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The Small Business War Stories Podcast

Small businesses are the soul of America. This is where they tell their stories.

We want to showcase how our stories bind us; how America is more united than it sometimes feels.

Small Business War Stories is a weekly 30-45 minute show recorded in person with small business owners and operators. We discuss different topics and get the triumphs, struggles, and funny stories from our guests’ everyday lives.

Hosted by Pablo Fuentes, CEO and Founder of Proven, the leading small business hiring tool.

Latest Episodes

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On today’s episode we are joined by Bryan Deats of Fightforce, an amateur, semi-pro and professional mixed martial arts promotion company.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Barb Heinze of Merlin’s Hide Out, a shop that specializes in customized, handmade, real buffalo hide products.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Will Nowack and Ted Hansen, co-owners of The Bird, a fun bar and restaurant where you can enjoy the laid-back ambiance while having some great food.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Daven Lee, CEO & founder of Love and Leche, a company who hand-crafts lotion bars and soaps from local farm-fresh ingredients.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Joshua Gebreyes of Tibeb Leatherworks. Joshua is an architecture student interning from Ethiopia, who is crafting beautiful leather-bound journals and wallets using Ethiopian fabrics and prints.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Robert Keith of Beartooth Group, an investment group that connects people to the American West by running ranch investment funds, representing ranch buyers, and managing habitat restoration.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Derrick Montoya of 3D Kutz Barber Shop, Albuquerque's original and most exclusive MMA style barber shop.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Chas Marsh and Travis Goodman, founders of Jackson Hole Still Works, a distillery creating high quality grain-to-glass craft spirits.

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Today we are joined by Z Yang of Serenity Forge, a company that seeks to create meaningful video games that challenge the way you think.

Z Yang built his first computer when he was six years old and designed his first video game when he was 10. He was always interested in video game design, and when Z was 18 he was diagnosed with a rare disease that put him in the hospital for two years. Z says himself that video games saved his life, allowing him to feel successful and giving him a community filled with support.

Recognizing that video games helped him, he wondered what could be done if games were specifically designed to help the people playing them. This led to what is now Serenity Forge, a company creating video games for good.

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On this episode of Small Business War Stories, we are joined by Peter Sveen, founder of DIY Pete. His company creates content that helps others get inspired and learn to build projects.

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On this episode of Small Business War Stories, we are joined by Ashley Arabian, founder of Wanderer, a boutique and apothecary originally based out of in Taos, New Mexico. Ashley describes Wanderer as a boutique for the free-spirited woman, carrying jewelry, handbags, candles, trendy bohemian clothing, and more.

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On this episode of Small Business War Stories, we are joined by Dan Grissom of Biscuit Press, a company he started to become a full-time freelance illustrator and screen printer.

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On today’s flash episode we are joined by Ben Kniffen, President and COO of Linked Selling, and a leader of The Small Biz Forum on Linkedin.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Josh Stanton, co-founder of Screw the Nine to Five, where Josh helps people leave their nine-to-five jobs to start their own businesses.

Screw the Nine to Five started as a blog about being a lifestyle entrepreneur that gradually grew into a brand and business on its own. Screw the Nine to Five now helps people who want to run their own businesses to leave their desk jobs to chase the entrepreneurial dream.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Beate Chelette, the leader of The Entrepreneur and Small Business Forum on Linkedin, published author, trainer and business consultant.

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On today’s flash episode we are joined by Dave Hamilton, who co-hosts a podcast called The Small Business Show, as well as leads a small business support group online.

Dave has been podcasting for 13 years, so when his friend and long-time business partner Shannon Jean shared his idea for the Small Business Show, Dave loved it. They decided to focus on small businesses who are really working their hardest to turn their dreams into reality. The connections made through the podcast eventually led them to creating the online forum, where small business owners listen, support, and uplift one another.

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On this episode of Small Business War Stories, we are joined by Beau Hightower of Elite-OSM, a result driven clinic that is passionate about patient care.

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On this week’s episode we are joined by Scott Sanchez of JD High Country Outfitters, a one-stop shop for the great outdoors. They have everything from equipment, to rentals and guided tours!

Join us as Scott shares his business war stories from Jackson Hole, Wyoming!

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On this episode we are joined by Bill, Anna & Miles Wirtel of Santa Fe Stoneworks, a company that creates fine handcrafted stone inlay knives. Join us as we discuss family business, apprenticeship, and business war stories. 

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Today we are joined by Spencer Hirst, Co-founder of Western Range Clothing Company, a classic clothing company garnished with a bit of western.

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Today we are joined by Aaron Boyd of Tres Cuervos Leatherworks, a company that creates hand crafted practical goods using American leather, brass, and wood.

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Today we are joined Chris White, CEO and Co-founder of Shinesty, a company that creates outrageous clothing for theme parties, costume parties, and general ridiculousness.

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This week we are joined by Dayle Morningstar and Brandon Laird of Colorado Highland Helicopters, a family owned and operated business that provides flight instruction, search and rescue, photography and reconnaissance.

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On today’s episode we are joined by Jason McCarthy of GoRuck, an American brand with Special Forces roots that is aiming to change the world.

