With the Loveland Business Development Center (LBDC) located in the same building as the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, it is exciting to watch the program grow. From time to time, I will be highlighting the people involved with the program. One area of growth for the LBDC is the steady addition of business consultants. Today I will be focusing on Charity DeVries.
Loveland entrepreneur Charity DeVries knows the value of digital media when it comes to promoting the two businesses she and her husband, Ben, co-own—and she wants to help other local businesses do the same.
DeVries of TechKnow and Aroma Outfitters recently joined the LBDC as an instructor for digital media, e-commerce and marketing. She will be teaching her first class on social media, “Sorting Through Social Media: Basics and Strategy,” on April 21 and a more advanced marketing workshop in late summer. The class will be 9 a.m. to noon at the LBDC office at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce building, 5400 Stone Creek Circle. Amy Alcorn, of Aspen Grove Marketing, teaches this workshop at the Larimer SBDC located in the Innosphere building in Fort Collins.
In the class, DeVries will provide an overview of social media, explaining how Facebook, Pinterest and other channels work and the best ones to focus on based on a business’s target market. She will give a few tips and tricks for getting fans and followers and building audiences.
“As a business owner, it’s not necessary to use all of them,” DeVries said about the channels.
DeVries also is training to become a SBDC-Certified Business Consultant as a specialist helping LBDC clients with digital marketing, website development and e-commerce. Loveland residents who register with the LBDC receive free business counseling and can meet with specialists for up to three times without paying a fee—they also can access specialists through the Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC) through a partnership between the two organizations.
Following the class, DeVries will be able to provide clients with more in-depth information through a consulting session. She will help them come up with digital marketing strategies and walk them through what they need to do.
“For startups and somebody who’s an entrepreneur, there are a lot of mistakes that could be avoided and that could be costly,” DeVries said. “You can get there a lot faster if you have somebody you can talk to who’s a little bit more experienced, or more business savvy.”
DeVries finds that some entrepreneurs are passionate about their products or services and know how to work “in” their business but do not know how to work “on” their business. Working on the business is identifying a marketing strategy, coming up with a five-year plan and identifying ways to bring in clients and improve exposure of the business.
“Entrepreneurs are very passionate people, … They love what they’re doing,” DeVries said, adding that self-education about business ownership is an important part of the process. “A lot of entrepreneurs don’t make that connection that you have to be on both sides.”
DeVries, who has a passion for teaching and loves helping others, figures the class is a win-win by offering a service to the community and increasing awareness of what she and Ben do in their own businesses.
“We’re available and here in Loveland,” DeVries said. “We live here. We shop here. Our kids go to school here. We know this community in and out, and we want to serve the people of this community.”
DeVries, who calls herself a momtrepreneur, is raising two children and operating two home-based businesses with her husband, while also volunteering at their school and in the community. She and Ben started TechKnow, a web design, digital marketing and e-commerce company, in 2008 under a different name, PC Paramedics, initially providing tech support for computers. They rebranded the company in 2010.
“It’s helping people to get to know technology and harness the power of technology,” DeVries said.
DeVries, who’s taught essential oil classes, and Ben noticed a market gap of accessories for essential oil products and in 2015 started Aroma Outfitters, an essential oil supply company that sells storage and travel cases, diffusers and other products. Ben wanted to sell a product on Amazon, and DeVries loves essential oils, so they found a fit.
They now sell the products on their company website and through other outlets, reaching more customers.
“We had really good success, and we started adding products,” DeVries said.
By having the second business, the DeVries demonstrate how to apply best practices in digital marketing to capture a larger market, the focus of what TechKnow does. “We know what works, and we can help you with your company as well,” DeVries said.