Support BiGAUSTIN This Holiday Season

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As 2015 rapidly draws to a close, many of us are looking forward  to the holiday season. It’s a time of meaningful reflection, festive holiday music (Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You will never get old!), and Starbucks holiday drinks. It’s also a time for enjoying good food, being with friends and family, and, if you’re anything like your friends at BiGAUSTIN, frenzied last-minute shopping. Why shop weeks in advance when you can spend Christmas Eve standing in long lines with the other procrastinators?

Whether we’re doing battle with tryptophan-addled shoppers over the last 60-inch televisions or avoiding the madness by shopping online, we do it because family and friends are special, and we want to show them what they mean to us by giving them something that they’ll love. Gift-giving is the hallmark of the holiday season, and we hope that you’ll consider supporting BiGAUSTIN with a gift this year.

BiGAUSTIN has helped over 30,000 Central Texas entrepreneurs in its twenty-year history, and we stand ready to help thousands more as we look ahead to helping aspiring entrepreneurs build their dreams in 2016. We have big things in store for the fifteen counties of Central Texas, and it’s going to be fantastic.

But,  we need your help in making it happen. BiG has established itself as a one-stop shop for would-be entrepreneurs, and  provides robust training programs, business plan development, individualized advising, and capital to our hard-working clients. We would not be able to support these entrepreneurs without the support of our extended BiGAUSTIN family.

Will you consider helping us help underserved entrepreneurs build their dreams? We serve over 4,000 people start or expand their small businesses, many of whom would not be able to realize their dreams without the resources we provide.

BiGAUSTIN is a 501-C(3) non-profit organization, so your donation is tax-deductible. And, if you’d rather donate your time, we would love to have you! If you’d like to do both, well, then you’re a rock star, and you deserve fresh-baked cookies. Or a big hug.

Please click here to donate to BiGAUSTIN. If you’d like to volunteer with us, please give us a call at 512-928-8010.

Again, we sincerely appreciate all of the support we’ve received, and hope that you’ll join us in helping Central Texas entrepreneurs realize their small business dreams.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and prosperous new year.

Sincerely,

 

The BiGAUSTIN staff

 

P.S. Here is a little something for us all to enjoy. Come on, who doesn’t love this song?

Client of the Month: Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More

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We are excited to announce our Client of the Month is Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More!  Dwight Miles opened their doors three years ago on August 9, 2011 and since then has continued to grow and add more services.  Not only do they have a hip and trendy store, they make sure they are having fun while providing outstanding customer service.  They offer 24 hour turnaround on in-stock items, volume discounts, free design and setup, and unlimited colors!  Seriously, how can you beat FREE design and setup?  If you are anything like me, designing a t-shirt does not come easily!

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Owner Dwight Miles found out about BiGAUSTIN from a friend of the family and after over 20 years working in the corporate world he decided to make the jump into entrepreneurship.  Dwight contacted us and came to BiGAUSTIN for technical assistance classes where we worked one-on-one with him to create a business plan that incorporated his experience in retail and large corporations like General Mills and Kraft.  Coming from these wildly successful corporations, Dwight knew he had the experience and knowledge to create a plan that would be prosperous.  It was the HOW that he wasn’t quite sure about.  That’s where BiGAUSTIN came in.

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After creating a business plan with our talented experts, Dwight applied and was given a loan to open the doors to a new future.  He said it was difficult at first because you are so used to spending other people’s money in the corporate world and now you are spending your own.  This has been a challenge for him but, he said they have fun and are continuing to grow and learn as they go.

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Dwight says, “I cam across BiGAUSTIN at the right time.  Being a small business owner is challenging to say the least.  One of the greatest challenges you will face is gearing up for growth.  BiGAUSTIN has incredible resources that have helped me to take my growth curve to a whole new level.”

He sure has reached a whole new level!  Sales are up, customers are pouring in, and the orders are coming in faster than they can blink their eyes!  Being busy at work can sometimes be a stressful time but, Dwight seems content with their progress and expects them to only become more busy.  Maybe he’ll open up a second location…?  You just never know with these entrepreneurs, they get an idea and off they go to take on a new adventure.  Wherever the future may lead them, there will be tons of fun and awesome t-shirts involved!