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Today we are joined by John Feins of Meow Wolf, a New Mexico based arts and entertainment group that established in 2008 as an art collective.

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Today we are joined by Dan Aggeler, co-founder of Durango Soda Company, the makers of Zuberfizz.

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Today we are joined by Mat Sorensen, a business attorney at KKOS Lawyers, a best-selling author, and a national speaker and expert on self-directed retirement accounts.

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Today we interview Lynne Milot, founder of Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppe, a toy store located in Boulder, Colorado.

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This week, we interview Michael Lyubimov of Jackson Wink MMA Academy. The academy has been around since 1992 and has grown into a world renowned and premier Mixed Martial Arts training academy. It is home to some of the best MMA fighters to ever grace the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

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Dana Gleason founded Mystery Ranch, a company that manufactures packs and load carriage systems for military, hunting, wildland fire and mountaineering customers.

Dana has been involved in the outdoor apparel and gear community for 43 years and is considered a legend in the industry. He began creating gear for climbing, backpacking, and skiing in 1975.

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On our last SXSW episode we interview Eric Waisman, the founding instructor of Jaunty, the school of social intelligence. Eric believes that human communication has been skewed by online interaction and strives to help people who are uncomfortable in face to face situations. 

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Today we interviewed Bay McLaughlin, the co-founder of Brinc, a company that helps founders build and launch connected hardware businesses. Bay currently lives in Hong Kong, China and has lived in many places while working with tech companies and small businesses.

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On this episode we are joined by Jim Bowes, CEO and co-founder of Manifesto Digital, an award winning London based digital agency. Jim was a speaker at SXSW this year, involved in the panel “The Best is Yet to Come: The Digital Renaissance.”

Check out Jim's podcast: Alexa STOP!

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On this episode we are joined by Kris Potrafka, founder of Music Firsthand, a live music booking app. Music Firsthand is a small business, technology startup, and is involved with music.  This company embodies everything that SXSW is all about.

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On this episode we are joined by five business leaders from Louisiana. We met at a crawfish boil put together by the city of Lafayette, Louisiana for SXSW. Today's guests are:

William Ness - LUS FIber

Jamie Nakamoto - Louisiana Economic Development

Destin Ortego - Opportunity Machine

Zach Hager - One Acadiana

Carrie Eggleston - CGI

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This week, we interview Brennah Rosenthal. She works with Mountain Standard, an apparel brand that sells outdoor gear and everything you need to survive a mountain lifestyle.

Mountain Standard has been in operation for 3 years and recently opened a store in Boulder, CO. They are striving to become a brand that releases new gear for every season of the year. 

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Jeremy Gregory and Chad Zeitner founded Montucky Cold Snacks, a light beer company with a focus on an outdoor lifestyle and community impact

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Vince Romano started his career in the dairy industry at a very young age. Aftet traveling throughout the world, Vince realized he wanted to do something that utilized the skill and heritage of the American workforce. 

With that, Truman Boot Co was born. Joining us from Boulder, Colorado, Vince Romano tells us the ins and outs of his business. 

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Robin Moore and Cebastien Rose, self-proclaimed "plant nerds" are seasoned foragers and farmers.

When they decided to leave their jobs and start their own business, they made a list of things they lived to do. 

When their list included being outdoors, being in the wild, spending time with their dogs, foraging, and being in nature- the direction of their business, Dryland Wilds, became second nature. 

Join us this week as we discuss distillation, enfleurage, maceration, essential oils, tinctures, concretes and absolutes and much, much more.

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Steve Jones founded Teton Gravity Research with his passion for action sports and technology. 

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This week, I had the pleasure of talking to John Lee Dumas. John is the founder and host of Entrepreneur on FIRE, an award winning podcast where he interviews entrepreneurs seven days a week. 

For this week's special FLASH episode, we were able to talk to John. Join us as he shares some of his best pieces of advice and wisdom from his experiences. 

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Tom and Carrie Dragt have been collectors of vintage pieces since they were kids. Opportunity struck when an old clothing store went out of business and Tom and Carrie bought some of their old inventory.

This led them to focus on vintage clothing.


They began selling out of their house and doing online sales, then moved to a store three years ago. They find pieces through traveling and utilize Instagram to show off their recent finds.
Tom and Carrie started Old Colorado Vintage, a store that brings together vintage clothing and articles.


This week on Small Business War Stories, Tom and Carrie join us from Durango, Colorado.

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At this year's Inbound conference in Boston, MA, we had the pleasure of meeting Strother Gaines. 

Strother Gaines is an entrepreneurial coach, a theater owner and a Unicorn, dammit!

Strother, fresh off his breakout session, How To Network Without Being An @sshole", gives us pointers on how to network comfortably, while remaining true to yourself. 

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Carla Nowicki's background as a young athlete alerted her to a problem facing many young athletes. 

Instead of encouraging athletes to be stronger or healthier, there was a constant emphasis on being smaller. The message was that being smaller was the key to being faster and "better" for these young athletes. 

Carla started Pursuit Nutrition, a performance solution for individuals looking to pursue their best selves. 

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Paulo Coelho Brandão comes from a city in Brazil called Manaus. Manaus is located in the middle of the Amazon jungle, accessible not by automobile, but only by airplane or boat. 

