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Meet our Volunteer – Shelly Cruz

By Diana Garcia

Meet Shelly, a 3rd  generation Austinite. Shelly has firsthand experience of breaking the cycle of generational poverty as she lived in affordable housing projects as a child and became the first college graduate in her family. She attended Texas State University’s McCoy College of Business where she received her BBA in Economics. Shelly’s work experience has included a diverse mix of industries and roles. She has worked in nonprofit economic development, banking, and HUD affordable housing compliance. She has a passion for community engagement and is heavily involved in community service and volunteerism with local nonprofit organizations. She currently serves as the Engagement and Giving Coordinator with the Tito’s Handmade Vodka philanthropy team.

Shelly shares her experience as a volunteer with EGBI and how you can get involved too.

Hi Shelly! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
A fave hobby of mine is exploring trails around Austin. Although I grew up here, I still have not explored every one. There’s so many! I have two children and this is a go-to weekend morning outing for us. Also, it is not uncommon for me to utilize a walk through a trail as a meeting option with friends and colleagues. I love theexperience of seeing, hearing, and feeling all that nature has to offer.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?
I have been involved with EGBI over the years in various capacities. I have had the opportunity to volunteer my time with EGBI by serving on the Marketing Committee and also by assisting with the annual Celebrating Success fundraiser. In my previous role with the Housing Authority for the City of Austin, an organization that helped found EGBI, I was able to deepen my knowledge and relationship with the mission EGBI serves by working with residents who were able to start their entrepreneurial journey because of EGBI. It was amazing to witness these stories unfold and see residents thrive in ways they never thought was possible.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?
Community impact is driven by community members banding together and creating solutions. Volunteerism is the element that puts this concept into action. Every individual has overcome unique challenges and struggles and each of these perspectives brings value to create viable solutions that can benefit the overall good. I can speak firsthand to the benefits volunteerism can have as I was a child of poverty myself who oftentimes found myself on the receiving end of goodwill. I would not have been able to accomplish the goals I have had it not
been for organizations and their volunteers who provided tools and resources needed to succeed. This is the power of community impact and exemplifies how volunteerism is essential to empowering individual successes and results in stronger communities.

“EGBI provides tools and resources for the most vulnerable entrepreneurs and supporting this organization provides the necessary assistance to
widen the reach and capacity of the organization in order to provide greater economic development in our communities.” – Shelly Cruz

Why do you think it is important to volunteer at EGBI?
EGBI provides support to the entrepreneurs that need it the most. Starting a business is one of the most vulnerable challenges an individual can take on and the need for resources to mitigate the barriers involved is essential. Volunteering with and supporting EGBI provides the necessary assistance to widen the reach and capacity of the organization in order to provide greater economic development.

Last question, do you have a favorite experience about volunteering with EGBI?
My favorite experiences with EGBI involve working with Monica Peña on the marketing committee and witnessing her passion and expertise. Her excitement for the mission of EGBI is contagious and makes our projects fun and exciting. I also love the annual ice cream socials because I am able to see various supporters and clients of EGBI come together and unite.


In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Shelly 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 get involved.

Why Your Business Needs A Facebook or Instagram Business Profile

By: Aditya Patwardhan

With communications nowadays happening a lot on the Internet, the importance of social media cannot be understated. Social media is a tool that allows businesses to increase their visibility, redirecting traffic toward them, and maintain strong connections in the online world. If businesses are strategic about their content, posting to social media can be a massive edge over the competition. Here are some reasons why it is crucial to get a Facebook Business page and an Instagram business account. I will first cover Facebook Business Pages and then cover Instagram business accounts. (Note that many of the advantages of Facebook Business pages are also advantages of Instagram Business accounts.)

Advantages of a Facebook Business Pages 

Facebook Business pages can help your business by building your company’s online identity. A Facebook Business page helps viewers find out about your company and understand the products and services it offers. A well-designed page also shows the company’s culture and values. This kind of authenticity helps retain current customers and can appeal to potential customers. Well-run pages frequently post content and interact with or mention their audience, keeping members of their audience engaged and interacting with your business.

Another benefit of using a Facebook Business page is having access to specialized tools not included with a personal profile. An example of this is Insights. Insights collects data about your viewers, such as demographics, and their interactions with the page. This lets the business owner analyze trends among their viewers. If used effectively, this is a significant improvement over using a personal account.

Finally, Facebook Business pages can help spread awareness of your business and increase traffic to your business’s other pages. For example, you can post about important events your company is involved in organizing and post links to find out more. Then, viewers who click the link are redirected to learn more on another page, increasing viewership and also keeping users interactive.

