Better Smarter Richer

  • Solo Business Stories: Chris Pero Design art installations transform corporate settings

    Pero Desings offers framing services and installations.

    Chris Pero of Pero Designs at her art installation at Daimler Trucks.

    How a layoff and being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis results in Chris Pero founding perodesign art & framing.

    Chris Pero has been an artist and framing art since childhood, 
    and started framing professionally when she was in college.

    Business name and what it does:  Chris Pero Design art installation and framing. Founded in 2008.

    Backstory:  Chris writes, “When I was diagnosed with MS,  I was not 100% sure what on earth was in store for me.  I really thought I was healthy.  After talking to people, I knew it would best to keep the stress in my life down as much as I could.   I was laid off at that same time,  so I had time to think about what was next. I had the opportunity to design my own future.

    “It wasn’t long before my former clients were calling me asking me where I was working and that is when perodesign art & framing began.    I was talking to a framer, and now mentor, about hiring me at her frame shop.  She highly recommended being a consultant.  She knew I knew the industry well and  thought it would be a great way to manage my own time and energy.  She was right!  Yes,  I still have MS,  but I think I am healthier now that I ever have been.”   

    Her connections continue to give her work, and she has been able to attract larger clients.  She recently completed an installation for Daimler Trucks headquarters in April 2017. and has another big project coming up with SAIF.

    Chris’s mission is to work with companies to help them get art on their walls that shows off what they do best:  “I research the company so I have an idea about their mission.   When we meet,  I ask them what they are trying to accomplish with art on their walls.  I work with each client individually to brainstorm ideas for them in their space. Everything is customized for the space and the client.  Every client is a little different.  Right now, I am designing some things with an artist who makes wall sculptures that we are proposing to a customer for their elevator lobbies as a form of way-finding.   

    What’s working now?   “I have always provided framing services.  I do not frame personally,  but have framers who do.”  Chris adds, “People I contract with to help me with different aspects, i.e. blogging, art searching, book keeping, installation, framing, printing.”

    Pricing her work has been tricky, but she is able to articulate her value and expertise. Clients often choose to work with her because of her skill and expertise even if she has the more expensive bid.  “Because they knew of my expertise,” Pero says.


    Take Away:   “I took the Encore / Solo Business Builders Class with Jackie.   I really got my mission-focused and fine tuned.  Now I can easily tell people what it is I do and they “get it.”  She adds that other things were dividing her attention.  “I was mission creeping all over the place.  But I learned how to say no to the wrong work and not worry about it.  And yes,  I did raise my prices.  It was hard (for me mentally)  but my clients have not made a fuss about it.   This class was SO worth it!    Sure I have been in business since 2008,  but this year has been the most profitable,  and I think it was all stemmed from what I learned in Jackie’s class.”  

    Jackie offers classes at the Encorepreneur Cafe.  Check here for class/workshop schedule.










  • Solo Business Story: Patty Bennett’s Thriving at Home aging in place business is thriving

    Thriving at Home LLC fulfills service gaps needed by older adults.  And Patty Bennett credits Jackie B. Peterson’s Unique Value Proposition technique with strengthening her business message.

    Patty Bennett and her mother.

    Patty Bennett and her mother Marianne.  Patty started Thriving At Home to empower older adults who choose to stay in their home safely.

    The path that led Patty to establish Thriving at Home LLC:

    “In 2005, when my children were in school all day, I decided to head out and get back into the workforce,” Patty writes.  “I took a career test at Rock Creek PCC.  It said should I look at careers in Geriatric Social Work. Hmm, I thought. That makes sense as I always loved being around my grandparents and my 20 great aunts and uncles.”

    Patty continues, “That same week my neighbor Allen’s dog showed up at my door and led me back to his house where Allen was close to going into a diabetic coma. That day led to 4 years of managing his 24/7 home-care as Allen’s family lived far away. Allen did not want to go to a senior living community, so I created a home environment that was safe for him, created a daily activity program for him that included physical activities inside and out of the home—he loved to swim so we found local pools that he could swim at.  I learned so much in those 4 years, especially what ‘was not available for him’.”

