Farmington Chamber of Commerce launches new virtual series next week
'From Unemployed to Entrepreneur' featured in Zoom format
FARMINGTON — "From Unemployed to Entrepreneur," the new monthly meeting series being launched next week by the Farmington Chamber of Commerce, is designed to connect start-up business owners with the resources and coaching they need to succeed.
But Jamie Church, the chamber's CEO and president, acknowledges the series has a more basic goal in mind — to inspire would-be entrepreneurs who might be hesitating to start a business now to take the plunge.
"Exactly," Church said, explaining that the series will focus in large part on the personal stories of people who felt many of those same doubts before they committed to starting a business.
The series begins at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 19, and will be held virtually in a Zoom format. Registration is $10 and includes a pickup lunch from The Chili Pod restaurant at 121 W. Main St. in downtown Farmington.
Registration will be limited to the first 30 participants because of the virtual format, which Church said can be difficult to manage for a larger group. She is not expecting the first session to max out on participants. She anticipates approximately 15 people will take part initially before the series begins to pick up steam in the months ahead.
While the series is new, it's not the first time the chamber has been part of a project like this, Church said. She said the organization's Four Corners Professionals group has done a Lunch and Learn series before, but the difference is this series will be devoted to entrepreneurship, whereas the former series took a broader approach, covering a variety of topics instead of being devoted to one theme.
Church said participants will be advised on such subjects as how to set up a business structure, how to find an accountant, how to get help setting up a business plan, how to register a business, how to market that business and how to identify funding sources.
"The chamber, we think, is a good platform for that," Church said of the kind of information that will be dispensed throughout the series. "We're always trying to help new businesses be successful."
The series also welcomes participants who own an existing business but who are looking for assistance. Church said the series will include presenters who have been forced to pivot the approach of their business during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she believes those experiences will be relevant to others.
The first meeting will feature presentations by Elizabeth Marsh, the director of the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs; Allen Elmore, of Real Estate Pros; Randy Allen, the owner of Next Level Home Audio and Video; and Scott Weaver, the owner of Traegers Bar.
The meetings will last approximately an hour, Church said, although she noted that if participants have questions for the presenters, the Zoom meeting can continue as long as it needs to.
She hopes to move the series to an in-person setting as soon as conditions allow for that, but she said current plans call for the series to last at least six months — and hopefully more, if there is a demand for it.
"As long as we have interesting topics and receive feedback that the series is beneficial, we'll keep going with it," she said.
Each meeting also will include some suggested reading. Church said Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese?" is the suggested book for the first session.
The sessions will be recorded, so that if someone interested in participating has a time conflict or if more than 30 people try to register, the information can be accessed after the fact, Church said.
The virtual nature of the series is just the latest example of how the chamber, like countless other organizations, is relying on the digital realm to remain relevant during the pandemic, she said.
"I think right now, that's the primary way to reach out to our members and keep them energized," Church said. "And even when the pandemic is over, I think there will always be a place for virtual platforms. … There's just that convenience of being able to plan something on short notice on a virtual platform, and I think we're going to keep utilizing those."
The meetings will take place on the third Tuesday of each month. To register for next week's virtual meeting, visit gofarmington.com or call 505-325-0279.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.