Meet EGBI’s Volunteer- Ken Falk

By Alison Flangel

A native of Pittsburgh, graphic designer expert Ken Falk has over 50 years of experience working with unique clients from all different realms. Through creating thousands of logos, brochures, campaigns, and more, Ken’s unique perspective on graphic design is valued by many. Starting off as an Art Publisher for Penton Publishing, Ken has grown his professional career all the way to building his own Marketing and Communications company out of Potomac, Maryland. Currently residing in Rockville, Maryland, Ken is still passionate about the importance of good design in our everyday lives.

Ken Falk shares his experience as an EGBI volunteer.

To get started, do you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
In my free time, I enjoy doing calligraphy.

How did you first get involved with EGBI?
So, I recently retired. A former client of mine mentioned that they use Catchafire, a skills-based volunteer match program, to get volunteer design work. I thought this would be perfect as I was looking for short duration volunteer work where my skills could be used. This is actually my first job with Catchafire, so it is an initial experience. It’s nice because I am planning to travel more now that the pandemic is controllable, and I don’t want to take on large long-term commitments, so short-term ones work pretty well.

Why do you volunteer for EGBI?
What intrigues me about EGBI is that it helps people learn to help themselves in a sense. People that have skills in one area, like carpentry, need help in learning how to start a business and all those things, which can be somewhat daunting. I like the idea of being able to help people become more self-sufficient and successful.

How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?
One reason why I chose this project with EGBI is because I like working on annual reports as a graphic designer. I think annual reports are interesting because they encapsulate telling a story about an organization, through highlighting accomplishments at a certain period of time. Annual reports can show transition and transformation of organizations. Additionally, Monica is really easy to work with, and I was able to make suggestions on the project which created a collaborative workspace. I really value working on projects where my input is heard and taken into consideration.

In 2021, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Ken make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.

Meet EGBI’s Volunteer- Leslie Montoya

By Diana Garcia

Meet Leslie Montoya. She was born and raised in Reynosa Tamaulipas, México, where at the age of 15, she began her career in the communications field as a Radio Disc Jockey, and soon became a producer at ExaFM- one of the best Mexican Radio Stations. Leslie got her bachelor’s degree with Honors in marketing at Eastern Michigan University. She worked at Univision for 14 years as TV and radio personality and producer. Leslie was nominated several times as the best Austin TV personality by the Austin Women in Media, AWM. In 2013, Leslie was nominated and the recipient of an Emmy from the National Academy of Television & Sciences Lone Star Emmy Awards. Leslie is also a certified life coach from the Robbins Madanes Institute, founded by the great motivational speaker Anthony Robbins. She is also a NLP practitioner certified by NLP Seminars Group International, founded by Dr. Richard Bandler. Her purpose is to continue self- improvement and to better help her community. This allows her to positively motivate and inform the Hispanic community with the use of communication platforms. For five consecutive years, Leslie contributed as an editor/life coach with monthly positive bilingual capsules to the local magazine Austin Family Magazine. In her podcast, Leslie Contigo, Leslie talks about emotional intelligence and topics related to personal growth such as anxiety, how to handle stress, relationships among other topics. The purpose of the show is to share emotional health concepts and practical emotional skills that the person can easily understand and use in his life. She is a well representative personality in our Hispanic community in Austin.  

Leslie shares her experience as a volunteer of EGBI and how you can get involved too.

Hi Leslie! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?

My weakness is craving Tamarindo: A Mexican candy. I can’t say no to any offers.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I have had the opportunity and pleasure to collaborate with EGBI as a master of ceremonies for different events and workshops.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?

There are many professional and physical health benefits when a person decides to volunteer. Research shows that people who volunteer feel happier and improve their mental health, which helps ensure you don’t get burned out in your “real” job. Professionally, it helps you meet new people, learn new skills, and more. It is a wonderful way to contribute to your community and support organizations such as EGBI.

