-Lance Mitchell, Mitch Hill Dairy
I am lucky, I was able to do that for over 20 years. I didn't get paid well, but I made a living doing what I love to do. I didn't worry about a paycheck and I was able to pay my bills in a relatively timely manner.
Then....well let's just say... I am worrying a little more now. As my layoff from the Derrick seemed to become more and more permanent and the reality that unemployment cannot last forever, I realized I might need to rethink who I am a bit.
Yes, I started doing stories on my own almost immediately after being handed a pink slip. I was on top of it all. I was honing my story telling skills, but, deep down, I was still expecting to return to the paper. I love that newspaper. So I wasn't trying to collect any kind of advertising or sponsorships at first.
Many people began to offer to help. I was doing ok, COVID relief funding was buying me time so I could simply just return to work. When that began to run out I started a little fundraiser to get me jump started to put out a print product prototype. But then there was an extension to relief and around that time I suffered a bit of an injury that also set me back.
I knew it was time to get my ass in gear and get my life focussed on the next thing. Start a newspaper(even I chuckled at this notion), go back to studio photography, enter the world of professional lawn bowling, become a pauper living on the street or ask mom if she needed a roommate down in Florida.
The last is always an option because... well... mom loves me.
But it really isn't an option for me, neither is becoming homeless. I'm a good lawn bowler(true story) but not much of a living to be made in this country. I love photography and storytelling so a studio also isn't appealing, though likely more profitable than my other options.
So starting a newspaper was my only real direction. Lord knows a real job wouldn't be good for me.
I like to to work, I don't like to think about how to make work...you know...work. The idea of being a "business owner" seemed absurd.
Many friends have offered help and assistance but I have one major flaw, I don't know how to accept help. I really don't. To me I dug the hole so now I need to find what to plant in it. Asking others burdens them. I truly know it does.
In stepped my friend and the queen of Franklin, Ronnie Beith. I won't say she forced me to do something I didn't want to do, but she firmly suggested it is something I need do and basically signed me up for a class.
Yes, a business class. She got me to confront my demon.
She had started the Small Business Jump Start program years ago and it has helped countless businesses around the region. You'd be hard-pressed to find a business in Franklin that hasn't dipped at least a toe or two into the waters of this program.
Gary Svetz, an entrepreneur and business consultant runs the classes now and for the last nine weeks, give or take, I have joined a small group every Thursday to learn what we need to really be thinking about if we're serious about putting out our own shingle.
Gary asked us at one point what our product was and I hesitated. I write stories and make photographs and hope people care. Is hat a product? I am in over my head I thought! He said it is a service and therefore a product.
As the class progressed I began to understand the gestalt of money conceptualization. What seemed foreign was beginning to break down into some pieces that seem a little more manageable - if I keep it simple. And at first that is how Gary suggests keeping it. "You need to make money before you worry about that." he'd say. We all have fears. He broke those down into little things that looked like little things instead of Everest-sized hills.
Learning what cash flow means and how people will work with you as long as you eventually can pay them was important, but emphasis is still on paying them. A service is, in a sense, a product. Hugely important knowledge, And that worth isn't something to be ashamed of, though I think a couple of us in the class are still struggling with that. We have worth. Lets make this a mantra!
If you have something people need or want, only getting in your own way will bring about failure.
So I'm taking my skeptical, afraid little self and pushing him aside. I am going to send forward with a hearty pat of good luck on the back, my confident self-assured, camera in hand self. I am severing my vows of poverty right here, right now.
We'll see where this goes. I just want to keep telling this community's story.
Kathy Licht is a well established owner of Warner's Bakery, the famed originator of the Eat-n-Park Smiley Cookie. Licht is always learning and wanted to brush up on new business skills as she and her husband expand their bakery business and get ready to open up a new restaurant in Titusville that will also offer new items to their current bakery locations in Titusville, Franklin and Tionesta.
Check out more by click here to take you Warner's Bakery Facebook page.
Holly Bell may have said the sweetest thing I've ever heard about moving to a small town. "I am so excited to be able to raise my kids in a place with people like you," she told the class. Bell has already started her custom cookie business called Wild Flour Custom Cookies. She took the time to make us all our own cookie for our business. She is gifted and a very sweet soul. If you scroll down I used a picture of me and my cookie for my story, Visit her facebook page for more.
Curtis Cooper and his wife Jen are deeply spiritual people who stopped our final night celebration in its tracks for a little perspective - he wanted to say Grace. He and Jen reminded me of my grandmother as she would say the lord's prayer. Words not only said but felt deep in the bones. Curtis has started a counseling practice in Franklin already. Check out his Renewed Hope Counciling page at
Mindy Richards may strategically be the best person in our class to have in a street fight. She is a peaceful sort, but she knows every muscle in the body and where it connects to the skeleton. Her goal is to fix bodies, not harm them thankfully, but still, if I were picking my team in a fight, she's my first pick. She has opened Repair Massage Studio in the Liberty Vault building and already bugun practicing. She has vast knowledge of what your muscles are doing and how to temper down aches and pains. You can visit her facebook fage here for more information,
He is planning to keep recording his own stuff, but wants to offer a chance for people in every genre of music a chance to explore their talent and record some music with his help. He even said he could make me sound good. Not sure I'll give him quite that challenge just yet. Check out his work at www.instagram.com/bammerski/
Ashley Smith I've known perhaps the longest. One of the most enthusiastically positive people I've ever met and she can twirl a stick with a flag on it as well as anyone I know. She works for the county and gives of herself to virtually every organization that helps people you can imagine. She is a former member of the "Pride of Pennsylvania" Franklin Knight's band front and current coach. She took the class because she has a home inspection business that she is getting off the ground. Visit her here!
Terra DeArment traveled a little bit down 322 to Franklin for this class. She is teaching yoga currently on location around the Meadville area and is hoping to secure her own studio soon. She has an eye on some possibilities in Conneaut Lake. She and I seem to share a dislike for numbers and charts, but both love what we do. Her passion for yoga is evident in her mostly daily posts to instagram and facebook hoping to teach people a pose to help them feel better in life. Check out her facebook page here,
You can check out my blog here. But I guess you're already there if you made it this far.
Currently I am offering $100/month or $1,000/year sponsorship on this blog and website. You get the periodic ad in a story like this one by my good friends at Buffalo Street Lanes.
Also an ad on the sponsors page and an ad on the rail(right side column of this website and it's multiple pages,)
I will post ads on various pages including the popular The Nature of Things column by Anna Applegate and the Sports blog where I try to cover several games a week with popular photo posts.
Website sponsors will also get 25% off ad prices when I launch the weekly print product this summer