    Sadly Allen passed away.  A few months after that Laurel Parc Senior Living Community Center opened.  Patty checked it out. “On that day began a wonderful seven year journey of working all aspects in a Senior Community Living. I drove the bus, I worked the reception area, I was an Activity Director and Event Coordinator, and finally Director of Resident Experiences.

    “During this time, I also took care of my mom in her last years. I was one of those that they are labeling as the ‘Sandwich’ generation: taking care of both my mother, children and working full time.

    “My ‘journey’ has given me so much insight to what seniors and their families are facing today when they begin their journey of ‘aging.’ By circumstance I have become a specialist in the process of aging, and have chosen to ‘Pay it Forward’.”

    What’s working now?  Patty her elevator pitch and with Jackie’s help turned it into a Unique Value Proposition. She now calls herself a specialist which makes it easy to communicate her business message.  She can now network with confidence.

    Lessons learned/take away/advice:  “Jackie helped me zero in on my specialty and how to communicate it to my target market,” Patty says.  “She helped me define my pricing and structure my service levels.”  Patty said she now knows how to differentiate her business from other businesses.  Lastly she says she feels strongly motivated to build her solo business.

    Final thoughts: “Don’t give up. Continue to use all the resources you can from the SBA, Score and Climb. They will help motivate you and help you believe in your vision and yourself.”

    Want Jackie’s valuable help?  She is teaching classes at the Encorepreneur Cafe in November. Learn more and sign up for classes here.





  • Solo Business Success: Painter Nancy Klos talks about the ups, downs being a working artist

    Artist Nancy Klos

    Artist Nancy Klos

    Name of Business: Atelier NAN of Klos Studios…est. 1990

    What the Business Does:  Create original works of art for a national clientele:  Paintings, drawings done En Plein Air, Alla Prima.  Commissions welcome.

    Currently teaches adult classes and workshops, private and semi-private lessons are available, including Individual Study.

    How long have you been doing this? “Since 1990…27 years!”

    When did you start creating art?  “I have always studied and created art. My degree is

    in Fine Art, Art History and French. I have designed, knitwear, created large scale tapestries and now produce paintings in ink and oils. I have created for as long as I can remember!”

    What’s working now?  Nancy is constantly entering her artwork in shows, loading artwork onto Facebook and Instagram.  She knows how important it is to market her wares everyday.  She has been on OPB’s Oregon Art Beat three times: 2002, 2004, 2006.  HGTV featured her in 2000.  Nancy was recently contacted by Southwest Art magazine, for an article titled “Women in Art.”  But, despite all the pay off promotion yields, more promotion goes on top of that.  “Even with an article in this magazine, I still have to get the word out.”

    Nancy has taught art for years, because she loves teaching the “language of art.”  “I love helping people find their voice.”  She teaches kindergarten through adult levels.

    “I have a website set up by collections.  I also practice Sumi-E which has influenced the way I paint and see the design and com-positional elements.”

    “Now I find it very challenging to sell my paintings.  I am currently looking for a gallery to represent my work.  I am also trying to be better at selling online/directly from my studio.”

    “Try to paint everyday in some small way and in larger parts of the day. En Plein AIr is usually a three to four hour commitment. Alla Prima in the studio can be in smaller time frames with works over time. Teaching refreshes me.”

    BSR Take Away:  Nancy knows the importance of getting out there.  Online and in person.  Artists and all solos have to publicize what they do.  Even when national media profiles you, don’t sit back, share the media and let everyone know. It is important to take advantage of any publicity that comes your way.  

    Nancy took Jackie’s Encore Entrepreneur class recently.  You can too by checking the events link on this web site.

    Note: Translation of her studio’s name: “Atelier” is French for studio.  “NAN” is the Chinese version of her name.

  • Solo Business Stories: Polly Bangs creates Urban Excursions providing elderly activities

    Polly Bangs and her dad. Her dad was the inspiration for Urban Excursians.