“Consider volunteering at EGBI. It will be a win-win experience.” – Leslie Montoya

Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI?

EGBI is a great and solid organization that supports established entrepreneurs grow their business, or starters who are thinking about launching a business but don’t have a clue where to start. EGBI has a great, knowledgeable, and heartfelt team whose mission is to always provide valuable information to local small business owners and entrepreneurs.

What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering with EGBI? 

I would say that they would have a win-win experience. They will be supporting a great organization while also gaining a great experience and meeting wonderful people, who will help enrich their professional life.

Leslie Montoya will be sharing her knowledge to Present yourself confidently online and offline at EGBI’s Summer Marketing Series on June 7th in Spanish and June 9th in English.


In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Leslie make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.

Meet EGBI’s Client- Rebecca Smith

By Anne Lagrange

Meet Rebecca, an Austin native and founder of Earth + Hand, a health and wellness company offering locally produced soaps made from all natural ingredients. She started making soaps for her family and friends in 2011 with the goal of eliminating chemicals and toxins from her everyday routine. Having a child on the spectrum, she was especially focused on creating products with aroma and texture sensitivity in mind. Although she was hesitant at first, her friends loved her products and encouraged her to start a business. Today Earth + Hand products can be found online and at local markets around Austin.

Rebecca shares her experience as a business owner and how EGBI can help you grow your business too. 

Hi Rebecca! To get started, would you mind telling us what inspired you to start your business? 

I experienced sensitivity to a lot of skincare products and was worried about my son who’s sensitive to certain fragrances and dyes. I wanted to create a product that minimizes toxins while using sustainable and renewable ingredients. 

What makes your business unique?

We take a general wellness approach by combining wellness with everyday life. Our soaps are thoughtfully made and produced by hand in small batches. We’ve also started selling sage and crystals to encourage self-care for both the body and home. 

What are some obstacles you feel like you have encountered in starting or growing your business?  How did you overcome this?  

Our biggest obstacle was the shift with the pandemic and no longer being able to sell our products in person. Our soaps are very aroma centered, with a focus on aromatherapy, so it’s been difficult not having an in person experience. Moving online was especially difficult because I’m not the most tech savvy person and had to learn everything from scratch. I’ve overcome this by being persistent and intentional. The most important thing is to keep trying. 

What workshops/business coaching have you done through EGBI? 

I was so excited when I found EGBI! I started doing business coaching with Barbara and Joni, where we focused on formulating my business and kicking it into high gear. 

How has EGBI helped you? 

EGBI helped me turn my passion into a sustainable business. My mom was an entrepreneur and having a personal background in real estate I knew a little about selling services; But to sell products I needed a completely different approach. It’s amazing how after one coaching session I knew exactly what steps I needed to take in order to get my business off the ground. 

Want to work with EGBI? Contact us to find out how you can get started.

Royal Arms Cleaning, LLC

Client Conversation with Royal Arms Cleaning, LLC

Royal Arms Cleaning services specializes in cleaning commercial spaces for various industries, including, but not limited to offices, schools, retail, medical, industrial/manufacturing, restaurants, dealerships, religious facilities, event venues, etc. The company offers full cleaning services in the general night clean: vacuum, sweep and mop, garbage/recycling removal, kitchen/breakroom, restroom, etc. Additional services provided: day porter, deep clean; make-ready (move in/move out) service, post-construction clean up, window cleaning, carpet cleaning, water extraction, floor maintenance (strip and wax, machine scrub and recoat, and spray buff), power washing, and disinfecting (fogger). They use hospital grade disinfectant products that help to eliminate viruses, germs, and more.

We were proud to have a conversation  with Anne Hardin, coowner of Royal Arms Cleaning, LLC about their entrepreneur journey, challenges during COVID-19, how EGBI has assisted them through coaching, and much more. We were also joined with our supporter Cristina Valdés, local realtor with Realty Austin.

Interview with Anne Hardin below.

