Back of the Napkin unfolds the ideas and innovations that help small business owners drive customer loyalty, develop, and retain employees and grow revenue—as told by the people who risked it all to chase their dream. Hosts Karen Stoychoff from SurePayroll and entrepreneur Dusty Weis talk with small business owners from across the country about their inspiration, success, hard knocks, lessons learned and relentless entrepreneurial spirit.
The insights shared by the small business owners featured on Back of the Napkin are especially important as the number of new business start-ups are increasing dramatically across the U.S. According to a recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, new business applications from the second half of 2020 through May 2021 mark the greatest on record since 2004.
At SurePayroll, we empower the dreams of small business. From online payroll, health insurance, 401(k), workers’ comp, pre-employment screening, and more, SurePayroll makes it easier for small business owners to focus less on payroll and taxes and spend more time doing what they love and do best.
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tinyB Chocolate Friday Fail: Tempering the Impact of a Bad Personnel Decision
Renata and Andrei Stoica from tinyB Chocolate in San Francisco, started a business based on the brigadeiro, a Brazilian confection. A brigadeiro is similar to – yet distinctly different from – fudge, ganache, truffles, or bonbons. The sweet, creamy, intensely flavored bite is perfect to scoop from a jar (spoons optional), gently shape into a ball, and roll in a variety of sweet or savory toppings.
The Stoica’s leveraged their passion for the brigadeiro into a virtual team-building experience that has since expanded to 52 countries and more than 31,000 orders, unwrapping a sweet spot in the competitive boutique chocolate marketplace. While company growth has been impressive, the Stoica’s at times traveled a rocky road.
Bytes of Chocolate
When tinyB Chocolate first started, tech entrepreneur Andrei was used to working in an arena where a solution was almost self-explanatory. Coding either worked or it didn’t. With their chocolate company, Andrei stepped into a business in a very crowded category where you had to differentiate. “Differentiation in marketing was a much bigger part of the business,” said Andrei. “And I wasn't as prepared for it as I should have been.” Read More ...
In addition, in the tech industry you tend to let a product come into its own before you come out with a 2.0 or 3.0 version. With chocolate, it is much easier to make changes by adding a new flavor and get instant feedback from customers. This allows for more experimentation and a constantly evolving product line. “In the beginning, I developed five flavors of chocolate and he (Andrei) wanted to keep only these flavors in the menu,” said Renata. “That's how technology works. If you have that product, let's sell that product. Chocolate is different, you have to be more creative and bring more different experiences for the customers.”
tinyB Chocolate Rolls Brigadeiros Virtual Team Building Experience to a Sweet Spot in the Boutique Chocolate Marketplace
Cities across the globe delight with tasty treats unique to their culture and geography. Wisconsin churns cheese. Illinois delivers Chicago deep-dish pizza. Michigan plates up the Detroit Coney. Brazil, the largest country in South America, rolls with the brigadeiro.
A brigadeiro is similar to – yet distinctly different from – fudge, ganache, a truffle, or a bonbon. The sweet, creamy, intensely flavored bite is perfect to scoop from a jar (spoons optional), gently shape into a ball, and roll in a variety of sweet or savory toppings.
Renata and Andrei Stoica, the husband-wife team behind tinyB Chocolate, introduced the Brazilian treat to residents and visitors to the San Francisco Bay area, and quickly expanded the business to 31,000 orders across 52 countries. Without question, tinyB Chocolate has found a sweet spot in the competitive boutique chocolate marketplace. Read on ...
Friday Fail: Paulo Hutson Solórzano on Navigating Expertise and Failing Up
When Paulo Hutson Solórzano from A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, TN, started his business, he decided “more is good,” and embraced any project that came his way. His mentor advised a different approach.
While he toiled away building small websites and picking up random projects, she recommended Solórzano instead focus on his core skills. She encouraged him to gradually build a portfolio that differentiated him in the marketplace.
Solórzano’s mentor proved to be correct.
“Her helping me navigate, really focusing and strategizing on where I wanted to take the company in the next three to five years, saved me a lot of time, which is money,” said Solórzano.
