CINCINNATI — Starting a business during the pandemic has been a challenge for many entrepreneurs. According to the Census Bureau’s recent Small Business Pulse Survey, almost 45% of business owners said the pandemic has had a moderate negative effect on their business.
But many of them are finding help through places like the Small Business Development Center.
Smoothies have always been a part of Isaac Hamlin’s diet. It was what gave him energy while playing rugby in college, and he wanted to share that with others.
“I realized there was a market for these kinds of things, especially in a society where people are starting to care a lot about how they look and especially how they feel,” said Hamlin.
That’s when he started Better Blend, a smoothie business in Cincinnati. But these aren’t just your regular smoothies.
“We have flavors like brownie batter, peanut butter pie, stuff like that. Indulgences that would usually be a treat, but we’re able to transform them into something that is a meal filled with protein, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants,” he said.
Hamlin opened his first location in 2018 and then his second location shortly after. But opening his third location was a challenge.
“The pandemic hit, and all of these things started happening, and we needed someone to help navigate the waters,” he said.
That’s when he reached out to Gino DiGiovanni with the Small Business Development Center or SBDC. It’s a service offered through the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. Free one-on-one business counseling and business assessment evaluation are just some of the things they offer.
“That’s one of those things that SBDC really focused on is knowing your numbers, knowing your profit margins, knowing your cash flow and how that’s different and being able to get from point A to point B especially when you don’t know how much you’re going to make next month because you don’t know what the pandemic is going to do,” he said.
Since connecting with SBDC Hamlin’s business has been able to grow his business even more. He hopes to make it a franchise by this summer. He said entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to use outside help when starting or growing their businesses.
“It’s OK to outsource and ask people questions who are smarter than you, and I promote that to the ends of the earth,” he said. “If you don’t know something, somebody out there does.”