Known by many as ‘Coelho’, Paulo is a Black Belt World Champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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Killy Scheer always had a love for interior design. As a young child, she constantly found herself rearranging her bedroom. 

After working for a few design firms, both big and small, Killy decided she wanted to go out on her own. 

On this week's episode of Small Business war Stories, we join Killy to talk about her Austin-based boutique interior design firm, Scheer & Co. 

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Faced with a new year, you are probably reading about diet cleanses and all sorts of 30 day challenges to transform your body- and quick!

Tod Moore of Atomic Athlete started his "Fitness with a Purpose" approach with some rusty barbells out of the back of a truck in Austin, Texas. 

Rather than piggybacking on fad workouts, Tod Moore was more interested in identifying individual strengths and weaknesses, honing in on them and building out a sustainable physical fitness system.

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The Hotel Kitsmiller Main is a family-owned retro motor court built in the 1940s in the town of Fredericksburg, Texas.

Matt and Taylor Gutierrez met in Austin while they were both working in the corporate hotel world. Little did they know, they would be afforded the opportunity to run Taylor's family's longstanding business. 

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When Erik Axel Brunt began his apprenticeship at a tattoo shop, he thought he was only interested in doing body piercings. 

However, once Erik began apprenticing on a weekly basis, he found himself interested in the tattoo art surrounding him. Being around the art and seeing tattoos done on a daily basis, Erik began envisioning the tattoos he would eventually create.

Now, Erik works out of Triple Crown Tattoo in Austin, Texas.

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In the break room at his old job, Damien Reyes suddenly found himself in an early midlife crisis. Faced with the dilemma of the future spread out before him, Damien decided to make a change. 

He began his journey at a somewhat unlikely place for a retired truck driver in his late twenties: beauty school. And a few years later, Short Hair Company was born. 

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Kristy Brandabur received her degree in Exercise Science Sports Medicine, taught health and physical education for 11 years, and worked in a variety of fitness and wellness-related fields. 

At Metamorphosis Holistic Wellness Center, Kristi uses a blended technique of physical therapy, mental therapy and holistic approaches like massage and acupuncture. 

This week Kristi brings us into her world.

Three reasons to tune in this week:

  • Learn what the EFT or emotional freedom technique is and how Kristy administers it to her clients. 
  • Learn how Kristy balances medical recommendations with physical and mental training. 
  • Learn about the healing and transformative powers of essential oils. 
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Josh Harcus, chairman at Huify and bestselling author of A Closing Culture, joins us this week four our inaugural Flash Episode of Small Business War Stories. 

This week, we discuss the art of business gifting, the best tactics and the perfect timing to gift your customers. 

Josh Harcus instructs us on how to gift thoughtfully and authentically to grow your business relationships. 

Three reasons to tune in this week:

  • How to give gifts that are thoughtful, lasting, and that people might not typically buy for themselves. 
  • How to think of the long-term value of a customer gift. 
  • Enter our contest to win a $100 "gifting" gift certificate to the best gift submission idea. 
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Tommy Talley came home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2011. After working for years in reality television in Los Angeles, Tommy launched and grew his production company, Tommy's TV, into a full production arsenal. 

Tommy's TV produces and creates stunning personalized videos that deliver key messages through the art of storytelling. 

This week Tommy talks about "Punk-ing" with Ashton Kutcher, the love of storytelling and about coming home to Louisiana. 

Three reasons to tune in this week:

  • Learn how to use the fundamentals of storytelling to tell a story in an interesting and communicative way.
  • Learn about the best places to fit your video content and what, in today's standards, constitutes a "too long" video. 
  • Take a stroll down memory lane, as Tommy and Pablo discuss the finest of reality tv (ahem Jersey Shore) from the late aughts. 
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When Phil Angotti and his two guitar-loving coworkers left their jobs at a huge guitar store, they opened their own business in the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago. 

Avenue N guitars was founded with an overflowing knowledge and passion for guitars, especially of the vintage variety. 

This week on Small Business War Stories, Phil talks about music, Wicker Park and the fine workmanship of classic guitars. 

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The New Roxy in Clarksdale, Mississippi was built in the 1940's but sat vacant for 30 years until a merchant marine from Seattle named Robin Colonas purchased it in 2008.

Robin had been visiting Mississippi off and on for a while, and something about Clarksdale really grabbed a hold of her. 

At the time, Robin had no plan for the building other than to try to protect it. It was just an expensive hobby.

However, today, the New Roxy is a successful art, music and theater venue. 

This is Robin's incredible story about transforming the New Roxy into a new opportunity for the Clarksdale community.

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When Jeff Pearson started his Play N Trade video game store in Lafayette, LA, Play N Trade was a successful franchise with 750 stores nationwide.

A few years later, after the original founder retired, the company went through three CEOs and essentially collapsed.

However, Jeff's store is still going. He even has plans to open a second one.

How did Jeff's version of Play N Trade survive? What makes him different?

This week we get the whole story from Jeff. 

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Letterpress printing dates back to the 1400s and was the primary method of print until the mid-20th century.

Offset printing took over and now digital printing dominates the print world. However, recently letterpress has had a revival as an artisan printing form.