Lucero photography

Client Conversation with Lucero Photography

Lucero was born and raise in North Mexico and now happily living and raising my little family in Austin, Texas. She created Lucero Photography due to her passion of digital photography. She does professional headshots, family photos, and product photography.

We were proud to have a conversation with Lucero Valle-Archuleta about her entrepreneur journey, challenges during COVID-19, how she has pivoted her business, how EGBI has assisted her through coaching, and more.  We were joined by Allison Lujan with Moody Bank as moderator. Thank you ladies for the great conversation.

Interview with Lucero Valle-Archuleta of Lucero Photography below.


Por: Carlos Nazario CPA, JD

Los contribuyentes tienen la opción de elegir la deducción del costo del uso de su vehículo por tasa de millaje estándar o los costos reales implicados. El mejor enfoque es poder calcular ambos costos y tomar la mayor deducción.

  • A partir del 1 de enero de 2020, las tarifas de millaje estándar para el uso de un automóvil (incluyendo furgonetas, camionetas o camiones) serán:
  • 57.5 centavos por milla conducida para uso comercial, menos de medio centavo de la tasa de 2019
  • 17 centavos por milla conducida con fines médicos o de mudanza, tres centavos menos que la tarifa para 2019
  • Y 14 centavos por milla conducida en servicio de organizaciones de caridad.

Entonces, por ejemplo, si en 2019 una empresa usó un automóvil exclusivamente para fines comerciales y lo condujo 15,000 millas, con los siguientes gastos reales: reparaciones y mantenimiento $ 50, gasolina $ 2,000, depreciación $ 3,000, seguro de auto $ 1,500. Los gastos reales suman un total de $ 6,550 y cuando se comparan a la cantidad de millas estándar el total es de 8,626 (15,000 x .575), el contribuyente puede optar por tomar la deducción más alta de $ 8,625.

Quiero empezar mi negocio, pero no lo sé todo.

Por Leonardo Pozzobon

Emprender un negocio puede ser una aventura, un reto o algo que da miedo. Pregúntele a cualquier emprendedor que por qué empezó su negocio, y responderán cosas personales como “quiero trabajar en lo que me apasiona, y convertir mi hobby en un negocio”, “no soy un empleado, no está en mí tener un jefe, yo necesito dirigir y ser mi propio jefe”, o inclusive “había una oportunidad”, “este mercado existía y estaba vacío” y “yo podía hacerlo mejor”. Sigue indagando y llegará el tema “Si hubiera sabido esto antes me habría ido mejor”, y el emprendedor va a hablar de cosas que le causaron dolor y que usted puede aprender. Todos los emprendedores tienen historias para compartir sobre pasar noches sin dormir tratando de resolver problemas operativos o haber perdido negocios por falta de experiencia o no saber la respuesta a un problema. Por esto y mucho más, es importante tener acceso a recursos de quien aprender y a donde pedir consejos cuando se está en problemas.

Lamentablemente, las mejores oportunidades para aprender y ser un mejor empresario muchas veces vienen después de fracasar con un negocio anterior. Cuando estás en las malas, pasas mucho tiempo ocupado “apagando fuegos”, y no es sino cuando cierras la empresa que tienes la oportunidad de hacer un “post mortem” y entender qué pasó. Por esta razón, es importante no perder la cordura, estar consciente de cambios dentro y fuera del negocio, y hacer cambios antes que sea muy tarde.