Advantages of a Instagram Business Pages

Similar to the benefits of using a Facebook Business page over a personal account, there are benefits to using a Business Account on Instagram. One advantage is the ability to pre schedule posts, or write many posts ahead of time to be published at predetermined times. This is more efficient, since you can write many posts in a single sitting. Furthermore, pre scheduling posts is an effective way to increase viewership, by scheduling posts for when your company’s audience is the most active online.

Instagram as a platform also offers advantages that Facebook doesn’t. According to this article, Instagram has a younger user base, with most users being under 30. Using Instagram can therefore help your business cater to a wider demographic and attract more clients. Also, Facebook and Instagram are best suited for different types of posts. Facebook is best for posts with lots of text, while posts with lots of photos tend to do well on Instagram.

Using a Facebook and Instagram Business account will allow you to run targeted ads based on the user’s specific interest and habits.  Overall, in today’s age, social media is an important investment for any company’s marketing strategy. Knowing different platforms and their features can help your business succeed in forming a larger, more connected network of clients.

Can’t find workers? You’re not alone

By Joni Foster, Program Director with EGBI

“Why are American workers becoming harder to find?”, an article this week in The Economist found that total job vacancies nationwide are at the highest level for at least 2 decades. There are plenty of unfulfilled positions, causing a labor shortage, even though employers are offering higher pay. 

The online zine, The Hill, noted that “as of March this year (2021) the U.S. was still 8.4 million jobs short of pre-pandemic levels, a year after the economy lost more than 21 million jobs amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unemployment rate has since dropped to 6 percent, but it does not reflect millions of Americans who left the labor force because of the pandemic. While there are still millions of unemployed people still looking for work, restaurants, bars, fast food, retailers are having trouble hiring to meet the surging demand.”

The Economist article explored three reasons. First, over-generous stimulus checks and bonus unemployment; yet studies don’t back this one up during this pandemic. Stimulus checks were a huge help when there really weren’t jobs available during the height of the pandemic. 

The second reason was the fear factor, the fear of Covid, to work in jobs that are public facing. Hopefully, vaccines should be bringing this reason to a close over the next few months. 

Lastly, the extraordinary reallocation of resources accelerated by the pandemic, meaning the huge shift in where the jobs are both in locations and sectors. McKinsey & Company published a report on Feb 18, 2021 on the future of work after Covid 19 that started with a startling quote: The pandemic accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation, with up to 25 percent more workers than previously estimated potentially needing to switch occupations.

McKinsey & Company also studied the effect of Covid on women in the workforce, particularly women with children under 10 years old. In an article published March 8, 2021, a study last year found nearly 23 percent of women workers were considering leaving the workforce in 2020. Many women left the workforce to help their children through the school year will likely/hopefully be ready to get back to work in the fall assuming vaccines put the pandemic behind us.

Economists believe that this hiring issue will work itself out in the next several months. In the meantime, a caution to  employers to about offering higher salaries if they can’t sustain that salary into the future. To offer a high salary now just to reduce it later will bring big morale and productivity problems later. 

It might mean, too, that business might start looking at new ways to staff their operations. McKinsey concludes that businesses can start with a granular analysis of what work can be done remotely by focusing on the tasks involved rather than whole jobs. For businesses with jobs with high physical proximity, these are likely to experience the most disruption post-covid. 



Plan de Negocios para tu Guardería

Escrito por Leonardo Pozzobon, coordinador de programas

Qué es y qué no es un plan de negocios

Un plan de negocios NO es la solución mágica definitiva para los problemas de tu negocio; eso depende únicamente de la ejecución adecuada. Sin embargo, un plan de negocios SI es una guía bastante útil para mostrarte el camino hacia la rentabilidad, listando los desafíos y recursos necesarios para alcanzar la rentabilidad. En la vida real, es muy probable que eventualmente consigas obstáculos que no habías previsto, o que consideraste cosas inicialmente que vas a descartar luego, pero no debes dejar que esto te desanime; recuerda “Un plan es inútil, pero la planificación lo es todo”. Eventualmente puede que encuentres una mejor oportunidad o un mejor mercado que te haga cambiar de opinión sobre algo, pero con este proceso sabrás dónde te encuentras inicialmente y hacia dónde quieres ir.

