Monday, October 22, 2012

Uta Halee Auction

Since beginning our bakery-owner research, we have been told by a few restaurant owners that auctions are great places to get deals on kitchen equipment and utensils, as long as we went into them knowing what actually was a deal!

Our auction opportunity came this past August. Omaha's Uta Halee Home for Girls, which had opened in 1950, closed down in December of last year. Located in Ponca Hills, it was a group home that offered psychiatric help for teens with emotional and behavioral problems. The campus is in such a beautiful and serene place, surrounded by woods and nature. It seems like the location alone would help in the healing process of the mind.

Well, so, our opportunity came when friend of ours saw on that Uta Halee was having a liquidation auction on August 29th. Online we found that all of the items up for auction were listed, photographed and described on a central website called Holy wow, there was a lot to look at! Rooms upon rooms of office furniture, vans, lounge chairs, exercise equipment, and a golf cart. We were more interested in their commercial kitchen equipment. We saw a 20-quart mixer, two convection ovens, a gas range, a three-basin sink, over one hundred sheet pans and muffin tins, and many many units of industrial wire shelving. There were also a lot of bins full of random utensils that we could have used. Overwhelmed by the selection, we made a list of the items we wanted to bid on, and the prices of those items both new and used. We were prepared to get some deals! Oh yes we were!

The auction was a great experience; it was really fun! I got to hold the little fan with our registered bid number on it while Trilety helped me to keep track of which items we were bidding on and when to stop bidding. I think I can understand why people like to do that and how it could be addictive. I got a cool rush each time I raised my little fan in the air.

As it turned out, we were outbid on all but one item, which was a microwave. But as we had looked up new and used prices for all of this equipment prior to the auction, we knew that we were not only being outbid, but that people were severely overbidding on a lot of things. Trilety and I found ourselves giving each other looks of bewilderment as the bidding ended on each item, well over what we had priced out a few days earlier.

In the end, we walked out with a really great experience as well as a pretty great microwave. Perhaps we will have more auctions in our future. I hope so!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Logo

We have a slightly altered logo!

Megan first designed our logo a couple of years ago; it's a blend of an image and a wordmark/logotype. The image of the owl and the peacock have not changed, but the font of the text is improved.

We are currently working with someone to develop/design our website (another post will be devoted to that process!). He provided us with a link to over 500 fonts that we could choose from for the headings and content text for our website. After hours of perusing cleverly named fonts, such as "Architect's Daughter," we decided on a couple, but also realized that they clashed a bit with the font of our logo. Can we call Megan's handwriting a font? Sure!

As an aside, the documentary titled Helvetica has some interesting tidbits about font and typeface, but overall it is a surprisingly dull documentary about an intriguing subject.

See below for our original logo:

and now our altered logo!

There may be a bit of tweaking left, but this new flourish of casual font, rather than the blocky font, is what we will use from this point forward. 

Logos, like brands and businesses and people, undergo growth and change. We're not the only ones to change our logo. See this great post/article about the evolution of the Starbucks logo with commentary from one of the logo designers. It seems as the company grew, the siren became more demure.  Maybe in a few years, our birds will finally be wearing underwear!

What's your favorite logo?

~ Trilety

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Recommendation: NBDC

One of the items on our checklist as we started out on our small bakery business idea was to create a business plan. Seems easy enough, right? Right. Well... ... not really. We knew that businesses often create business plans, but we didn't really know why or how to to do it.

A business plan is not completely necessary. That is, it isn't illegal to start and run a business without one. But in our case, it has come in very handy as far as organizing our thoughts. Also, the fact that we need to get a loan to cover our start-up expenses means that we need to have something to present a bank with outside of the fact that we just really want to own our own bakery because we think it will be fun. They want numbers (of course they do!) They want to know that they will get their money back. It's an investment for them as well.

Looking online at the Small Business Administration website gave us a good start to understanding what a business plan entails. It describes the business plan and its purpose and it outlines what needs to be included. Even with this universal resource, eventually we came to realize that we needed some guidance. There are parts of the business plan that we were able to do on our own, and that made us think deeper about who we wanted to be as a business. We initially created a market analysis, company description and a product line, as well as our business philosophy. However, we got stumped on financial projections. Neither of us are accountants. What the heck is a break even analysis?! We asked our accountant who gave some good insight but as far as coming up with all of the actual numbers (projected fixed expenses, opening expenses, marketing expenses, costs of goods, projected production numbers, and on and on) we were at a loss and to be honest, we were completely overwhelmed with this task.

A friend of Trilety's, as well as my mom, suggested we talk to someone at the Nebraska Business Development Center. Located in Mammel Hall (College of Business Administration) on UNO's south campus, the NBDC and its staff have been our business plan saviors! We first registered online and then set up an appointment with a business counselor who helped us reorganize and complete our business plan. We had most of the writing done already but needed major help with our financial projections (as mentioned before). Its been about eight months and we have completed a solid business plan. Wow it feels fantastic! Fantastic!!!!

If you are thinking about starting a small business of any kind, or are in the process, this is such a good resource. I should also mentions that they have many more services than business plan development. The Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) also offers business counseling services for web development, exit planning, energy efficiency, business valuation and transfer, to name a few. They also offer workshops in business development, business analysis, project management, government contracting, and government contracting.

As you may have come to realize, this post is an official recommendation. These birds give the NBDC five stars, two thumbs up, and partridge in a pear tree!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Back to Blogging

We've been quiet, busy birds as of late, but we are starting to chirp once again!

The summer of 2012 has been full of new experiences and exciting challenges. Here are just a few that we'll start to cover in upcoming blog posts:

  • Working with amazing architects to design the bakery
  • Finalizing our business plan and working with the Nebraska Business Development Center on financial projections
  • Requesting (and receiving!) a waiver from the Plumbing Board
  • Attending our first live equipment auction
  • Experimenting with gluten free recipes
  • Designing a website with a web designer
  • Deciding on Life Insurance (we're told it comforts the loan officer)
  • And so much more!
Each week, Megan and I will tell a tiny tale about one of these experiences, and we hope you come along for the listening and commenting.

Here's a picture of a Praying Mantis who was sunning him/herself on my patio the other day. I've heard they are a tough insect of a fortuitous nature.

~ Trilety