In Louisville, Kentucky, Patrick Masterson is helping to keep this print form alive with his print shop. He believes that this is how typography is meant to be printed, it adds dimension and feels great in your hand.

We get into this and whole lot more on this week's episode of Small Business War Stories.

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The American Dream is closely tied to entrepreneurship. The notion that someone, regardless of their background, can work hard, make a better product or invent something completely new, and become whatever they want, is fundamentally American.

Many businesses fail. But perhaps one of the most frustrating reasons for failure is dealing with excessive regulations.

This week on Small Business War Stories, we sit down with JoAnn Prosser to discuss her battle with regulations when opening a raw food cafe in Lexington, Kentucky.

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Just over 5 years ago, David Swider was lamenting with a friend about how they wished there was a good record store in their hometown of Oxford, Mississippi.

Finally, they asked themselves, "Why don't we do it?". 

This simple idea led to the creation of the independent record store The End of All Music.

Now, 5 years later, the business is stronger than ever and David is working his dream job.

This week on Small Business War Stories, we sit down with David to talk about how he has managed to make an independent record store not only succeed but thrive. 

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Embrace community. Serve others. Create culture.

These are the words you will find on the walls of a coffee shop in Lexington, Kentucky.

A Cup of Common Wealth is doing what the biggest and best companies in the world aspire to do, create an amazing culture. 

A great culture not only inspires your workforce, but helps to promote your brand.

A company's culture goes beyond their benefits and is not something that employees bring with them. It must be set by the founders of the business and it is reflective in the vision, beliefs and values of the organization.

We were lucky to speak with Sal Sanchez, founder of A Cup of Common Wealth, about how they think about culture and how that has helped the growth and success of their business.

This week on Small Business War Stories, Sal Sanchez of A Cup of Common Wealth Coffee.

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Caroline Cook was a stay at home mother with three children (now four) when she decided to venture back into the workforce and become a real estate agent.

The initial stage for this career change was tough. She was pregnant with her fourth child and attempting to sell $4 million worth of property during a down market in 2009.

However, she not only persevered, but thrived.

She still loves what she does and besides somehow managing to raise four children while working full time, she had time to write a book about her ministry involvement in Haiti.

Carol is an amazing woman and we are excited to have her as today's guest on Small Business War Stories.

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In 1969, a former coffin show room located at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Albama was converted into the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

Huge names in music like the Rolling Stones, Cher, Bob Seger, Lynrd Skynrd and many more recorded songs and albums within its' walls.

Only a decade later, in 1979, the studio would close.

Following a documentary titled Muscle Schoals in 2013, interest was peaked in restoring the forgotten building. 

Today, on Small Business War Stories, we talk to Andrew Kelly of the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation about how they helped restore this building to help establish an iconic music museum.

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There has been an explosion in growth of the craft beer market over the past 10 years. Today, there are more than 5,300 breweries in operation in the U.S., up from just 2,000 in 2011.

That means breweries have grown 21% annually since 2011!

However, after 8 years of double digit market growth, in 2016, the craft beer volume fell to just 6% year of year growth.

What does this mean for the craft brewery market? Is it time to panic or is this just a sign of the industry growing up? Have we reached a saturation point?

We sat down with Mike Raspatello, founder of October, a beer magazine and website, to discuss where he thinks the craft brew industry is going. 

This and much more in today's episode of Small Business War Stories.

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We often underestimate the impact that a small business can have on their community while in reality, small businesses are the main driver of job creation in the United States.

One small business has less impact than a major corporation, but as a whole, small businesses create more jobs, create a positive atmosphere within their communities, and create local role models for kids to look up to.

One coffee shop in Clarksdale, Mississippi is a perfect example of such a business.

Cali Noland and Ben Lewis of Meraki Roasting Company have combined their passions for education, community and business to use their local coffee shop to help teach kids necessary job skills. 

With a poverty rate of 40% in Clarksdale, this program is filling an extremely important need for this community. These kids are learning necessary soft skills like time management, that will ultimately help them secure and keep a job in the future.

We get into this program and much more in the latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

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Great business people are able to adapt, think on their feet, speak and captivate an audience, and collaborate and communicate with a variety of people in a variety of situations.

These also happen to be the exact types of skills you learn in improv.

Improv training is fantastic business training. The skills necessary to stand on stage and improvise any topic thrown at you, is an extremely transferable skill to business.

Jonas Koffler of the improv and training group Four Day Weekend, has been helping businesses learn these skills for the past 20 years. What started as a limited six week run at a local theatre, has grown into a 20 year successful business where the group has now worked the who's who of Fortune 500 companies, toured with the USO, and performed for two different U.S. presidents.

We were lucky to sit down with Jonas Koffler, and get his story, company background and advice as part of Small Business War Stories.

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Starting a photography business is simple, but making it successful and profitable is a real challenge.

Between existing full-time photographers and those doing it as a secondary part-time job, there's a tremendous amount of competition in the market.

But many photographers have managed to succeed by carving out a niche and building a sustainable lucrative business.

We spoke with Dan Mitchell about his journey from budding school teacher to full-time music and events photographer.

His modest beginnings started with uploading a video he created with his cellphone of a friend's open mic performance. That was compelling enough to be contacted about the possibility of making money from creating similar content.