Qué incluye un plan de negocios

Dicho esto, vamos a pensar en lo que se incluye en un plan de negocios. Pero primero, un negocio sólo será un negocio si y sólo si ha identificado un problema o una necesidad que puedes resolver o atender, si puede proporcionar la solución adecuada y encontrar al cliente ideal que tendrá este problema, siempre y cuando esté dispuesto y en capacidad de pagarte a cambio de tu solución. La forma de encontrar un problema y resolverlo dependerá del tipo de negocio y el producto o servicio, al igual que las regulaciones que necesitas comprender y aplicar; pero encontrar el cliente y el precio ideal es solo una parte de los planes de Marketing y Finanzas. Lógicamente, debes atender estos temas en tu “camino hacia el éxito”, o plan de negocios:

  • Problema / Solución (qué harás y cómo)
  • Plan de Marketing (quién es tu cliente y cómo lo encuentras)
  • Plan de Finanzas (cómo estás ganando dinero)
  • Operaciones (cómo estás dando o produciendo tu solución)

Construyendo mi plan de negocios

Imaginemos el ejemplo de un negocio de cuidado infantil, que brinda un servicio casi invaluable a las familias trabajadoras: cuidar de manera segura a los jóvenes mientras los padres trabajan para llevar comida a la mesa. Lo que hace 200 años pudo haber sido un papel para la familia extendida, en este mundo industrializado, los adultos jóvenes se mudan lejos del hogar y de la familia. Ahora, en el mundo post-pandemia y la gran mudanza a lugares más económicos, es aún más importante comprender las partes de un buen plan de negocios para aprovechar las nuevas oportunidades.

Empiece por analizar las necesidades y deseos de tu cliente. Lo más cómodo para un padre es dejar a sus hijos cuando van y vienen del trabajo, por lo que tu mejor opción es estar cerca de zonas residenciales u oficinas, y encontrar la mejor manera de conectarse con estos segmentos de clientes. Conectarse con tu cliente ideal es el siguiente paso en tu estrategia de marketing, y no debes dejar de invertir en los elementos más básicos de una estrategia estándar: mantener una imagen limpia y segura, ser visible y fácil de encontrar desde la calle y tener una presencia online actualizada. Cuando decides dar el paso para contactar directamente a grupos de padres, recuerda que estos se forman espontáneamente alrededor de alguna plataforma o sistema, y estos varían de una ciudad a otra. Un vecindario puede comunicarse usando Facebook, mientras a seis cuadras de distancia otro vecindario puede usar Nextdoor, y  un tercero puede usar simplemente una simple cartelera como en los viejos tiempos. Lo último es que recuerdes ser coherente con los recursos que tendrás disponibles para ejecutar tu estrategia de Marketing, e investigar bien antes de salir a gastar dinero.

Pasando al tema del dinero, recuerda que una empresa no se arruina si pierde más dinero del que gana, sino cuando se queda sin efectivo. ¿Qué significa esto? Significa que necesitas tener ahorros suficientes para cubrir tu primera semana, mes o año; el tiempo necesario que le tomará al negocio aumentar sus ventas y generar ganancias para el dueño. ¿Qué significa eso para ti? Empieza haciendo un presupuesto de todo, pero primero que nada, toma nota de todo lo que necesitas gastar para abrir, todo lo que necesitas gastar mensualmente para que el negocio siga abierto, y lo que debes gastar en tu producto o servicio. O en la jerga de CPA: tus costos iniciales, tus costos fijos, y tus Costos de Bienes Vendidos (COGS). Todo, como siempre, dependerá tanto de tus decisiones de inversión como de los recursos que tengas disponibles. Existe una gran diferencia en la inversión inicial y los costos mensuales entre las opciones:

  • Compra de un inmueble
  • Arrendamiento de un lugar

El dinero que tengas disponible puede limitar un lado de lo que puedes hacer (el número de niños que puedes atender limita la otra parte). Entonces, primero descubre qué recursos tienes disponibles, cómo es tu gran visión de un centro de cuidado infantil, y luego investiga los costos e inversiones necesarios para alcanzar tu visión. Eso se convertirá en el punto de partida de tu plan financiero.

Hasta ahora, todo sobre lo que he hablado es gastar, gastar, gastar; veamos el ingreso. Brindar la solución a un problema, ya sea vendiendo un producto físico o vendiendo su tiempo y conocimiento, siempre traerá ciertos costos asociados con cada unidad de producto o servicio que venda. Ese costo es lo que llamamos Costo de Bienes Vendidos. Esto definirán, en primer lugar, la cantidad más baja que puedes cobrar, y te da una guía sobre qué precio definir. Finalmente, la cantidad de clientes a los que podrás atender define tus Ventas, resta tus COGS y tendrás tu Ganancia Bruta estimada. Este monto es lo que usarás para cubrir tus gastos fijos, pagos de préstamos, nómina y la ganancia del dueño. Aquí está la gran importancia de hacer una estimación buena y realista de todos sus gastos, fijos y variables. Si cometes el error de sobreestimar la cantidad de niños a los que puedes atender, no cubrirás tus costos; subestima tus gastos de alquiler, servicios públicos o nómina, y es posible que no le quede ganancia al negocio. Un pequeño error puede significar que tu negocio ya no es sostenible.