Con respecto a este tipo de aprendizajes, es fácil buscar en Google y conseguir cientos de resultados por estas líneas: “10 cosas que debí haber sabido antes de empezar mi empresa”, “7 cosas que debes saber antes de abrir tu negocio”, “ 5 cosas importantes que aprendí con mi empresa” etc. Por supuesto, dos personas con negocios y estilos de vida totalmente diferentes van a tener aprendizajes y experiencias muy distintas, pero no hace daño escucharlos a todos y tomar nota de lo que a uno lo va a beneficiar más. Aquí hay varios aprendizajes que aplican para la mayoría de los emprendedores:

  • Vas a tener que ocuparte del negocio las 24 horas del día, los 7 días de la semana

La diferencia más grande entre un trabajo formal y un negocio es el horario, o mejor dicho la falta de horario. Siempre va a haber un riesgo de que un proveedor tenga un problema durante la noche o un cliente tenga un problema durante el fin de semana. Tomando en cuenta estas posibilidades, haz un plan de contingencia para atender a tu cliente, y organiza a tu equipo para poder recuperarte ante cualquier eventualidad.

  • Optimiza, Externaliza y Automatiza todo lo que puedas

En EGBI hablamos con frecuencia de “Los Cuatro Roles Que Toma El Emprendedor” (Gerente de Producto, Administrador y Organizador, Vendedor y Mercadeo, Gerente de Finanzas), y queremos que entiendas la importancia de dedicar la mayor parte del tiempo a aquel rol que eres bueno. Tu trabajo de emprendedor empieza ocupándote de varios roles, y cuando tu empresa tenga cierta tracción, será hora de comenzar a buscar especialistas y así te puedas dedicar a lo que más te gusta.

  • Un trabajo medio tiempo te dará Paz Mental

Al dejar tu trabajo de tiempo completo y dedicarte a tu negocio, estás también dejando de tener un ingreso fijo y constante, y pasando a depender de variaciones temporales en tus ingresos. Para minimizar el riesgo al que te expones, puedes ahorrar y crear un pulmón financiero que te apoyará, o también conseguir un trabajo de medio tiempo que te dé una pizca de estabilidad y paz mental.

  • Cuando empiezas, todos a tu alrededor se van a emocionar y querrán ayudarte. Cuando necesites esta ayuda, te va a costar encontrarla.

La gente a tu alrededor estará emocionada y ansiando tu éxito. Sin embargo, nada garantiza que el día que necesites ayuda estarán disponibles. Por esta razón, es importante tener acceso a recursos seguros (consultores, coaches, EGBI, etc.) que estarán disponibles para ayudarte en los malos momentos.

Con esto en mente, espero ya sepas que el camino del emprendedor trae consigo dificultades y retos que hoy no hay forma de predecir, y tienes que tomar todas las oportunidades que aparezcan para aprender. Estas dificultades que mencioné arriba no son el fin del mundo, y manejar un negocio no es imposible. Los retos existen para que tú te mejores a ti mismo y a tu negocio, y el día que sientas que te enfrentes con dificultades que no sepas atacar, eres bienvenido en EGBI para entrenamiento, coaching y apoyo.

Shirts Write Men Business Help Discussion Two

I want to start my own business, but I don’t know everything.

By Leonardo Pozzobon

f you ask entrepreneurs why they started their businesses, motives spread all over the place, from following passion and wanting to turn a hobby into a business; being personally unable to hold an office job and needing to be its own boss; all the way to just “I saw an opportunity”, “I saw a market”, “I saw room for improvement”. After this, conversations often go into the “I wish I knew” topic, and that’s where pain starts talking by itself. You will hear stories about sleepless nights trying to solve operational problems and lost business opportunities due to lack of experience or not knowing where to find an answer. Thus, it always helps to have resources to learn from and reach out to in times of trouble.

The learning chance that helps one become a better business owner often comes as a result of a previously failed business. When the business owner is busy putting out fires day and night, it is only after failure that one will take the time to do a postmortem and understand what went wrong. Thus, it is important to stay on your feet, listen to your business, and make timely changes if/when needed.

A quick google search will get you to hundreds of “10 things I wish I knew before starting a business”, “7 things to know before opening your business”, “5 things I learned from running a business” and similar results. Of course this experience will be very different for people running different businesses and with different lifestyles, but here is a list of selected quotes I found quite relevant for most entrepreneurs:

  • Running the business takes 24/7

The biggest difference between a 9-to-5 job and being a business owner is the total lack of a fixed schedule. There is always the possibility for your client to have an issue with your product at an inconvenient time, or a supplier to have trouble in the middle of the night. Consider these possibilities, have contingency plans to address your customer’s needs, and organize responsibilities among your employees to ensure resiliency.

