CINCINNATI – Starting a business during the pandemic has been a challenge for many entrepreneurs. According to the Census Bureau’s most recent Small Business Pulse Survey, nearly 45% of business owners said the pandemic had a moderate negative impact on their business.
But many of them find help through places like the Small Business Development Center.
Smoothies have always been a part of Isaac Hamlin’s diet. It gave him energy when he played college rugby and he wanted to share it with others.
“I realized there was a market for things like this, especially in a society where people are increasingly concerned about how they look and, more importantly, how they feel,” Hamlin said.
It was then that he founded Better Blend, a smoothie business in Cincinnati. But these aren’t just your regular smoothies.
“We have flavors like brownie batter, peanut butter cake, and stuff like that. Indulgences that would normally be a treat, but we can turn them into something that’s a meal packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” he said.
Hamlin opened its first location in 2018 and its second location shortly after. But opening its third location was a challenge.
“The pandemic hit and all these things started happening and we needed someone to help us navigate the waters,” he said.
He then turned to Gino DiGiovanni of the Small Business Development Center, or SBDC. It is a service provided by the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. Free individual business advice and business valuation are just a few of the offers on offer.
“That’s one of the things that SBDC has really focused on, which is knowing your numbers, knowing your margins, knowing your cash flow and how that differs, and being able to go from point A to Getting to point B, especially when you don’t know how much you’re going to make next month because you don’t know what the pandemic is going to do,” he said.
Since joining SBDC, Hamlin has grown his business even further. He hopes to make it a franchise by the summer. He said entrepreneurs should not be afraid to enlist outside help when starting or growing their business.
“It’s okay to outsource people and ask questions smarter than you, and I encourage that to the ends of the world,” he said. “If you don’t know something, someone out there does.”