TCEDC business class helps launch low-cost startups

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Google and Facebook didn’t start off as heavyweights in the world’s economy. In fact, most of the biggest businesses start off as incredibly small-scale operations. That’s the thinking behind a new business class and competition for local entrepreneurs with little to no seed money for their ideas.

The Taos County Economic Development Corp. (TCEDC) is hosting a training class, “Something From Nothing: the Art of Creating a Business,” to help locals get their businesses off the ground for less than $1,000.

The first meeting is Tuesday (March 15), 7-9 p.m. at the TCEDC campus, 1021 Salazar Road, Taos. The class will run for several weeks and costs nothing to participate.

Given the low-income demographics of Taos County, Terrie Bad Hand, co-director of TCEDC, said the focus on $1,000 businesses is spot on. TCEDC has historically focused on food entrepreneurship, evidenced by the dozens of businesses that have gotten their start and continue to operate out of the TCEDC commercial kitchen.

But this class reaches beyond food to any sort of feasible, low-cost business, such as fence repair, guiding hunting trips and working on trucks.

Max Kaufman, UNM-Taos commercial trucking instructor and developer of the TCEDC class, said the focus is on creative thinking and problem solving, especially when it comes to finding and capitalizing on the “underutilized resources and hidden capacity” that already exist in one’s own skills.

The class will also explore “intrapreneurship,” or developing new ventures, products and ideas within existing companies.

Over the course of the class, participants will learn the basics of starting a business — from coming up with the initial idea and feeling out its viability to assessing one’s resources and wading through legal plans and concerns. Participants will workshop their ideas together.

At the end of the course, participants can take part in a “Shark Tank”-style competition where they pitch their business plans to a panel of local businesspeople for a chance at $1,000 in start-up money. The competition will award prizes based on the greatest chance of business success.

Bad Hand called the class “reality based” and puts value on the idea of starting ventures at a small scale. “You can grow it as big as your like,” she said. “It speaks to the independence and creativity of the people up here in Northern New Mexico.”

To RSVP for the free class, contact TCEDC at (575) 758-8731.

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