  • Optimize, outsource and automate everything you can

We at EGBI take our time to explain “The Four Roles An Entrepreneur Must Take” (Product Manager, Organizer and Manager, Marketer and Salesperson, Financier), and we emphasize that the entrepreneur must focus on the roles he is best at. Start by wearing many hats, but as soon as you have some traction, consider the best use of your scarce time will rely on dedicating your full attention to what you’re best at and outsourcing or hiring for other activities.

  • A part-time gig gives peace of mind

Once you give up a regular full time job in place of a business, you will be subject to the whims of seasonality and economic ups and downs. You can plan for these risks either by building a strong savings lung, or having a part-time gig to supplement the varying income from the business. This resiliency will give you peace of mind.

  • At the beginning everyone is excited and ready to help. When help is needed, it’s hard to come by.

People want you to succeed, and as soon as you start will get excited for your success. However, not everyone is willing or available to help you when you’re in such need for help. What should you do? Find access to reliable resources to help you through the hard times, find mentors, find a business coach.

With all this in mind, you should now know that you will face unexpected challenges, and learn from every opportunity you have. These common challenges I mentioned are not the end of the world, and do not mean that running a business is impossible. Challenges and obstacles are there for you to improve yourself and your business, and once you get to such a point in your entrepreneurial adventure, you will be more than welcome at EGBI for training, coaching and support.

Shirts Write Men Business Help Discussion Two


Por Joni Foster

El primer paso para comenzar un negocio

Una de las primeras preguntas que le hago a un cliente nuevo es “¿Cuándo quieres abrir tu negocio? Dime una fecha”

Con frecuencia mi cliente me da una mirada incierta. El “No lo sé” es inaceptable. Nos sentamos juntos y decidimos una fecha; porque al establecer una fecha hace que las cosas caigan en su lugar.

Una vez que mi cliente ha dicho la fecha en voz alta, muy seguido su rostro se llena de emoción y terror todo al mismo tiempo. De emoción porque ahora suena real y de terror porque no sabe cómo hacerlo para que esto suceda.

Sin embargo, una vez puesto el objetivo podremos comenzar a hacer el plan. Inmediatamente hacemos una lista de lo que se tiene que hacer primero antes de que la fecha llegue. La lista comienza por decirnos que otras cosas necesita comprar y cuánto dinero necesita para comenzar. Si la fecha se tiene que cambiar, está bien. Solo necesitamos tener un objetivo para iniciar con el proceso.


Las metas son destinos anhelados. Las metas no son lo que tienes que hacer. Las metas son para hacerte saber cuándo ya has llegado. Las metas te dicen POR QUÉ estás haciendo lo que estás haciendo.

Los planes de hoy son el mejor acierto de COMO alcanzaras tu meta. Existen muchas formas “casi perfectas” para llegar a ella y casi nunca existe la “forma perfecta” para lograrlo. Existen formas “horriblemente malas” para llegar a ella. Las formas horriblemente malas a menudo son las mejores historias para una fiesta dentro de cinco años.

Las metas te dicen el destino de tu viaje, pero el viaje solo será divertido si te mantienes flexible durante el recorrido. Si esta es tu primera vez en este viaje, hay muchas cosas que ver y hacer durante todo el camino. Así que para que no andes con prisa por alcanzar tu meta, prepara tu viaje.

Cae rápido, cae seguido y cae hacia adelante. No puedes comenzar algo nuevo sabiendo cómo hacerlo.

El mejor asesor seria alguien que lo ha hecho anteriormente. Ya que puede contarte todos sus errores para que tú no tengas que cometerlos también.

