By LUCY DENDINGER
What happens when an event breaks the fourth wall and becomes a game changing business resource and ultimately a genuine friendship? Hosted by SEBA Graduate Business, ChangeMakers, created specifically with solving business problems in mind, did just that.
When Carole Sinclair, of Farmyard Darlings, signed up she expected to share some of the business challenges she and partner, Kim Berry face and learn from a team of SMC MBA Alums, faculty, staff and students. She had no idea how the ChangeMakers event would reshape her perspective on life and business.
Solving Small Business Problems - Making Major Impact
During the event, Carole’s ChangeMaker team listened to her goals of streamlining efforts and developing a business strategy with a focus on the bottom line. They went to work right away, peppering her with questions. Drawing on their own experiences and education, they formed ideas on how to solve business problems and gave suggestions for Kim to consider. Scott Jower, SMC MBA ‘11, had even reached out to Carole before the event to dig deeper and come prepared to offer applicable solutions.
Small Business Stats
small businesses in the U.S.
are small- to medium-sized businesses
Jobs created annually by small businesses
Ultimately what surfaced during the ChangeMakers event, a 4 hour intensive business problem solving workshop, was that Farmyard Darlings was at a pivot point and needed to recognize time as their biggest commodity. For example, by doing everything themselves, they weren’t allowing their business to prosper. Carole and Kim’s ultimate stumbling block was the multi-functional, hands-on role they play in their business.
Farmyard Darlings is more than a lifestyle brand, it is Carole and Kim’s actual lifestyle. The Darlings, as they are called, can regularly be seen riding their horses through downtown Lafayette. Their social media is a burst of “picking,” horseback riding, and the heavy lifting of salvaging barn wood and antiques that they repurpose into contemporary country chic decor. The ChangeMaker team quickly recognized the most important asset to the business was The Darlings themselves. They discussed a variety of ways to leverage the brand, focus on operational functions and determine scalability.
“I could not believe people were giving me all this advice for free"
Carol Sinclair shared, “The consulting was so good, I would have paid a lot for this, but these folks were just here to help me. Scott (Jower) helped me switch my sight. He was able to show me our business through a different lens.
As a result of this, I realized it was okay to say ‘no’ in order to focus on the needs of our customers and the bottom line. We wanted to please everyone and had really big ideas and lots of creativity, but not enough time to be everything to everyone. I now look at my life/career differently.”
"Before ChangeMakers and Scott, we were the quickest 'yes’ in town"
Carole credits Scott’s high level financial executive experience and his generosity in helping her facilitate the changes. Scott was not only willing to get into the nitty gritty of the business, but he even offered to help the FD team make some deliveries. “He is our guardian angel.” Coincidentally, while talking to Carole on the porch of her Lafayette shop, Scott dropped by just to check in. It was not planned, just a guardian angel doing his thing.
"Contributing to their success, is my success."
From Scott’s perspective, the ChangeMakers event was an opportunity to share his knowledge from his experience in the financial industry, specifically working with small companies and helping solve business problems. He was compelled to participate as a way to give back and pay forward. Scott really connected with the entrepreneurial spirit of the participating businesses and wants to see them reconnect with what inspired them in the beginning. “Seeing how a small nudge to change course can lead to big results later down the road. Contributing to their success, is my success,” said Scott.