Fast forward to today, and this self-taught photographer has built a growing business specializing in music, portraits and special event photography.

We are excited to share with you our interview with Dan in today's episode of Small Business War Stories.

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The Shack Up Inn embodies the intersection between music and cultural tourism.

A stay at one of their sharecropper shacks immediately immerses you in the history of plantation life while also immersing you in the live music scene at the birth place of the blues.

The Shack Up Inn started nearly 20 years ago as a single sharecropper shack on a plantation in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Tourists interested in seeing what a plantation looked like started asking about renting the shack.

Fast forward to today, The Shack Up Inn has 19 shacks, can accommodate over 100 people, and has its own live music venue that has featured legends such as Robert Plant, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello.

In today's episode of Small Business War Stories, we spoke with Guy Malvezzi to learn how they got their start, why music tourism and much more.

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Claire Flowers was in software sales and after years of suffering through poorly made shoes that would get caught in sidewalk grates and fall apart weeks after buying, she was inspired to design her own shoe.

Now, it turns out, getting someone to manufacture a single shoe is not so simple. It's not like getting a tailored suit. Large manufacturers have no interest in doing one-off business like that and no one overseas will do it.

This is what inspired Claire to start Claire Flowers Shoes. She wanted a woman's shoe that feel like a Nike, looks like a Jimmy Choo, and wears like a work boot.

We sat down with Claire to talk about how she went from idea to full fledged business and much more in this latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

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In the early 90s, Mark Baier was working as a stockbroker, playing music for fun. Having finally made enough money for the first time to buy new music equipment, Mark excitedly purchased a brand new amp.

He was unfortunately disappointed. The new amp didn't sound anything like his old second hand amp.

After comparing the electronics between his old and new amps, he realized that in order to have a new amp that sounded like his old amp, he'd need to build it himself.

Knowing nothing about electronics, he taught himself 1960s electronics via his local library and then went to work.

This incredible story was the modest beginnings of Victoria Amps. We get Mark's full story and much more on the latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

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Like many entrepreneurs, Mike Dalle Molle and Jordan Gurren started out working for someone else. 

Although they loved the work, they felt like there was not a lot of creative freedom. They had to do what they were told.

After receiving a lucky break where a local restaurant asked them to design a shelving unit, which led to designing an entire restaurant, they leapt at the chance to start their own custom furniture business.

They were only 23 and 24 years-old at the time. 

Now, less than three years later, they have a 6,500 square foot facility with 8 people on staff, cranking out amazing furniture every day.

For such young men, they have a lot of perspective and a ton of drive.

On this latest episode of Small Business War Stories, we take a deep dive into how they got their start, how they learned and adapted along the way, and what the future holds for Goodwood NOLA.

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Brooke Worthington got her start in the jewelry-making business after first creating pieces for her friends and family as a creative outlet.

Others took notice and she started selling her custom-made jewelry at a local store in Nashville. One thing led and another, and her business started to grow.

Recently, she opened her own retail store in Nashville, where she sells both her own works and an assortment of curated items from other lines.

What began as a hobby is now a thriving business. 

In this episode of Small Business War Stories, we talk with Brooke about how she got her start in the jewelry business, and how she continues to evolve and learn.

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St. Louis is a BBQ town.

Outside of St. Louis, what we know as "St. Louis Barbeque", is a pork spare rib cut where the ends of the ribs are trimmed so they're all the same length.

However, within St. Louis, BBQ is much more than just a cut of pork. 

We take a deep dive into the St. Louis BBQ Tradition with owner and operator of Pappy's Smokehouse, John Matthews.

Pappy's Smokehouse was started over 9 years ago and now has multiple locations and lines out the door. What started as John, his business partner and 3 employees, has now grown into a 50-plus person operation.

We speak with John about how he started, how he hires, markets and much more on the latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

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Matt Eich knew he wanted to be a guitar maker. 

After attending guitar-making school, he worked various factory and manufacturing jobs for 10 years before he was able to start Mule Resophonic Guitars, a custom handmade resonator guitar business based in Saginaw, Michigan.

Everyday, for 5 years, he started work at 6:30am. Get up, do the work, learn, rinse and repeat.

He had to make a lot of mistakes along the way and have incredible discipline to get to where Mule is today with a 12-month customer backlog.

For him, building a guitar for someone is a personal experience. The customer is involved in every step along the way. People who buy a Mule aren't simply purchasing a thing, Matt and his team are putting their soul into the guitar's creation and connecting the consumer with their art.

This is their passion and their story. This and more on the latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

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There are a ton of benefits to urban farming. 

Local food, farm to table, 100 mile diet, all of this is possible with urban agriculture. Further, urban gardens are often built over abandoned spaces in cities, converting them into green space, helping increase the beauty and value of the neighborhood.

However, there are also many challenges with urban farming. There's potential contaminants from city water runoff, zoning laws that must be overcome, laws about owning chickens, bees, and other farm animals, as well as major space constraints.

We get into all this and more on the latest episode of Small Business War Stories featuring Mel Millsap of Urban Roots Farm.

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CD and digital sales are declining as music lovers turn to streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, yet vinyl records sales have grown 260% since 2009.