Tiene que estar bien el cometer errores. Así es como aprendemos y crecemos.

Investiga, Planifica y Marcha

Hace algunos años, mi esposo y yo nos mudamos al campo. Para nosotros fue un ambiente muy extraño ya que la mayor parte de nuestra vida la vivimos en la ciudad. Pero Juntos teníamos un sueño, de tener nuestra pequeña parcela y ahora aquí estábamos. Muy pronto nos dimos cuenta de que no sabíamos como hacer todas las cosas que este nuevo ambiente requería. ¿Cómo construimos un gallinero? ¿Cómo arreglamos un techo con goteras? ¿Cómo mantenemos a los bichos fuera de la casa?

Diez años después, está es mi recomendación para enfrentar cosas nuevas:

  • Investigación: Encuentra gente de la localidad que sepa más que tú; y utiliza el internet para preguntar.
  • Planeación: Haz un plan, incluyendo cuánto te va a costar.
  • Acción: Sólo hazlo.

Por ser perfeccionista, el último punto ha sido el más difícil para mí. Ya que no quiero comenzar algo si no sé exactamente cómo hacerlo. Afortunadamente, mi esposo y yo desde un principio hicimos un pacto: No íbamos a permitir que el “no saber” no nos permitiera “hacerlo”. Nos dimos permiso para fracasar.

He aprendido a empezar con lo que sé, cometer muchos errores y hacerlo de nuevo. Ahora vemos alrededor de nuestra propiedad y nos sentimos muy orgullosos de todas las mejoras que le hemos hecho. También te puedo hablar de las historias de lo que no funcionó, pero muchas veces tuvimos que hacerlo mal antes de lograr hacerlo bien.

3 Ways to Keep Track of your Expenses & Income

By Anwuli Chukwurah

  1. The Traditional Way – Pen & Paper

This is one of the easiest ways to keep track of your books. Pen and Paper are materials you could find anywhere. I have clients who are not comfortable with technology so showing them an easy system with paper allows them to see their business transactions. Although I do try to push our clients to become more comfortable with technology, I realize people are starting at different stages. I tell all our clients, regardless of whether they’re using technology, to have 12 manila folders to keep their physical receipts, invoices, and other documents by month. Then, I ask clients to have a dedicated notebook to track their expenses and income. Clients need to track the date the transaction was made, where it’s from, the amount, and their income. The client will need to manually calculate their monthly net profit as compared to using a computer that does the calculations for you.

2. The Spreadsheet Way – Excel or Google Sheets

Using spreadsheets will allow our clients to electronically enter your transactions and share it with someone online. With spreadsheets, graphs and reports can easily be created from their entered transactions. This allows our clients to make business decisions based on their actual numbers. If you are not familiar with spreadsheets, you can search for local resources in your area that can teach you how to use it for your business purposes. A local nonprofit focused on helping business owners or the small business program of your city can be a great resource for finding help and support. For our clients at EGBI who are past the pen and paper stage but are not quite ready for an online accounting system, I show them how to use a simple spreadsheet tracker that tracks the date, amount, vendor/supplier, and income. This is an easy way for them to see how their business is doing on a monthly basis.

3. The Online Accounting System Way – QuickBooks Online

For clients that find using a spreadsheet to be cumbersome, an online accounting system like QuickBooks Online makes their lives easier and it can also be shared with someone else. It’s easier because they won’t have to manually document each transaction because QuickBooks Online automatically connects to their bank feed. But it’s harder because the client will need to learn how to correctly use the system so that their financial reports aren’t riddled with errors. Errors can be fixed if you know what you’re doing, but I ask our clients to come in and have a chat with me so I can show them the correct way to set up their QuickBooks. If your QuickBooks is set up incorrectly, it will cost the client more to retroactively fix their books. So, it’s always better for clients to search for local resources that can teach them how to correctly use QuickBooks if watching YouTube videos and reading QuickBooks tutorials wouldn’t work for them.