Monday, February 1, 2016

Yakima small business chooses to switch gears, slow growth

Recently I was interviewed by the Yakima Herald Republic as my colleague in Yakima was out of town and I am covering her calls.  It was a pleasant surprise to hear the voice of a reporter I knew well from my time there.  Mai Hoang started Shop Talk about five years ago and I've continued to follow the business news even though I moved out of town.

Copper Pot Caramels
She was writing a story about Copper Pot Caramels, a Yakima area sensation for homemade caramel candies. The company was honored to win a Martha Stewart contest yet is now faced with not being able to sustain current levels of quality and quantity.  

Both owners work full-time in other jobs and were running the business on the side, yet the side business was as demanding as their day jobs. They had recently announced via social media that all sales would cease and they would hold special events or pop-up stores.

It was particularly interesting because Mai was really trying to drill down to how one can determine if an existing business is sustainable or not.  I kept coming back to two key points - knowing their finances and being able to work on the business, not just in it. Even those can't guarantee success.  

Tammy Everts, a business adviser for the Small Business Development Center in Spokane, said it’s not unusual for a small business to scale back, even if it is doing  well. “I think it’s wise when business owners do that,” said Everts, who worked with small businesses in the Yakima Valley in her former role with New Vision, Yakima County’s economic development arm. “It lets them look at where their passion is and what they’re doing well or what’s not working.”

This is a common Catch 22 for small business owners - see the business grow and give up some control or scale back to almost nothing.

I hope they are able to work on a strategy that allows them to keep the integrity of the product and maintain a healthy work-life balance.  Also, because I really love caramel and want to try the sauce.

Read the full article.