‘March Forth Business Ignitor’ to start at Sierra Commons
Special to The Union
The Itty-Bitty Cookie Factory, All About Wells, Lilja’s Cleaning Service, Elixart Café, Catalyst Communication Services and Grass Valley Yoga all credit their success to the Business Ignitor Courses offered by Sierra Commons.
Now in its eleventh year, Sierra Commons will present its six-week March4th Business Ignitor starting the first Wednesday in March. The first coworking center in the Sierra Nevada, Sierra Commons established itself in 2009 as a nonprofit business education organization in Nevada City. It offers several dozen workstations with high-speed internet in a repurposed, two-story house to service local entrepreneurs and remote workers.
Sierra Commons is best known, however, for its signature Business Ignitor Courses. About 100 local entrepreneurs started new businesses or kickstarted existing enterprises with the Business Ignitor, according to Robert X Trent, founder and executive director.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without Sierra Commons,” said Lilja Gudmundsdottir of Lilja’s Cleaning Services.
“And I couldn’t get where I’m going without Business Ignitor,” stated the Iceland native who took the course five years ago. She took it again last summer to update her business skills and in particular how to convert her independent contractor housecleaners to employees.
“The course features a team of highly qualified instructors who are working professionals in their fields. They don’t teach theory, they tech practice,” Trent said.
“Nine years ago, the Business Ignitor gave me all the resources to start a business,” said Colter Merrick.
“It also got me thinking about all the things I needed to be successful and everything I needed to be legit,” added Merrick, who co-owns Elixart Café with his wife Sharon.
The all-inclusive tuition is $425. Three half-price scholarships will be available to applicants who can demonstrate personal need and how their businesses will benefit the community as a whole, said Trent, who is the course facilitator.
“The Business Ignitor coursework was instrumental in helping me structure and operate my business — from refining my message, pricing my services, attracting the right clients, communicating my services, advertising, and managing my finances,” reported Evelyn Soltero.
Owner of All About Wells. Soltero offers “a holistic approach to groundwater sustainability.”
The syllabus for March4th Ignitor includes everything from the mindset and mindfulness of running a business to conquering fears and obstacles to the business essentials of time management, bookkeeping, taxes, law, insurance, marketing and technology.
“The classroom environment is lively and interactive with students and instructors teaching and learning from each other,” Trent explained.
In addition to the basic curriculum, students are also given access to free one-on-one mentoring through a partnership between Sierra Commons and the Sierra Small Business Development Center.
“I loved the Business Ignitor for the camaraderie with the other students and the insights you get from other people who are inspired to be self-directing independent business people,” revealed Jennifer Ekstrom, owner of Catalyst Communication Services.
An award-winning documentary filmmaker, Ekstrom said, “The course helped me get through a point in my business startup that had been holding me back for years.”
Other benefits of the Business Ignitor Course include two networking events, a graduation party and the opportunity to continue meeting as a post-graduate working group.
Grace Kendrick of Grass Valley Yoga organized the Business Ignitor X Mastermind Group, which is comprised of about half of last summer’s graduating class.
“We hold each other accountable to our goals. We cheer each other on for meeting our goals – and support each other when we don’t,” she said.
Enrollment in the March4th Business Ignitor is limited to 20 students.
“I’ll always say good things about the Ignitor class. I really enjoyed it, and the people I met,” said Business Ignitor X graduate Terri Nestore. Her home-based Itty Bitty Cookie Factory sells gluten-free cookies at SPD markets and other area stores.
For more information, contact Sierra Commons at 530-265-8443 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit sierracommons.org.
Tom Durkin is a freelance writer, editor and photographer in Nevada County. He graduated from Business Ignitor X in September 2019.
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