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Here at BiGAUSTIN we are excited to see Dwight succeed and hope that he’ll give us a good discount on some one of a kind t-shirts (haha, just kidding!)  But seriously, we are so delighted with their success.  When our clients are successful, so are we!  So, if you ever need a t-shirt made for your volleyball league, your kids soccer team, or for that 5K you’ve been training for, give Dwight a call over at Big Frog and he’ll hook you up with some great deals and styles.

Congratulations Dwight and Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More!

Check Them Out on Yelp!

Big Frog Website

Shop!

Social Media for Nonprofits

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Nonprofits notoriously don’t have any money to put towards their social media marketing strategies.  Recently I attended a Social Media for Nonprofits conference specifically talking about how to maximize your social media without breaking the bank.  Everyone knows that to survive on Facebook you have to pay to play, now it’s increasingly more difficult to get your posts seen and business noticed.  Facebook does let you do some pretty cool stuff though, for free even!  For example, you can import all your contacts into their Invite Email Contacts page and they will invite your contacts to Like your business page.  This is a really easy way to get existing people who support your cause to Like your page.  If you already have a relationship with them, they are more likely to Like your page however, if you never ask they won’t do it.  

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One thing that has been difficult for me is ASKING.  There is tons of research out there that show the power of asking, if you never ask someone to do something how will they know to do it?  It can be hard at times to ask, you don’t want to come off too strong pushing someone to do what you want.  We have all been in that position where you have a pushy salesperson who just won’t let you shop in peace!  Don’t be that person!!  

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It’s easy to step over that line between someone who is posting about their products and services all the time and someone who genuinely takes the time to come up with interesting, educational information.  We can only read so much about your sale for last minute Mary Kay items or what dodgy venue you’re band is playing at on Friday night.  After about the third post in three hours you will soon be unsubscribed to or simply unfriended.  Being unfriended is like the END of your Facebook reputation and all is lost after that.  But, what if there was a way to promote your products or services without being overly annoying and bombarding people?

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Fortunately, there is!  Have you heard of the 80/20 rule?  80% of posts should be educational, informative, and engaging content that people can actually relate to.  20% of posts should be related to your products, services, and how you can solve a problem for them.  This way you can tell people about what you’re doing while keeping them reading and engaged on your page.  This is obviously not meant to be an exact science calculated down to the percentage of posts you should make one way or the other but, it is meant to be a rough guide to keep yourself in check and your readers still reading.  

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Just by making sure you are writing relevant content and posting about stuff your readers would be interested can go a long way.  Maybe you only have $20 a month to spend on Facebook Ads, that’s totally fine.  Keep your budget in mind and utilize some of the free advertising methods that Facebook offers (if you aren’t using hashtags it’s time to start.)  Also, remember that everyone struggles to come up with interesting, unique content.  You are not alone on that one!

What challenges does your nonprofit face in regards to social media?

Is There a “Right Path”?

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As Panera Bread founder Ron Shaich gave the commencement speech to the class of 2014 at Clark University he talked to students about the path he chose and how it wasn’t necessarily the “right path”.  

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He asks the graduating class, “What really matters in creating a successful career and a successful life?”  If you were asked this question by a coworker, friend, or family member right now, do you know what you would say?  

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Ron Shaich goes on to tell three different stories about learning how to define what truly matters to reach your goals of success.  If you are able to define what it means to be successful and what that looks like, you have increased your odds for success.  We don’t always know where we are going or what will be on the other side of that hill but, if we know what our passion is then no matter what path we take, it’ll be right.  Read his entire speech Here.

So, how exactly do you figure out what brings you joy and ignites your passion?  Look around you, look to the people whom you love, look inside yourself and quietly listen to your heart beat.  Listen to your soul and your passion will come.  Don’t ask yourself, “What am I good at” instead, ask yourself what gets me fired up, what makes me feel better about myself, and how can I make a difference in the world? 

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Mr. Shaich suggests that instead of doing a post-mortem near the end of life where we analyze our decisions and try to make sense of the choices we’ve made, do a pre-mortem.  This is where we look into the future and imagine ourselves looking back on our lives, evaluating our decisions and what was most important to us.  In most cases, it won’t be money or objects.  

Ask yourself today, what can I do to be successful in life (personal and professional)?  I suspect you are already on the way there, more so than you would think.  

