Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

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

The State of Tourism in Blairsville-Union County: Part 1

If you remember, in 2015, Union County along with the City of Blairsville, Union County Economic Development, Downtown Development Authority, and the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce procured the professional services of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government to develop a new Branding position for our community. Through an in-depth process including a full market analysis and public input, it was determined that there are two target markets we are wanting to invite into our area. The first key market segment is Fast Track Families.  This is demographic is defined as: Upscale Middle Age with Kids. With their upscale incomes, numerous children, and spacious homes, Fast-Track Families are in their prime acquisition years. These middle-aged parents have the disposable income and educated sensibility to want the best for their children. They buy the latest technology with impunity: new computers, DVD players, home theater systems, and video games. They take advantage of their rustic locales by camping, boating, and fishing. Secondly, the focus is entrepreneurs/small business. Entrepreneurship is defined as someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. To be concise, the goal is to have a younger family demographic move in and have small businesses creating jobs simultaneously.

The next step was to create an internal mission statement and an external tagline and logo. The Positioning Statements guide our marketing and operating decisions. Our Positioning Statement reads: The growing entrepreneur or small business owner can escape to a thriving community surrounded by natural beauty.  Blairsville-Union County offers everything you need to grow your family and your business–– delivering strong business support, a top five school system, and endless community and recreational amenities.  The growing entrepreneur can escape, discover, and thrive in Blairsville-Union County.  A tagline is a succinct phrase situated under or alongside your logo that communicates a single but powerful brand message designed to resonate strongly with an intended audience. #BelieveIt

Arriving in Blairsville always makes one stop and say “I can’t believe this.” Ice Climbing, the Appalachian Trail, an airport in the valley, near a big casino, new businesses opening every week, unparalleled views, moonshine, wine & grits, high speed fiber optic cable, Farmers Market, trails, a Georgia Top 5 School system, an award-winning hospital, a preserved and growing downtown, golf, farm to table, lakes, streams, headquarters for a large bank, friendly people. This list goes on.  Well, it is not unbelievable. In fact, all you have to do is believe it.  All this can be your story as you grow a business, plant your family, expand your opportunity, and improve your life.  Blairsville – Union County.  Believe It.

Part 2 will recap the implementation of the rebranding project. For more information about the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, call 706-745-5789 or go to VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.

Entrepreneur Quiz

Interested in owning your own business? Great! We’re here to help. But before you start on business plans and logos, there are some things you should know. Entrepreneurship is more than just a career move, it’s a lifestyle. Being a business owner has several wonderful advantages, but there are very real risks and sacrifices as well.

Want to know if business ownership is right for you? While we can’t tell you the answer to that, we have put together a little self-assessment quiz to help point you in the right direction. Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 within the guidelines of each questions and, remember, be honest!

Can you handle stress and uncertainty?
10 = The not-knowing serves as extra motivation.
1 = You panic when you’re not sure what your lunch plans are.

Are you a hard worker?
10 = You like to get things done right the first time, no matter how long it takes.
1 = You tend to shoot for the bare minimum in terms of effort.

Are you a leader?
10 = People seem to naturally follow your lead most of the time.
1 = You prefer to take orders and not be out front.

Are you a self-starter?
10 = You don’t need outside motivation to get something done, you just get started.
1 = You always need more than a little push to accomplish something.

Do you work well with others?
10 = You are always looking for opportunities to meet & get to know people.
1 = You avoid meeting new people at all costs.

Are you responsible?
10 = You prefer to be the one responsible for getting results and are OK with taking the blame if things don’t go well.
1 = You’d prefer not to be in the “hot seat” when it comes to responsibility.

Can you persevere through difficulty?
10 = You don’t give up until you’ve met your goals.
1 = You look for a way out when things don’t go so well.

Are you organized?
10 = You are always well-prepared and have things planned out several steps ahead.
1 = You typically are not very prepared and are usually surprised by what happens next.

Total up your scores and see where you land:
70 – 80: Entrepreneurship is definitely for you, you probably started yesterday anyways.
50 – 69: Business ownership is something you should seriously consider. Just a few minor things to work on.
30 – 49: You have some real work to do on your weak areas, but you’re certainly capable of succeeding it if it’s important to you.
Under 30: Owning a business may not be your calling.