    Polly Bangs saw a need for socialization for seniors who may be otherwise isolated. So, she launched Urban Excursions. Pictured here with her father Cameron.

    Polly Bangs has a history of creating social ventures that help people.  Urban Excursions is her latest, providing the elderly with social activities.

    Name of business: Urban Excursions.  It celebrates its five year anniversary November 2017.

    What the business does: Seven years ago, Polly Bangs moved her father to live with her.  Despite his dementia,

    he still had a positive outlook on life.  Polly looked for activities for her dad, but most services offered bingo or trips to the grocery store.  “Basic needs are covered, but not more than that,” she says.  Polly’s dad wanted to go on outings.

    What was the path that led to this venture? A trained social worker, Polly ran Pasta Bangs, an eatery that employed as risk youth.  She did this for a few years prior to founding Urban Excursions.

    What’s working now: Urban Excursions offers two kinds of outings: low key get togethers for those who are looking for social interaction.  Plus, there is an exploratory group that is more involved.  Outings can be purchased online.

    Polly gets the word out using all forms of media: including television ads, presentations, events

    Urban Excursions at Blue Lake.

    Urban Excursions at Blue Lake.

    .  Now word of mouth is working quite well.

    Take Away:  “I wish I had done this earlier.”

    Polly took an advanced business course from Jackie, helping guide her through this process.  You too can contact Jackie to learn about upcoming courses and the support she offers to growing businesses. Jackie’s work always aims at helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and goals. Call her! 503-224-5910








  • Encore Entrepreneur Stories: Roland Zapata bounces back with home inspection solo business after lay off

    After 17 years in the corporate world, Roland Zapata was laid off.  Eventually, He explored a solo career doing home inspections and soon his company, Ideal Home Inspections LLC launched.  Roland wonders why he didn’t do this sooner.

    What the business does:  Ideal Home Inspections LLC offer home buyers an in-depth inspection of their future home.  In addition, IHI offers homeowners who are thinking about selling Pre-Inspections.  This process gives sellers the chance to correct any items that would prevent them from getting the maximum sale value of their home.

    Roland’s business also offers 72 hour continuous radon testing as well as Lead Based Paint Testing.  He is becoming a Home Energy Assessor (to be completed by the early Fall 2017).  Concurrently, Roland is taking the steps necessary to come a certified Commercial Inspector for businesses less than 10,000 square feet (to be completed by November 1, 2017).

    This is going to give Roland several strong streams of income for his company. He is never again going to count on one customer or one product. He believes that being laid off taught him a difficult lesson; don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

    Roland’s Journey of re-imagining, re-creation, re-visioning:  After 17 years of corporate sales, Roland was laid off, told to clean out his office and his whole working career was turned upside down and disappeared within 30 minutes.  Roland was really surprised and took some time to recover from the lay off.  He began a process of self-exploration, and looked into home inspections.  He said he had always worked on houses and that his father was a general contractor so he was very familiar with the building industry.

    “Getting out of your comfort zone is important for a solo business”, says Roland.   “Establishing relationships with realtors, title companies, brokers, and contractors has also been important for me. People come and go in this business.  It takes a bit of effort to get regular work.”
    Roalnd likes working with first time home buyers because he has been through that process.  “I alleviate their concerns and fears.  I know what they are going through.”

    Roland adds that follow through and integrity are key.  “If you don’t have that, your credibility goes south fairly quickly.”  He now has six regular clients.

    BSR Take Away:   “When first starting out, it’s vital to meet as many people as you can. Develop a network that is actively promoting you and your services.  Knocking on doors, Facebook, and LinkedIn are some ways Roland markets.  He recently got six contacts on Alignable.

    “Integrity— follow through is extremely important.  I work with six real estate companies on a fairly consistent basis.”  His goal is to increase his client base.
    Roland concludes, “If you are going to own your business, be prepared to work 24/7.  Being self-employed means everyday is a work day.  You know what?  Two years later, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I absolutely love every minute of it!!!  I wish I had become a home inspector 10 years ago.”