Esta es una descripción muy breve de todo lo que debes tener en cuenta al hacer tu plan de negocios para un Centro de Cuidado Infantil. Si quieres profundizar en cualquiera de estos temas, no dude en comunicarte con EGBI para una sesión de coaching.

Business Plan for Your Childcare Business

By Leonardo Pozzobon, Program Coordinator with EGBI

A business plan is NOT the be-all-end-all magic solution to your business problems; that will lie only in your adequate execution. A business plan is, however, a guide to show the path to profitability, listing your challenges and needs to get there. You may eventually reach roadblocks that you hadn’t anticipated, you may consider things initially that you then discard, and you shouldn’t let this discourage you; remember “Plans are useless, but Planning is everything”. You may eventually find a better opportunity or a better market that makes you change your mind on something, but you will know where you stand initially and where to go.

That being said, let’s think about what goes into a Business Plan. But first, a Business is only a business if you have identified a Problem or Need that you want to solve or address, if you can provide the right Solution for it, and find the right Customer who will have this problem, as long as he or she is willing and able to Pay you in exchange for your solution. The way to find and solve any given problem is unique to that industry, as are the regulations you need to navigate; finding the ideal customer and ideal price is just part of the Marketing and Financial plans. Thus, logically these should be addressed on your “road to success”, or Business Plan:

  • Problem / Solution (what you’ll do and how)
  • Marketing Plan (who’s your client and how will you find them)
  • Finance Plan (how are you making money)
  • Operations (how are you making more of your solution)

I want to look at the example of a Childcare Business, which provides a near priceless service to working families: Caring safely for the young while parents work to bring food to the table. What 200 years ago might’ve been a role for the extended family, in this industrialized world young adults move far from home and family. Now in the post pandemic move to more affordable places, it’s even more important to understand the parts of a good business plan to take advantage of new opportunities. 

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Start by looking at the needs and wants of your customer. Parents will most often want to drop off their children when going to and from work, so your best bet is to be close to home or work, and to find how to best connect with these customer segments. Connecting with your ideal customer is the next step on your marketing strategy, and you should not neglect investing in the most basic items of a standard strategy: maintaining a clean and safe image, being visible and easy to find from the street, and having an updated online presence. When directly doing outreach to parent groups, remember these form spontaneously around whatever platform or system that gets traction, and these vary from town to town. A neighborhood can communicate using Facebook, six blocks away another neighborhood can use Nextdoor, and yet a third one can just use an old school bulletin board. It’s okay to bootstrap your marketing strategy, just as well as it is to have money to spend, just make sure that you spend your money wisely, and research before.

Moving on to the money topic, remember that a business doesn’t go bankrupt if it’s losing more money than what it makes, it goes bankrupt when it runs out of Cash. What does this mean? It means you want to build a war chest large enough to cover your first week, or month, or year, however long it takes you to start making a profit and paying yourself. What does that mean, again? Do a budget, find out what your spending categories are, find out everything you need to spend to open, to stay open, and to serve your customers. Or in CPA lingo: your Start-up Costs, your Fixed Costs, and your Cost Of Goods Sold (COGS). Everything, as usual, will depend on both your investment decisions and the resources available to you; there’s a huge difference in initial investment and monthly costs between purchasing real estate and leasing a place, and your available funding caps one side of what you can and cannot do (your Total Addressable Market caps the other side). So first decide what you have available to invest, what your grand vision of a childcare center looks like for you, and then research all the costs and investments needed to reach your vision with your available resources. That will then become the starting point of your Financial plan.

So up until now, all I’ve talked about is spending, spending, spending, let’s get to making money. Providing the solution to a problem, be it selling a physical product or selling your time and knowledge, will always bring certain costs associated with each unit of product or service that you sell; that is what we call Cost Of Goods Sold. These will define, first, the lowest amount you can charge, and give you some guidance on what price to set for your services. Finally, the # of clients you serve will determine your income, subtract your COGS and you’ll have your estimated Gross Profit. This is what you’ll use to cover your fixed expenses, loan payments, payroll and your final income. So you see how important it is to do a good, realistic estimation on all your expenses, fixed and variable. Overestimate the # of children you can serve, and you won’t cover your costs; underestimate your rent, utilities, or payroll expenses, and you may not have any money left to pay yourself. One underestimation may mean your business is no longer sustainable. 

This is a very short description of everything you need to consider when making your Business Plan for a childcare business. If you would like to go deeper on any of these topics, feel free to reach out to Economic Growth Business Incubator (EGBI) for a coaching session.