NxLevel: week 10

well, the end is upon us. yes, the conclusion to the NxLevel business education course for creative entrepreneurs is here - and our last guest speaker was matt hessler, co-founder of the denver-based clothing company elc mens.

a cool, rugged line of men's threads, elc mens is a product of two colorado guys with their sights set on ruffling feathers on the national men's fashion scene... especially on the country's coasts where colorado is more synonymous with skiing and beef than hip masculine apparel. hessler says he and his tattoo artist partner patrick king have planted some seeds in retail outlets in both NYC and LA all while tapping a uniquely colorado feel with the brand's designs and marketing.

now, many of the hurdles hessler and king face while trying to launch a successful national clothing line may be unique to their industry and goals, but there are some lessons that any creative entrepreneur can learn from listening to the elc story.

hessler says choosing the right suppliers was key to building the elc foundation. "what do your suppliers say about your company?" he says. depending on who you're doing business with, hessler stresses vetting your suppliers to learn about their attributes and the materials they use. what are their projections of current and near-term volumes? where are your suppliers located and how does your industry perceive them?

NxLevel: week 9

week number nine in this 10-week journey of ours... and, like most things in life, our trusted leaders have saved the best for last. i mean, surely this group of creative entrepreneurs has been looking forward to "understanding budgets and financials" since registering for the class, right? um, probably not.

i don't intend to speak for everyone in the class, but by nature we creatives are too busy being... well, creative to be bothered with the minutiae of whether something makes FINANCIAL sense. i mean, if the universe is going to provide me with everything i need, what’s the point of worrying about whether or not i can actually afford to do it? ha! hopefully the bank will understand when i come knocking for start-up capital. ;)

not to make light of some sound philosophical perspective, because i truly believe we ARE given everything we need to succeed. but in the world of finance, an existential reliance on positive thought doesn't always produce as profitable results as we're hoping for. lucky for our class, however, we had a number-crunching pro come shed some light on how to use detailed budgets to our benefit.

presenting at this week’s NxLevel class was EKS&H's senior accountant rebecca mcfadden who came to help us see the assets, liabilities and equity of our respective companies through the highly-focused lens of a balance sheet and to present our (theoretical) revenue and expense activities through an equally-specific income statement. ugh.


NxLevel: week 8

to social media or not to social media? that was the question of the night in this week's installment of the NxLevel business education for creative entrepreneurs class. on hand to help us budding artrepreneurs answer this emerging media question was deb robison of rudymedia.

president of the mile high social media club, robison uses her expertise in various emerging media trends to help businesses build community around their products and services. "building your business is all about community," she says. "the stronger your community, the more effective your work."

for starters, robison says that companies unfamiliar with new media technologies come to her with one simple question regarding whether to participate in social media: do i have to? her answer is a definitive, "maybe."  she says she usually advises these types of clients to answer that question for themselves by starting internally. ask yourself, and by extension your company/organization, what do you love doing?

exploring the answer to this fundamental question can lead you to others in the social media world that share your passions - and these are the places to start building a supportive community. interacting with people bound by common interests can help a business owner or entrepreneur develop a strategy to intertwine work with this community of peers and potential clients/customers. and, more importantly, this time becomes an opportunity to "listen, learn and share" from the folks you'll meet.