Top 5 Reasons to Move Your Business to Blairsville

Blairsville is a beautiful town and an ideal place for raising a family, growing a business and living the life you’ve always wanted. We are confident that whether you move your existing business or build a new one from the ground up, Blairsville can give you the people and resources you need to be successful. To help start your decision making process, we’ve put together a list of our top five reasons you should consider moving your business and family to Blairsville.

  1. Find Your Perfect Mix of Business and Pleasure
    There is an old adage that goes “If you do something you love, you never have to go to work a day in your life.” In Blairsville, we want our business owners to succeed in doing what they love as much as we want them to love the place they work. Blairsville has the infrastructure and workforce to accommodate your needs, as well as vast leisure activities and an exceptionally high quality of living – making your workplace feel more like a vacation destination. Watch this video to hear from local business owner, Chris Wadle, to see how relocation to Blairsville enabled him to pursue both his career aspirations and personal passions.
  1. Entrepreneurs Welcome Here
    We love new ventures in Blairsville and will work alongside you to assist in your business needs. Blairsville offers a low tax rate and helpful resources to start and grow your business. The Blairsville Chamber of Commerce can provide assistance to members with anything from advertising to professional development. Also, the Union County Development Authority provides extensive information about being an “Entrepreneur Friendly Community,” and even has a guide to help entrepreneurs with planning, financing, and licensing.
  1. Big City Benefits, Small Town Comforts
    For entrepreneurs looking to have all the benefits of a metropolitan area without all the stresses of city life, Blairsville is the ideal location. Just a two hour drive from Atlanta and three other major cities, Blairsville is close enough to several major cities to easily accommodate work you may have in those areas – without the long commutes and concrete jungles of urban areas.Business in Blairsville comes with a slower pace of life and tight-knit community without sacrificing modern technology. Blairsville has top of the line broadband services with a 100% fiber network, meaning your internet speed will be just as great in your Blairsville office as it would be in any major city. Blairsville can even accommodate call and data centers with ease.
  1. Blairsville is Family Friendly
    Blairsville has everything you need to grow your family. With a wide range of leisure activities and a top-rated school system and hospital, relocation for your family has never been easier. Your family can thrive in a community that strives to build up a future generation of leaders. Watch this video to hear from local business owner and mom, Ilke Lander, to hear how Blairsville has a focus on family.
  1. A Growing Tourism Industry
    The Georgia Department of Economic Development reported that tourism in Georgia is a $59 billion industry. Nestled in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, Blairsville has its own robust tourism industry that is continually growing and seeking new ways to increase visitors, thanks to the dedication of local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce. Blairsville has parks, trails, mountains, festivals, lakes, waterfalls, events, wedding venues, wineries, and many other exciting activities that attract thousands of visitors each year. As tourism continues to grow, so will your business and your outreach.

For more information on Blairsville or to look into opening your business in this friendly mountain town, visit www.visitblairsvillega.com.

Entrepreneur Success: Sunrise Grocery

The Sunrise Grocery has been a beloved local store in Blairsville, Georgia since the 1920s. We talked to the current owner, Jason Clemmons, about the store’s history and his keys to success.

Bob and Christine Clemmons bought the small business in the 1980s after stopping by the store while on a vacation at Vogel State Park. The Clemmons family moved from Florida to Blairsville to run the store and expanded the Sunrise business to include two cabins available to rent on the Nottely River. Jason Clemmons, son of Bob and Christine, has continued the legacy of business success by focusing on selling quality local goods.

What makes Sunrise Grocery a unique small business?
I think what makes us unique is time. We’ve tried to take people back with our store. We have old rough lumber shelving. We trade locally like they once did. The original store has been here since the early 20’s. Families have been coming to Vogel State Park for generations and we have always been their stop for the common goods, camping supplies, and their local apples and peaches. We still boil our peanuts with firewood. Our logo is an old man picking a banjo.  The reason for that is that it represents old Appalachia to me. That’s what I’m trying to pass on. A certain ambiance of how it use to be here. I really think when people pass through our doors they do drift back and think about how things were. I hope so anyway.

