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Success Stories

Boulder Acupuncture and Herbs

Boulder Acupuncture and Herbs is a small business that is founded, run and owned by Norah Charles, an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. What makes Boulder Acupuncture and Herbs unique is that Norah works primarily with patients over 70 years old. Norah treats senior clients with a host of difficulties, including chronic pain, depression, and isolation. In addition to her acupuncture, Norah uses over 300 Chinese herbs for distinct wellness purposes.

Starting a business is not often easy, and it certainly was not for Norah. “I started up with virtually no money, which was really challenging,” said Norah. “I had to do everything on a shoestring and that meant that I had to learn to do everything by myself. That was initially the hardest part.”

Norah first reached out to the Boulder Small Business Development Center in May of 2015. She has since worked with consultants at the SBDC in regards to her budding business, specifically marketing.

“Before I even started my practice I went in to the SBDC and did some one-on-one consulting, which was great. We talked about basic finance, like recurring costs versus one-time costs, and all these things that I had never thought of. It helped me feel like I had the intelligence to run a business. I knew I had skills as an acupuncturist, but no business skills. The SBDC consulting team really showed me that I could do it.”

Even with some consultation, establishing yourself as a prominent and profitable business is a tough task, especially in the first couple of years. According to Norah, “When I eventually went into practice, the first year was very hard, but the first six months were particularly brutal. Sometime over that time period, [an SBDC staff member] called me and asked how I was doing. At the time I was really not doing well. I wasn’t going to fold my business, but I was worried I was going to run out of money.”

Norah continued, “But when he called out of the blue to just say, ‘hey, how are you, we’re here for you, and if you ever feel like you’re going to shut down your doors, please come talk to me before you do that,’ it was so powerful for me. When you’re a solo entrepreneur, you feel pretty alone so to have that lifeline, and to know that if I needed to shut my business I could call [and the SBDC] would find a way to help me, it was a big deal.”

Norah now has a multitude of clients, and her business is growing. She is also a volunteer acupuncturist with the Colorado Acupuncture Medical Reserve Corps, offering acupuncture on-site to first responders and community members affected by natural disasters or catastrophic events. She continues to be ambitious and has serious aspirations to expand her practice and impact on the community.

“I have a pretty big vision for my business. For the business itself, I hope that it thrives and continues to serve seniors in Boulder, but my real larger vision for what I’m doing is that, in my profession, there is not a lot of specialization, and specifically there are very few people who focus their practices on seniors. I feel like this is an underserved population that can benefit from what I do. My plan is to get the skills I need, and then help train other acupuncturists to work in eldercare.”

Norah’s focus and dedication coupled with her ambition and readiness to reach out to the Boulder SBDC has enabled her successful business.

Icebox Knitting

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AOW Handmade

Annie Oakley Waterman is an entrepreneur and owner of AOW Handmade. AOW Handmade, founded in 2015, is a unique business that connects artisan enterprisers from all over the developing world to buyers in the United States. Whether it is textiles, silver, brass, paper maché or other materials, Annie seeks out socially responsible producers and helps them to sell their products to the western world. Annie’s favorite places to find her goods are in Mexico and

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Grasshaven Outdoor

The media has called her the “Martha Stewart of Camping” and it is a title she proudly wears. Dawn Bitz, founder and majority owner of Grasshaven Outdoor is in business to bring sophistication, style and comfort into our time outdoors through stylish outdoor camping equipment, unique RV housewares and general outdoor fun products. Grasshaven Outdoor also strives to deliver a wealth of great ideas and outdoor recipes. Dawn got her inspiration when, as a busy

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Art Parts Creative Reuse Center

The nonprofit world can be difficult to enter, so when Denise Perreault was in the beginning stages of starting her own nonprofit, Art Parts, she looked to the Boulder Small Business Development Center for guidance. The SBDC helped Denise and her co-founders figure out the most crucial aspects of their new business. “In our four-year founding and planning phase, the most daunting task was setting a realistic budget, as we had no experience there. The

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Sante Fe Coffee and Burrito Company

Arturo Maestas launched the Santa Fe Coffee and Burrito Company, in Longmont, CO, on April 11, 2011. Santa Fe Coffee and Burrito Company is a Spanish and Southwest restaurant with a diverse menu, featuring both Spanish and American style dishes. Arturo has relatives in Albuquerque, NM and sought to bring the ambiance of Santa Fe, NM, to Longmont, CO. Arturo remodeled the entire restaurant with the help of few family members and friends. The beautiful

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ERC Insulation

ERC Insulation is a local, majority woman-owned and operated business based in Boulder, Colorado, serving Boulder, Denver, Jefferson, Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin Counties. The story surrounding the formation of ERC Insulation began in 2006, when Elton and Christine Randall formed Elton Construction and Design. Elton had difficulty finding a spray foam contractor for his jobs, so he sought a solution to this problem. Elton purchased a trailer with a spray foam reactor, which he could

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