We are in the midst of a vinyl revival.

Third Man Records, a record label founded by musician Jack White, has been on the ground floor of this renewed interest in vinyl. 

Vinyl, more than any other medium, has a timeless appeal, it's tactile. Ben Blackwell of Third Man Records, says that people have a strong connection to what vinyl means in their lives, it's a lifestyle. 

To help us dig further into why people have started buying vinyl again, the background of Third Man Records, we spoke with Ben Blackwell, who shared some amazing stories in today's edition of Small Business War Stories.

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Small businesses can give a lot to a community and in turn, those communities help support those businesses.

Community involvement helps further distinguish your business from competitors and helps create customer loyalty.

At Mother's Brewing Company in Springfield, Missouri, owner and operator Jeff Schrag sees it as their responsibility to the community to help local non-profits move further with their missions.

By donating free beer to various fundraising events and charities, Mother's has established itself as a community-minded brewery. They hate to say no to anyone and this unique perspective paired with a fantastic product has helped Mother's establish itself as a must-visit location for beer lovers.

Today, we are happy to share with you our interview with Jeff Schrag of Mother's Brewing Company's as the latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

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Many of us dream of ditching our desk jobs in favor of a workshop. Working with our hands, crafting something out of wood or some other material. Something physical, something real.

Seth Lee Jones worked at Whole Foods for 6 years while on the side building up his business as a guitar maker. Eventually he had to leave his day job because he had enough people beating down his door with requests for guitar work.

He now builds builds 25 to 30 custom instruments a year and a handful of acoustic guitars.

The journey to becoming a full time luthier or guitar maker, is not an easy one.

Today, we are happy to share with you Seth Lee Jones's story as the latest episode of Small Business War Stories.

Show Notes

Nearly a quarter of the U.S. population consists of people under the age of 18.

Kids, more than any time in our history, are influencing the spend of household income. Kids influence an estimated $500 billion in household spending.

Further, spend on kids products is growing rapidly. Products targeting children between the ages of 4 and 12 are now responsible for $40 billion in revenue.

Children and their parents are savvy consumers and there's great opportunities for those entrepreneurs looking to build a kid-focused business. To help us explore this topic further, we spoke with Maggie Tucker of Magpies Baby and Magpies Girl to discuss how she has built two successful kid-focused retail businesses.

Show Notes

There's something special about vinyl records.

The feel, smell, look and sound all seem richer and more authentic than digital music.

In 2016, stores sold 13 million records, the highest volume of vinyl sales in the past three decades. We are in the midst of a vinyl revival.

Vinyl record pressing companies can barely keep up with the demand. Most pressing companies are relying on restored equipment from the 70s and 80s, which is slow and error prone.

However, Hand Drawn Records is modernizing this process. They are using the first pieces of modern technology designed for record pressing. Their presses are controlled by computers, reducing error rate and speeding up the pressing process 3x. 

Today, on Small Business War Stories, we are joined by John Snodgrass from Hand Drawn Records to discuss how they are revolutionizing the vinyl pressing industry.

Show Notes

Selling to small businesses is different than selling to large corporations or consumers.

A small business has a unique set of needs.

These businesses do not have purchasing experts on staff or vendor managers whose sole responsibility is to make deals happen. Instead, the decision maker at a small business is typically wearing many hats and hearing your sales pitch might be a stretch for them.

The good news is that with small businesses, a lot of the time the sales cycle will be much shorter. There are fewer people involved with the decision and less red tape to work through. 

However, establishing trust is extremely important. Small business owners can be loyal to a fault. Also, while the majority of businesses in the U.S. are small businesses, sourcing and reaching this long tail of potential customers in a cost-effective way can be very difficult. 

To help us dive into the secrets of marketing and selling to small businesses, we talked with Alison Burns founder of Precision Payments. Her company has been successfully selling their credit card processing and merchant services to small business since 2013.

Show Notes

Nearly 100 years ago, Detroit was poised to become a major American industrial city. Cars, new factories and an eager workforce helped put Detroit on the map.

A lot has changed since the early 20th century.

After some very rough years, small businesses are helping to restore economic viability and community in Detroit. The once booming factory scene is being replaced by a booming small business scene.

We are very lucky to have spoken with one such small business owner, Alicia George, owner and operator of Motor City Java House.

She began working with Motor City Blight Busters 17 years ago to help revitalize and develop commercial destinations in her neighborhood in Detroit.

In 2003, inspired by the idea of having a local community coffee shop, she started work on opening Motor City Java House. It took over five years to open, relying on the help of volunteers and the local community to help raise money for renovations.

She would raise money, then do work and then have to stop. But her patience paid off, she's now operating a thriving business with no debt and is an amazing example and a positive influence for her neighborhood. 

Show Notes

Brand marketing and storytelling are essential components to creating a great company brand that will grab people's attention.

With the growth and adoption of technology, we have more potential mediums than ever to reach people with our brands.

However, the downside is there's a ton of competition and we really only have about 10 seconds to grab someone's attention.

Our stories need to be concise. Effective storytelling is about staying out the way, being authentic, being patient and keeping it simple.

