Loveland Business Development Center (LBDC) Mission Statement: The mission of the LBDC is to provide Loveland citizens and existing businesses with free one on one consulting services, sophisticated training seminars and street smart advisors in order to create a stronger more vibrant economy.
There are many people associated with the LBDC program who help with that mission. There are a few people in the community, who work in the background, and may not get the recognition they deserve. This week, April 30 to May 6, 2017, is National Small Business Week. There is one individual in the Loveland, CO community that I would like to acknowledge, Laura Alier. Laura launched I Love Loveland in 2011. I have watched Laura grow this fan page to over 18,000 followers. The page was created to facilitate sharing and conversation about the Loveland community. This page is now the largest and most-engaged social media page for Loveland.
So why am I spotlighting this person for National Small Business Week? I Love Loveland posts have an enormous organic reach. Many of the posts for the page have something to do with small business owners. This is a fantastic free resource for any business lucky enough to be named in one of their posts. Although Laura is quite well known throughout Loveland, I don’t always get the feeling that people appreciate her tremendous contributions and her dedication to the community. Kudos to you Laura Alier!
Laura credits her team of admin helpers for making the page so special and popular in the community. “Without them, I Love Loveland wouldn’t be what it is today. They have become my closest friends, like a family and without them we would have never grown to where we have and developed the relationships and following in the community.” Those team members are Kathy Dill, Lynn Reynolds, Amy Dixon, Amanda Waddell and local photographer Dick Knapp of Dick’s Photography.
In 2016, Laura started adding segmented Groups on Facebook. Facebook has moved to a more “Pay to Play” platform and this is one strategy to deal with that move. I recently asked Laura if that has been successful? “Our new topic-specific groups have been a great addition to our primary page as it allows more user-driven engagement letting members post and comment directly. We have been incredibly pleased with their growth with great buy-in from community members. Engagement and user-participation is our primary goal and the topic-specific groups has created more opportunities to do that.” Topic specific groups include things like an employment group, events and happenings, politics, history, community needs and more.
One of the Groups Laura started is Loveland Small Business Owners. It is place where business owners can share and engage…post grand openings, workshops, job posting, events and news related to businesses. This group already has over 1,000 members.
In the next month Laura plans to launch the new I Love Loveland website and mobile app which will include a business directory, resource directory, events calendar, classifieds, blogs, articles and more. As they grow the mobile app they plan to add gamification which will allows users to use points for various community activities and redeem them for rewards at local businesses. Other goals include adding a community groups feature which will be a free alternative to existing group platforms, as well as a comprehensive photo gallery by category and a Loveland-specific stock photo marketplace to make it easy for local businesses to buy and utilize affordable Loveland photos for their websites, marketing materials or so much more.
As they are working to launch this new website and mobile app, you can visit their existing website at www.ILoveLoveland.org which has some tools and resources such as resource lists for specials/discounts, outdoor gear rentals, news & media, employment resources, community calendars, business resources, breweries & distilleries, antiques stores and art resources.
Laura developed a marketing service for local businesses with a limited number of available membership packages. This program began in the beginning of 2017. The annual memberships, priced at $199 for the Launch level and $299 for the Founders level, sold out quickly. It has been fascinating watching Laura grow her business. The businesses who signed up for these membership packages should find great value.
I asked Laura if she had any advice for people as they are starting out in business. “Actually the very first thing I tell everyone who is starting a business is to visit the LBDC. I have benefited greatly from my relationship with the LBDC. Starting a new business involves so many different areas that it can be overwhelming and LBDC is great at helping out with those areas you might not know as much about. Secondly, I always encourage people to get involved in the community to build your business relationships and reputation. That can include community groups, networking events, community causes and so much more.”
If you could pick one achievement or goal in your life that you have accomplished, what would that be? “I Love Loveland has definitely been one of the accomplishments I am most proud of because it has helped bringing community members together, get them engaged and involved in ways they otherwise might not have. That is an incredibly rewarding feeling, but it wouldn’t be possible without the community who has been so involved in the project.”
What has been your biggest business challenge? “We’re building a new model of community media unlike anything that currently exists. Therefore, our challenge has been getting people used to a new way of doing things. Our model is specifically built for user-participation. We absolutely want the community to be part of the conversation, it’s a fundamental part of our mission. We’ve done really well thanks to our great community members and great team. However, getting people used to a new model of community media has been our greatest challenge, but fortunately our greatest success as well.”