What challenges has Sunrise Grocery faced?
The biggest challenge, for me, was about six years ago. Sunrise Grocery used to be the only thing between Vogel and Blairsville. So we would sell a lot of staples. Milk, bread, charcoal, and things like that. Then a large gas station opened near by, Walmart opened, and a Dollar General opened just down the road. We actually had people saying to us ‘What we were going to do?’ because we wouldn’t make it. Well, we decided to localize. We just increased everything local. Jellies, pottery, soaps, honey, syrup, candies, and just brand ourselves as the oldest business in Blairsville. You can’t recreate that! Not only did we make it, we’ve had our best years!

What advice can you give small business owners?
The biggest tip I could give people is the old saying: location, location, location! You have to have a location people see.

What has been the key to your business success?
I think our family’s keys to success here at Sunrise is customer service. I remember my parents going to the house to get things for customers we didn’t have at the store to save them a trip to town. It’s hard to be on top of that all the time just due to getting sidetracked on other goings on at the store, or something like that, but we try to make all people feel at home and part of the Sunrise family.

What makes Blairsville a great community to own a business?
The community of Blairsville is the best there is!  People in town have always supported us. They bring their family to us when they have visitors. Local businesses come to buy gift baskets for their clients. So we have tons of support from Blairsville!

The things I love in Blairsville is the people, culture, and the beautiful mountains. I also have JMC photography where I focus on our landscape.These mountains will talk to you if you listen. It’s like no other place on Earth. That’s my humble opinion, though.

Four For the Future Article Features Blairsville-Union County

We are extremely proud that Blairsville-Union County was recently featured in Georgia Trend as part of their Four For the Future article. Here’s an excerpt:

Deep in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest, amidst North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Blairsville and Union County easily attract visitors interested in hiking, horseback riding, 80 miles of Appalachian Trail, waterfalls, golf, fishing, whitewater rafting, even ice climbing.

There are also reasons to make it home. A comprehensive rebranding effort completed in August 2015, led Blairsville, Union County, the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce and the Union County Development Authority to focus on drawing entrepreneurs, small business owners and young families to the area.

“Most of the focus prior to the economic downturn had been in tourism,” says Patrick Malone, interim chamber president. “Now the focus is on more stability, reaching very specific types of businesses. The lean is toward bringing young entrepreneurs to visit and start their business here. This is a great place to be outdoors, grow a business and raise a family.”

Malone, raised in Ohio, chose the South as home and knows that the vast recreational assets that bring visitors to the area can also motivate folks to start businesses and move their families there. He hopes people’s reaction is “Let’s see it to believe it.”   

The rebranding study gathered input from more than 500 residents and produced a new logo and tagline: “Believe It.”

“The project with the University of Georgia was an exciting process,” says Tobie Chandler, director of tourism at the chamber. “We also enlisted help from the community to assess our assets and together saw a need for a change in dynamics and added dimensions.

“A perfect central location, Blairsville is two hours from everywhere – Atlanta, Chattanooga, Knoxville, North and South Carolina,” she says, “and it’s an area with city amenities in a mountainous setting.”

Native Lamar Paris, the sole commissioner for Union County since 2001, tips his cap to UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government Director Laura Meadows and her team for recognizing the area’s commitment to preserve heritage and grow simultaneously.

“We’re a little off the beaten path, but there are many reasons to live here,” says Paris, citing low tax rates, top-rated schools, an airport and quality healthcare, in addition to quality of life. And there is industry: Corrugated Replacements, Panel Built and Advanced Digital Cable all call Union County home.

Paris thinks it critical to create opportunity for those who were born and raised here to return and believes “there is just no reason not to live here.”

“We want to create a reputation as a rural community with high-quality living standards and appeal to varied target audiences,” says Mitch Griggs, Union County Development Authority director. “This is an unbelievable community with opportunity for the young entrepreneur with a growing family and for the mature business owner who may want to relocate for personal reasons.”

Among Union County’s immeasurable assets are its leaders, some with homegrown dedication and some who came to Georgia and loved it too much to leave. As for the future success of the efforts to draw young families and new business to this beautiful place, there is just no reason not to believe. – Bonnie Smith

Thanks to Georgia Trend and the University of Georgia’s Public Service and Outreach Division for including us!

Source: http://www.georgiatrend.com/April-2016/Four-for-the-Future/