitfalls to a commercial lease”.

The likelihood is that your story will never be published as just that. Yet it very well could be the one important exercise that leads you into converting your dream business into reality. And don’t forget that here at the Chamber of Commerce, we’re a cast of characters just waiting to be an integral part of your success story.

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Business Team

Creating A Balanced Team

Let’s play a little mind game, OK? I want you to close your eyes and imagine only the following. You have answered an ad for help wanted. The ad was intriguing, the pay they offered was very competitive, but they never said what the job entailed. When you arrive at the interview, the person you are introduced to escorts you into a room with just an overhead light, a desk and a desk chair. The top of the desk is covered with piles of papers and folders, just in stacks.  Your instructions are simply to sort the piles. When you are done, you should have an idea what the job description should be.  The person exits the room and closes the door.

As you look at the papers you realize that there are everything from recipes on cards, to accounts payable receipts, clipped newspaper articles and stuffed folders without labels. Here’s the one and only question I want you to answer.  What is your instinctive methodology? In other words, do you start to make piles of all like items, a pile of recipes, a pile of folders, and a pile of newspaper clippings?  Or do you start to look at each piece and begin to put the puzzle together as they seem to relate?

Know the answer? Good. Then please read on.

There is no correct answer, by the way. If it seemed natural to you that you begin putting the like items in separate piles to begin the first phase of the task, you are most likely what is referred to as a “Container”.  If your initial impulse is to start piecing the puzzle together with investigating each piece of paper, you are referred to as an “Expander”.  What’s important here is that you need both Expanders and Containers to run a business.

The Containers are your organized, task oriented employees. They implement the ideas and plans of the Expanders. If you just have idea people, but no one to implement the ideas, you have creative chaos. If you only have those implementers, but no new ideas and strategies to be developed, then the ship runs smoothly, but it goes nowhere.

If you are a one man operation, it is of utmost importance that you understand whether you are mostly a Container or an Expander. If you recognize that you are an Expander, then you should begin to look for sub-contractors that will be your creative force. They come up with you ad campaigns, design your t-shirts, and handle your social media.  If you are the creative force, then sub-contract a bookkeeper, someone to come in once a month to do your filing, someone else to maintain the premises, so that your best energies are spent doing what you do best.

If you are now trying to expand your internal staff, this is even a more urgent exercise. Take the staff you currently have and put them through this same scenario. Let them tell you who they are, don’t just use your judgement of them from what you’ve seen so far.  Once you’ve identified the number of Expanders and Containers you have on staff, you have a better idea what to look for when adding to the team.  Maybe you have a position open that you recognize will need an Expander, but you already have too many Expanders on staff. It’s time to move your people around. Put the creative force behind the idea pool and the implementers in the “get it done” pool. Now what position do you have open?

It’s all about the balance. Consider it “Business Yin and Yang”.

Back to Grow

Photo Courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

What We’re Thankful For in 2017…

2017 has been a year we’ll never forget in Blairsville-Union County, and we have so much to be thankful for! This year, we’ve had record numbers of visitors to our area (thanks, in part, to the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse in August), a continued increase in ribbon cuttings, and healthy growth overall in our area. None of this would have been possible without the support of the incredible community that is Blairsville-Union County!

As we approach Thanksgiving this week, we’d like to encourage everyone to take time to enjoy your family and friends and, in the spirit of the holiday, truly reflect on everything you have to be thankful for. No matter what your station in life may be, we are all truly blessed in so many ways. With that said, we at the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce would like to take a moment to publicly thank our leadership board, our staff, our members, our city and county officials, and our community for another amazing year. Each and every one of you make us proud to call this place home, and we are truly grateful for a community in which we truly look out for one another.

On behalf of all of us at the Chamber, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Business of Making Memories

We were nine adults, sitting around the backyard fire pit, drinking real hot cocoa topped with fluffy marshmallows. As the late autumn breeze became chillier, the hostess left us to rustle up blankets for each of her guests. We threw them around ourselves and instinctively wrapped up in them like they were our cocoons.

Someone sighed and said “Oh, this reminds me of summer camp in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie over 50 years ago.” For the next two hours we exchanged memories of our childhood camp experiences. Though we had raised a dozen children between us, not one of us mentioned the recollections we had of their experiences. Our own camp memoirs were so rich and tangible, even a half century later, we couldn’t stop sharing. Eventually the fire burned to just ambers and we regretfully ended our journey down memory lane.

When deciding to open a business here in Union County, you will ask yourself a myriad of questions. Can I make a living out of what I’m most passionate about? Is this something I think I can be absorbed about for the next several years?  Why would people choose to do business with me instead of who they’ve been doing business with in the past? Where can I open my business that is affordable and will draw the most traffic?

All of these are important considerations, yet one of the most important questions seldom gets asked. Will my business make memories for my customers? Because if their experience with you is memorable, they will continue to do business with you and they’ll share that experience with everyone. If your yarn shop is completely off the beaten path, but the alpaca, whose fleece are used to make your yarn, are available to your customers to pet and feed, they will drive miles for that experience. They’ll take pictures, post it on social media, most likely with a link to your FB page, and now they are using these memorable experiences as free marketing for your business.

I know, you are thinking, “I want to open a window washing business. How do I create a memorable experience for my customers?” All recollections don’t have to be pleasant. Taking before and after pictures of some of the worst windows, then sharing them in a “thank you for your business” card will be all they need. After the windows are clean, they might not remember what they looked like before. You can remind them how awful they were and now they can experience sunlight streaming freely through them, once again. They’ll also remember your effort to let them know how much you appreciate their business and will now have two extra business cards you taped on the back of the photos to use when referring you to their neighbors. If you are washing windows on the second or third floor, ask them to use your cell phone take a picture of you up on the ladder. Post this pic to their social media page and yours, thanking them for helping your business “reach new heights.”

The Blairsville-Union Chamber of Commerce offers great think tank sessions throughout the year, where local entrepreneurs, just like you, gather to discuss their ideas. Make us part of your journey to opening your business. Oh, and if your takeaway from this article has you dreaming about opening a camp just for adults here in the mountains, we bet you’d have great success.

Back to Dream