Today, on Small Business War Stories, we talked with David Rice from Flow Nonfiction about how he helps big brands tell stories of their philanthropic work in a way that does not feel contrived.

 

Show Notes

In 1985 David Williamson and his brother were struggling to make their used car sales business work.

After failing to sell a 1947 Dodge pickup truck multiple times, even going as far as to offer it for as little as $300, they got the bright idea of trying to sell just parts from the truck.

They listed an ad for truck parts in a motor news magazine, and what had been an impossible vehicle to sell, became a hot commodity. They ended up selling parts from that old truck for $3,000 and realized there was a lot of money in just selling parts.

Those were the modest beginnings of CTC Auto Ranch; now they are one of largest classic car junkyards in the country. Starting with just 80 cars, they now have over 4,000 classic cars and sell parts all over the world.

Today, on Small Business War Stories, we talked with David Williamson from CTC Auto Ranch about his start and success in the classic car junkyard business.

Show Notes

Lots of people dream of leaving their day job to turn their hobby into a full-time career.

We spend much of our lives at work, so why not do something that we love?

With families, mortgages and other bills and responsibilities to consider, it can be a very tough decision to make and one that perhaps is not realistic for everyone.

Today, on Small Business War Stories, we talk with Celeste Austin of Savvyroot, who left her career in the dental industry after 8 years to start a designer handbag company. 

She started the company as a side business after she taught herself to sew. She would work from 7 AM to 3 PM at her regular job and then work until 5am on her side business in order to fill orders.

It's an incredible and inspiring story that takes a ton of guts to pull off, but in Celeste's own words, her original career "didn't give her life."

Show Notes

Imagine this.

You’re super excited. You’re following your dream, starting a company and launching a product that you are thrilled about. You’ve raised money, have customers lined up, a website built, and everything is lined up to build a great company.

Then, 18 hours after you launch, you get hit with a cease and desist letter.

What do you do?

This is exactly what happened to Henge Docks, a company that designs and manufactures high-end Apple accessories. To find out how they managed to survive this ordeal, we spoke with Matt Vroom, founder of Henge Docks, about how he coped with receiving a patent lawsuit within the first 24 hours of operating as a business.

It's an amazing story and one we are excited to share.

Show Notes

Let's face it.

Small business hiring can be a real pain.

As business owners, we have 500 things to do each day with only 24 hours available to get them done. Dealing with finding new employees can be a real drag on top of your regular work load.

Small businesses often lack the bells and whistles available to larger entities. We can sometimes get ourselves into trouble with not having a standardized hiring process or not being well versed in HR law.

To help sort out some of these issues, today on Small Business War Stories, we talk with HR extraordinaire Jessica Miller-Merrell of Workology. We discuss the bare minimum you should be doing to hire effectively as a small business owner, what pitfalls you should be aware of, hiring contractors versus full time and much much more.

Show Notes

Recently, there's also been a renewed interest and fascination with analog media. Young people are rediscovering vinyl records, cassette tapes, and even typewriters.

But even outside of those interested in antiques and nostalgia of a past era, typewriters are still more widely used than you might think. 

The New York Police Department still relies heavily on typewriters. There's also those of us that prefer the limits imposed by a typerwriter. You're not going to accidentally press a button and send a document to your entire company on a typewriter. No one can hack into your typewriter and steal your private information. 

But typewriters are complex works of art and as such, they need maintenance and repair. Yet the number of people with the knowledge, skills and desire to fix these machines is rapidly dwindling.

To dive deeper into the dying art of typerwriter repair, today, on Small Business War Stories, we talk with Steve Munoz from Duncan Munoz Business Machines, the last surviving typewriter repair person in Central Texas.

Show Notes

The fitness industry is exploding.

One in five Americans are heading to the gym or at least have a gym membership. Fitness trends like Crossfit, Soul Cycle, pilates and yoga are now mainstream and available in most cities.

More and more folks are quitting their 9 to 5 and chasing their passions by jumping full steam into the fitness industry.

However, starting a gym is not just about passion. The bottom line is, it's still a business and most small businesses fail within the first 18 months.

How do you insure that your gym succeeds and does not become a statistic?

Can you turn your passion into a financial success?

To help us answer these questions (and more), we talked to Brian Hassan of Flagship Athletic Performance, a successful gym enterprise in San Francisco. Brian has succeeded by combining his business background with his passion for fitness and he has tons of awesome advice for anyone flirting with the idea of opening a gym.

Show Notes

Let's face it:

There are a ton of challenges with starting a business, especially if you have never done it before.

That's why having a business parnter with complimentary skills can be so helpful. Someone to help you stay focused, bounce ideas off of and ultimately shoulder the load.

However, what happens when that business parntership fails? Can you stay friends? How do you dissolve a business partnership peacefully?

To explore these questions, we talked with Joe Mellin, who use to actually be my original business partner.

We met each other when we were both grad students and then started a company together. That company would eventually become Proven.

We broke up as co-founders a couple years after that. We are still friends to this day.

On today's episode of Small Business War Stories, find out first hand how and why our business partnership came to an end and how we remained friends.

 

Show Notes

For those of us that grew up in the 90s, it's hard to talk about making soap and not think about Brad Pitt's role as Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club.

However, that's the perfect setup for today's episode of Small Business War Stories.