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Empower Children With School Supplies

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1. Go to a big box store near you

2. Pick up a school supply list

3. Buy something

4. Drop off your gift

After reading this short but, inspiring article by Anita Janke I’m about ready to jump in the car, run over to Target, and buy some school supplies to donate.  Anita Janke talks briefly about her struggles with poverty as a young child and how it affected her and her family’s lives, even to the point where she tried in vain to cover up a hole in her shirt because her family couldn’t afford to buy her a new one.  She also talks about how embarrassing and difficult it was to try to find a, “…safe person to bum a sheet of paper from or try to erase a mistake without an eraser.”  These may not seem like a big deal in the long run but, from a perspective of a student this is very real and very difficult.  It’s not just that these children are arriving to school unprepared because they forgot their notebook or required reading materials at home.  On the contrary, they knew all along they needed it and have been dreading the first day of school when they would have to ask all their schoolmates next to them to borrow the things their families couldn’t provide.  Not only did this affect Anita Janke’s self confidence but, she started to associate education with being wealthy.  This poses a huge problem for American (and many other countries) society.  We simply cannot afford for our youth to be forced into the belief that education is a privilege and not a right.  Anita Janke proposes this: “…for children living in poverty we have to help do more than get them through school.  We need to help them activate and achieve their dreams.  For the under resourced, it starts with putting school supplies into their hands.”  I could not agree with Anita Janke more.

Here in Texas parents get a long laundry list of school supplies they must buy for their children.  They require parents to over-buy school supplies so that there is a surplus  for the kids whose families couldn’t afford them.  I hear many complaints from parents talking about the burden of buying school supplies and how they are about to spend hundreds of dollars on them.  One of their main complaints is that the majority of those supplies aren’t even for their own children.  On the one hand, I understand where they are coming from.  A lot of families are scraping by just enough to buy their own children supplies let alone supplies for five other kids.  This is where Anita Janke’s suggestion comes into play.  If the community members took this matter into their own hands and each person decided to donate one thing, we could probably have enough supplies for every single child.  Think about it, how would you feel arriving at school for the first day with no notebook, no pencil, and no calculator?

What do you think of Anita Janke’s suggestion?  Would you do it?

Read the full article here: Breaking the Poverty Trap

 

Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop: Client Feature of July

Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop gets awesome reviews and no one can deny that a good cupcake can make any day better.  On Yelp and Google these talented cupcake aficionados get 4.5 stars out of 5 with over 800 reviews, now that’s a pretty good success rate if you ask me.  Their store is located in the trendy South 1st area of Austin, TX where hip restaurants and food trucks have been sprouting up over the years.  Not only do they bake delicious cupcakes but, they do cakes AND weddings!

As you walk into this hip, trendy little bakeshop be prepared to be filled with the smells of caramel, sugar, and chocolate.  The black and white tiled floor mixed with the colorful walls makes the small bakeshop feel open and airy. This place has the feel of Grandma’s kitchen, warm, loving, and always ready to serve up something sweet.  They have such a wide variety of cupcakes to choose from it’s hard to choose just one!  Of course, keeping with the health foodie theme of Austin, Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop uses only the highest quality ingredients including no preservatives, locally sourced cage-free eggs, no mixes, and definitely, no shortcuts. Olivia and Steve O’Neal take their cupcakes very seriously (but not too seriously) and are committed to providing some of the freshest and most delicious tasting deserts in the area.

Everyday they have new specials that even include a couple vegan options.  Their everyday flavors range from the Southern Belle to the Blackberry Lemonade.  The Blackberry Lemonade is a, “Buttery vanilla cupcake swirled with blackberries, filled with tart lemon curd and topped with creamy blackberry swirled cream cheese frosting (Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop Website).”  In addition to cakes and cupcakes they also offer a variety of pies, breakfast pastries, cookies, and bars.  Even though they are known for their cupcakes, these delicious extras can’t be missed!  Don’t forget to try a mouthwatering Triple Berry Pie or a Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Bar as a side to your Marilyn Monroe cupcake!

BiGAUSTIN is proud to have been a part of the growth of Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop and is extremely confident that they will only continue to succeed!  We want to thank Sugar Mama’s for choosing BiGAUSTIN to help them expand their business and hope that when we come in next time we can get a discount (no, just kidding!)