Learning to navigate your expertise can be a difficult journey for any entrepreneur. Instead of a winning growth strategy, being a “jack of all trades, master of none” can be a detriment to a small business.
Embracing Your Ninja Power
Read more ...
The Power of Cross-Cultural Inclusion with Paulo Hutson Solórzano
In this season 3 episode of Back of the Napkin, Paulo Hutson Solórzano, owner of A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, TN, talks the importance of cross-cultural inclusion, overcoming self-imposed barriers to networking, and the power of tooting your own horn.
From superheroes to how couples fell in love to the inspiration behind a small business, many people find origin stories fascinating. For Paulo Hutson Solórzano, owner of A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, TN, his story begins as the son of missionaries in rural Nicaragua. He believes the early life lessons of being active in his community and finding a way to make a difference for those around you impacts how he operates a small business and the projects he takes on.
Building Bridges with DEI
Since opening his business as a cross-cultural marketing and advertising agency in 2015, Solórzano has established an impressive client roster, featuring government, non-profit and corporate clients. While varied, his client roster is also uniquely connected through Solórzano’s focus on celebrating the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that enriches communities. The mission of A Medida is creating inclusivity by working across diverse markets, to maximize mainstream resources and reach. Read More ...
Friday Fail with Café L’Appetito: The Value of Knowing Your Business DNA
It seems like everything is on the fast track for Licia Accardo and Tony Spatara, owners of Cafe L'Appetito in Chicago. The siblings assumed ownership of the family restaurant in 2010 after their dad, Anthony Spatara, passed away. The restaurant turns 40 this year, a feat very few small business owners achieve, let alone those run by the second generation. In addition to the Gold Coast and West Loop locations, Accardo and Spatara have expanded Café L'Appetito to multiple satellite locations, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Soldier Field, United Center, and Midway Airport. Plus, the siblings added a booming catering operation.
But hard work doesn't always take the prize.
Take It to the ‘Burbs
After establishing a reputation throughout Chicago as a unique Italian cultural and food experience, Anthony Spatara envisioned a new location in the suburbs. “We thought about doing a Café L'Appetito in the suburb that we live in,” said daughter Licia Accardo. “We always saw this one space; they were going to revitalize the downtown area and this space was perfect.”
The idea was that Accardo, then a mom of two small children, would enjoy a shorter commute, more time with the family, and leverage her connection to the community where she lived. Spatara, Sr. thought the revitalized suburban enclave would become a “destination” and deliver similar foot traffic and comparable high-volume sales as the downtown location. But the father-daughter team learned quickly that the city concept—a one-stop Italian experience featuring a deli, coffee bar, Italian goods, and more—didn’t translate to the suburbs. Read More ...
Café L’Appetito owners Licia Accardo and Tony Spatara honor and evolve the family legacy to achieve greater success in the Chicago restaurant scene.
Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, Apple, Google, Facebook, Uber, and Microsoft. Companies that started as small businesses and changed the landscape in their respective industries. Yet only Apple and Microsoft predate the restaurant started by Anthony Spatara in a small grocery store in 1981 in Chicago's vibrant Italian enclave on the city's Northwest Side. Now owned and operated by siblings Licia Accardo and Tony Spatara, Café L’Appetito celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, with the second generation leading an impressive business expansion into major Chicago venues including Solider Field and the United Center.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 21% of small businesses make it to the 20-year mark. When it comes to second-generation businesses, more than 60% fail. Restaurants are historically among the toughest small businesses to own and operate. So, what is the secret to the longevity of Café L’Appetito? Accardo and Spatara believe it’s the balance between two competing mantras—don’t mess up a good thing and changing with the times.
Accardo and Spatara have honored their father's vision and expanded well beyond simply serving as caretakers of his legacy. They've creatively diversified the business and invested in opportunities that keep Café L'Appetito a vibrant and must-visit establishment for Chicagoans and visitors to the Windy City. Read more ...
Thanks Karen and Dusty!
I appreciate how these hosts bring on guests that give their audience the true story behind their successes and even failures. Quality production, keep it up!
send him to wuhan to save us from covid
It is super interesting to hear everyone's story and how they started out. Their scenarios are very relatable. I especially like the Friday Fails. I love hearing how they turned a bad situation into a positive.