We talked with Chris Cabiya, of Zen Soap, who is also a practitioner of Jiu-Jitsu. Chris is now in his second year of operation as a small business owner. 

Chris combines his passion for Jiu-Jitsu, a vegetarian diet, and his concern for the environment to create a high quality sustainable soap products.

We talked to Chris about how he got into the soap making business, why sustainability is important to him, and what advice he has for anyone starting a new venture.

Show Notes

There's a growing demand for massage therapy as more and more of the general public have accepted that massages help improve overall health.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the growth rate of massage therapist will be 19% through 2018.

Although a tremendous amount of both classroom and real world training goes into become a licensed massage therapist, there is not a lot of training about how to start your own massage busines and how to make it a success. 

Being a great therapist does not necessarily translate directly to being a great business owner.

To help us dissect the ins and outs of starting a massage business, on today's episode of Small Business War Stories we talk with Kyra Gerhard of Mantis Massage.

Show Notes

Since the 1990s the music industry has changed dramatically. Free downloading services in the late 90s, like Napster, were considered a dangerous threat to the music business.

In many ways, to survive, the music industry has had to reinvent itself. Services like Spotify and SoundCloud help people discover new music and helps unknown artists get their music heard.

The Internet has also had a dramatic effect on the retail side of the business. Budding musicians can now turn to online sites to purchase musical instruments.

With these rapid changes in the music business, how can a musical instrument store prosper? How can you make money as a performer in this new digital age? Ultimately, how you can make a living in the modern music business?

In today’s episode of Small Business War Stories we tackle these challenging questions and more with Nick Boettcher from Austin Vintage Guitars and performer in band The Reverent Few.

Show Notes

Having brand recognition can be hugely powerful, but when reviving a once iconic name, it can actually be a challenge and uphill battle to change built-in perception.

Antone's, a once famous blues club in Austin, Texas has gone through six different business iterations and was even closed for two years after being open every day for 38 years. 

However, Antone's is once again becoming a destination location for visitors of Austin and a place many musicians desire to play. 

In today's episode of Small Business War Stories, we walk with Will Bridges of Antone's about how they have been able to revive this amazing and iconic brand.

Show Notes

There are over 21 million college students in the U.S.

Generation Y (or Millennials) is the largest consumer group in U.S. history.

Despite the demographic's size, people often dismiss college students as not having money or they market to them like any other segment of the market.

However, students spend up to $30 billion on college back-to-school purchasing alone. There are huge opportunities for entrepreneurs who know how to reach this generation.

But how do you market to this young tech-savy generation that has grown up with smartphones and everything available on-demand?

To answer this question, we talked with Dean Ginsberg, founder of two successful companies, BinStored and ShuttleHome, that market directly to college students.

In today's episode of Small Business War Stories, we explore how to market to college students and much more with Dean Ginsberg.

Show Notes

Social entrepreneurship can be difficult to define.

There are also many misconceptions when it comes to social enterprises. 

People think that a company with a social mission can't be as successful as a purely for-profit business. 

However, Andrew Horn, Founder of Tribute, a socially conscious company that helps people build video tributes for their friends and family, believes this is simply not true.

He defines social entrepreneurship as a business with a dual or triple business goal, a balance between people, profit and the planet. A social entrepreneur strives to build businesses that are not only profitable, but have genuine impact on people's lives.

In today's episode of Small Business War Stories, we explore this topic and more with Tribute CEO and founder Andrew Horn.

Show Notes

We talk to Paul Hedrick, founder of Tecovas. Tecovas is unique in that they do not sell through third party stores, but rather directly to consumers. This helps them make a high quality product and sell it for a fraction of the price of other boot companies.

Paul talks about the struggles of running a manufacturing company, and also about how cool it was to sell boots at Willie Nelson's ranch.

If Lyle Lovett is listening...a free pair of boots is waiting for you!

Show Notes

Want to know how to build an iconic brand with no paid advertising?

Want to know what happens in the Carnival of Pizza?

Curious as to which celebrity was caught in a compromising position in the Home Slice Pizza bathroom?

This and more in the first episode of Small Business War Stories. Small Businesses are the Soul of America. This is where they tell their stories.

Soul of America II : The Tour

After having covered 3,800 miles in April of 2017, he wanted more…

So, he packed up the car and in the month of October 2017, Pablo hit the road with his puppy Muddy Waggers, his guitar, and his podcasting equipment. He covered over 4,000 miles and recorded 31 podcast episodes with small business owners throughout the heart of America.

This time around the itinerary was: Austin, TX; Denver, CO; Bozeman, MT; Jackson, MT; Durango, CO; Santa Fe, NM; Albuquerque, NM & home to Texas once again.

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The Soul of America II Tour is Sponsored by Freshbooks:

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Interested in Being a Guest?

Are you a small business owner, manager, or operator who wants to be interviewed and featured on Small Business War Stories as well as the Proven blog?

If so, please contact us at podcast@proven.com.

Let us know a little bit about your business, where you are located and why you are interested in appearing as a guest.

 

Pablo Fuentes

Pablo Fuentes is the CEO of Proven. He is a graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and UCLA. He is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and a blues guitar player and builder.

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