 

Getting To Know BiGAUSTIN

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Many people don’t know what BiGAUSTIN is all about.  In fact, many people don’t even know we exist.  I want to take you beyond the website and beyond Facebook to see who we really are.  As a nonprofit we are always short on staff, short on coffee, and short on time.  But, this doesn’t deter the some 15 people who wake up every morning and make that commute to BiGAUSTIN.

WHAT WE DO

We work to help low-moderate income entrepreneurs receive education and training on how to start and sustain a new or existing business.  Also, we offer lending assistance so if you need help learning how to get a loan or help with the actual application process, we are there for you.  Not only will you receive end-to-end business solutions but, we can help you write your business plan and learn all the ins and outs of getting started.

THE PEOPLE (WELL, SOME OF THEM)

BiGAUSTIN has a very diverse staff.  If we aren’t clowning around the office we are out in the community working to let people know that you CAN turn your dream of owning your own business into a reality.

Not only is our Executive Director, Stacy Dukes-Rhone, highly experienced but, she has served in a number of volunteer and leadership capacities.  In addition, she has been our Executive Director for over four years and has secured numerous grants to keep this place running and serving the community.

Karen Diggs is our Loan Manager and when she’s not changing outfits she’s working with community members to help them through the loan process and understand how their credit works.  Karen’s office is decked out in everything frog that you can imagine and isn’t afraid to show her love for those crazy, green creatures.

Stephanie just joined us four short weeks ago and can be heard throughout the office laughing and thinking out loud.  Not only is she a social media guru, she has great insight and really knows her stuff.

Melissa is our Training & Compliance Manager but she’s also our full time IT Specialist helping us with everything from hooking up monitors to re-coding the website.

Something unique about BiGAUSTIN is that we employ several AmeriCorps VISTA members (Volunteers in Service to America).  VISTA’s only get paid what the federal government estimates to be the poverty level for that particular area, making a year long assignment on food stamps and bus passes quite challenging.  But, as you may have guessed, it’s a pretty rewarding experience knowing that you are part of something that is working to make a difference in the community.

What is your work culture like?  Comment below and let us know what a normal day is like at your office or wherever you work!

Daniel Esquivel Partners With BiGAUSTIN To Give Back To The Community

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Daniel Esquivel, Season eleven contestant on Project Runway and Austin, Texas resident has teamed with BiGAUSTIN http://bigaustin.org/about-us/, to give back to the community through a luncheon/fashion show. Twenty-five percent of the event’s proceeds will go toward human trafficking victims; the rest will go towards entrepreneurship programs and to sustain BiGAustin’s success. The event is also intended to inspire women that want to be entrepreneurs in the fashion industry.
Today, Daniel met with BiGAUSTIN to go over the details of the fashion show that he’ll host at the luncheon. He walked into the office with a vibrant energy, his famous mustache and an eye catching and chic hand bag that had a print of a gold balloon, shaped into a dog.
We started our meeting by going over the details of the fashion show that he’ll be hosting, which will debut his Spring/Summer collection.
Attendees of the event “will be introduced to more conservative and wearable pieces for real women.” He also announced that he will be modeling a couple of pieces for plus size women. “There will be twelve models with twelve different looks”. He will also be auctioning a “Sara” dress during the event which he refers to as his “lucky charity dress”.
We concluded the meeting with a Q&A that gave us more insight on who Daniel is and how he operates as a fashion designer.
1. Q: What is the best advice that you can give an aspiring designer?
A: Go with your gut

2. Q: How does Austin’s fashion scene measure up to other cities that have been recognized for their fashion scene?
A: I see a lot of similarities between different cities. When it comes down to it, everyone wants to be different, have their own style and be comfortable.

3. Q: Name something that you cannot do without while designing?
A: A French ruler, which is basically a curled ruler that allows you to measure intricate parts of the body.

4. Q: What is your favorite Austin spot and why?
A: A grotto that is located at San Jose church. I like to go there and pray because it’s serene and peaceful. I’m on a journey to recovery from alcoholism and I’m not afraid to admit when I need help, I want to inspire people not to be ashamed to get help when they are suffering from an addiction. The thing that triggered my alcoholism was being bullied in school for being different.

Daniel concluded the Q&A by stating that people should embrace who they are. Daniel is definitely a gem and one of a kind. If you want to keep up with what he’s doing follow him on his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DanielEsquivelFanClub