038 – Betty Hoge, Small Business Development Center



Food Business Support. Do you have a great idea for a food business? To succeed, you’re going to need more than that. Over half of new restaurants in this country fail within the first year. That’s not good news in a place like Charlottesville where you might be competing with over 400 other restaurants for customers.

Luckily, we have such an encouraging community here for small business. I’ve never presented an idea to someone and been discouraged. But as in so many things, you can’t succeed alone. It takes a village. Betty Hoge, Director of the Charlottesville Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is here to help.

Their mission is simple. SBDC works to enhance our local economy by providing assistance to local and midsize businesses. For FREE or very little cost. There is no hidden agenda or bias to convince new owners to use a particular service. SBDC only works to enhance the local economy. Because a world full of nothing but big box stores would be a sad one indeed. Independently-owned small businesses provide a lot to the social atmosphere and culture of a community. It keeps money within the community and makes that community rich in culture and uniqueness.

May 1st through 7th was National Small Business Week! I didn’t know that when we spoke, but what better way to celebrate than to speak with her about all the ways SBDC can help new and existing small food business owners in our community.

SBDC helped local restaurant Nude Fude get off the ground. If you listen to our talk in Episode 11, both Ken and Dani Notari speak at length about how SBDC helped them create a business plan, scout a location, and figure out the best way to ensure their restaurant would succeed. Because of confidentiality agreements SBDC cannot brag about the many restaurants they have helped. But believe me, it’s a lot.

SBDC offers FREE confidential consulting then customizes services based on the owner’s needs. They offer business development training and numerous resources, most at no cost for businesses not yet large enough to hire professionals on their own. Last year they helped 150-200 businesses navigate things like accounting, licensing, and figuring out how to expand. Many times folks come to SBDC with a grand idea but very little capital. SBDC can help them see the truth, change to realistic goals, and help them grow slowly within their means so eventually a bank may give them a loan.

How did this former foodie and restaurant owner of The Dog and Pickle Beanery, Pub, and Banquet Hall become the director of our local SBDC? It’s a super interesting story, particularly since she first got experience in small business direction by volunteering at her local chapter! Yes, you can get your dream job by volunteering within the field people!

How does SBDC help folks without 10 investors and huge budgets who can’t afford a space on The Downtown Mall? How are food trucks a good stepping stone to a brick and mortar establishment? What free course is offered monthly at SBDC? What do pharmacists, artists, and food business owners have in common? Listen to find out.

To further SBDC’s mission, the 2nd Annual Business of Food Conference will be held at the Charlottesville Omni on Monday, June 20, 2016 from 8am-4pm. At theTom Tom Food Business Summit last month local restaurateurs, chefs, and food producers got serious about the business of food, discussing their issues, triumphs, questions, and concerns. This conference will carry on that important conversation.

The Business of Food Conference is a way for new and existing food business owners to get together, network, talk, and learn from one another. A shared conference with the SBDC in Harrisonburg, this conference celebrates our entire region because, thankfully, we are awash in food businesses. Topics will include local food trends, business trends, and practices that allow a food business to be successful. Attendees will learn accounting, understanding financial statements, marketing tips, insights on social media, and even menu design. What optimal wording gets people to order more? At this conference, you’ll find out. There will also be breakout sessions on designing a kitchen. Where should things go? What essential equipment do you need? Maybe that sous vide machine isn’t as important as you think.

Lunch is provided and confirmed speakers include Crissanne Raymond of No Bull Burger (Episode 13), Katrina Didot from Harrisonburg’s A Bowl of Good, Erin Ludwig of Jack Brown’s, and Nathan West of Mad Hatter Hot Sauce. There will also be some craft cocktail activities on The Downtown Mall after the conference at participating restaurants so the conversations can continue.

Tickets are only $119 until June 14th, then go up to $139 for an entire day of networking, food, and valuable learning. Costs go toward expenses to put on the conference. Money which stays in the community to help the community.

Betty Hoge and the SBDC are such valuable assets to our  Charlottesville food community and I’m thrilled to have talked with her. I’ll be helping promote the conference, including broadcasting a special extra episode of Edacious closer to conference time. If you have ideas for topics, speakers, or would like to be a corporate sponsor for this event, contact me here or Betty Hoge at 434-979-5610. Enjoy this important episode!

SHOW NOTES – Links to resources talked about during the podcast:

This episode is sponsored by In A Flash Laser Engraving.

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