Romeo Cruz ProfileSilver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce Director Romeo Cruz will provide a weekly column to the Beat, featuring items and announcements of interest to the community.

We Made Turquoise!

I don't know about you, but it seemed like we were never going to get to the top of the Red-to-Green Framework. You all worked hard and did everything that was asked of you, during the pandemic, to make sure our communities were safe and COVID-19 free. You shopped local, you shifted to curbside take out and had your food delivered to your home. You were patient as local businesses made changes to their operations which made it easier to do business with them. Now, thanks to your hard work, we made it to turquoise and we are on the verge of being open again for business.

As we move closer to opening it is exciting to see all of the work being done to reintegrate ourselves into society. Most businesses are staffing up in anticipation of our town reopening, although they are having a difficult time finding employees to fill the open positions. Restaurants are finalizing their summer menus, retailers are restocking their shelves and, all over town, plans are being made for our grand reopening!

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Happy Small Business Day

How befitting of Small Business Week would it be if I wrote about the greatest offering for small business to come to Grant County in the last hundred years? According to SBA.gov, for more than 50 years, the US Small Business Administration has celebrated National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America's entrepreneurs and small business owners.

In 2008 Co-Starters began as part of a five-year revitalization effort, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was then called CreateHere. The program was started to provide business support to artists, creatives and others who didn't fit traditional start up models. In response to an outpouring of positive support, the program adapted existing business planning resources to serve groups of people interested in launching, or refining, creative businesses. Since the inception of Co-Starters, they have served more than 280 communities, supported nearly 16,000 entrepreneurs (starters) and supported more than 1000 leaders (facilitators.) In Southwest New Mexico, 33 Grant County residents have completed the Core entrepreneurship program. Of those who have completed the program, 21 are currently in operation with the business on which they were focused. Four cohorts have been held since July 2020; the current cohort was complete as of May 5, 2021. I'm happy to report that there are two cohorts yet to happen in Grant County—one in Silver City, this summer, and one in Bayard in the Fall. If you are interested in getting involved reach out to Jamie Karolich at SWNMACT.org for more information.

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Everything I know about business, I learned in Marching Band.

Quick, close your eyes and think about your life for a minute. Think about the experiences you've had that have made you the person you are today. Can you tie anything about who you are, or what you value, to anything that currently drives you?

I was in my weekly Toastmasters meeting recently and one of our younger members asked me a question about my life and asked me to describe something that was inspirational to me in my life that still provides inspiration to me today. I looked back on my life and I quickly realized that one of the biggest influencers that I've had in my life has been my decision to get involved in music. Specifically, I look back on my time in Marching Band that has been a direct influence on my success in business.

The business world is a competitive place! We are constantly striving to sell our products to people who have a plethora of choices available to them. We are tasked with delivering a high-quality product and describing the qualities of our product that differentiate us from our competitors. As a company, or organization, we are mindful that our team is responsible for notifying the public about our goods and services and we work together as a team to project a quality image to our potential audiences. This doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't happen before a great deal of work and preparation is done. While marching band is typically an elective in school, I believe that it has been the foundation for most of my success in life.

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Turquoise, here we come!  

This week I am dedicating my words to the 3,955 New Mexicans whom we have lost to COVID-19. We stand together, in solidarity, to do whatever is necessary to heal our communities and avoid any additional deaths. If we continue to follow the COVID Safety Protocols, you will not have died in vain. In your memory, we remain hopeful!

We've been through so much lately! When COVID-19 came into our world it came in with a vengeance. It's safe to say that we were, pretty much, blind-sided with the global pandemic, the public health order and the lasting effects it has had on each of us. Although we have had other health emergencies in the last 20 years in our country, none have been as devastating as COVID-19 has been.

I'm hopeful that we will emerge from this crisis soon. Our community needs to put COVID-19 in our rearview mirrors as soon as possible. The recovery of our economy cannot fully begin until we are out of the danger zone. As a member of this community, a family person and as a businessperson I need to get beyond the pandemic as soon as possible.

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What's been going on during the past 12 months?

The last 12months have been a whirlwind of activity! Did you learn how to do things a little bit differently in 2020 than you have been used to doing them previous years? If you're like the rest of us you surely did.

During 2020 I wrote a great deal about the global pandemic and all of the issues that we had dealing with this new thing called COVID. Small business reinvented itself with new ways of serving their customers and many took my "Do You Innovate" article to heart and took their businesses to the next level. Local restaurants learned how to do curbside pickup and takeout as a way to serve their customers. Retailers learned about e-marketing and how to let their customers shop online via their websites.

Service businesses and nonprofits adopted a new meeting platform called Zoom and, for the most part, we embraced the platform with gusto. I, unwittingly, used Zoom so often that I was able to compare it to its competitors. Yes, Zoom has competitors. Did you use Zoom or did you use one of the alternatives? Cisco Webex, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype and Microsoft Teams are just a few of the most popular platforms out there right now. Although they are all good, in and of themselves, I must say that Microsoft Teams is the one that gave me the most trouble. I'm not a techie, or IT guru, so I just want something that is simple and easy to use. Something that I can click a button, or two, to get right into a meeting. By the way, ZOOM, is my favorite video meeting platform to use.

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Is it what you know or who you know?

Have you thought about starting a small business but you weren't sure that you knew all that you needed to know to be successful? If you have already started a small business, I'm sure there are areas where you still need a little help? Today my article talks about understanding that you may not know everything there is to know about business but you can still be successful. The trick is knowing what you don't know and getting help from experts who do.

As I've mentioned, in previous articles, the key to success in business is solving other people's problems. We start off on our entrepreneurship journey by solving problems for people and very soon we buy in to the notion that we have to be the masters of our universe. What I mean by this is that we begin thinking that we must know everything about everything involving our business. I'm here today to tell you that this is actually far from the truth.

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Ides of March, St. Patrick's Day and other "anniversaries"

Where were you when you got the order to shut down? I ask because, for the week, everywhere I turn I'm faced with "milestone" memories regarding COVID. People are talking about the COVID 19 and attributing to it one of the most comprehensive public health orders I've ever experienced.

I remember when the discussions started, last March, about this virus and how it was wreaking havoc on our country. I had already had a busy week at the Grant County Veteran's Memorial & Conference Center with meetings and activities and the busy part of the month hadn't even started yet. Like everyone else, I thought this was going to be a temporary closure. Oh, how I wish we had been right!

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To Be or Not to be – Afraid!

What is it that wakes you up at 5:30 in the morning? Besides my alarm, and its 3-snooze feature, I am awakened each day by the excitement of knowing that I will be able to work with YOU! I have often said that I sleep, eat and breathe Small Business and today I want to talk to you about what exactly that means.

I was having a conversation last week with some people and one of my friends was making a point about small business owners and how we think. I was excited to have somebody share their thoughts about the mindset of the small business owner because I have always had my own observations from my time in the field working with entrepreneurs and I was intrigued to learn that someone else shared my points of view.

Over the years I have learned that small business owners have similar characteristics to one another. Even though the differences in types of business vary so greatly the commonalities that link entrepreneurs are really what make them so fun to be around.

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