If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
After my (Anthony Crosby) many conversations with multiple business owners for these “Small Business Friday” articles, I noticed a common struggle for some of my local business-owner friends. Many of them would have a great idea/plan in place for an excellent venture. However, it would be difficult for them to find or retain quality employees to help build their dreams into fruition. Some of my guests would become discouraged whenever this topic was brought up because they always felt they were losing employees out to larger outfits who could offer them more money. Is there a solution to this scenario? Well, our guest today seems to think so, and she has a passion for helping others figure it out as well!
Today, we’re joined by Jessica Larsen. Jess is the owner/operator of her business, Elevate Business Solutions. I could try to break down what her business is all about; however, Jess is more than efficient enough to do that herself. Please, take it away, Jess!
“Our mission is to be a strategic business partner for business optimization and human resource consulting. We specialize in leadership and development. My job is to help businesses get past the two-year mark! Everything we do is specialized for their business needs at their current size. We offer a magnitude of services—HR services and courses, business systems, social media marketing, development training, safety management programs for construction companies, and talent development! I wear a lot of hats!”
It may not be immediately apparent by only reading about her on a screen, but Jess is very passionate about everything she just laid out! From where does your enthusiasm to help other businesses come, Jess?
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I think my grandma started four successful businesses in her lifetime that she really found joy in! You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. If someone is bold enough about their trade and has built a business plan or idea out of it, I want to be the person that helps them take it to the next level. There are so many people who underestimate themselves, and they just need a little help to get their ideas up and going.”
Alright, now that we know a bit about what you do, let’s get to know more of who you are. Can you share some of your journey with us? How did you get to where you are today?
“I have been a Nevadan since I was six. I’m originally from a small town in the heart of California gold country; mining is definitely in my blood. My dad and my uncle moved to Nevada in 1992 as heavy equipment operators. My mom moved to Las Vegas in 1996, and I grew up going to work with her as she was very successful in building her empire in the commercial construction industry. She taught me a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit and making things happen for yourself.
“I was going through my second year of college at Northern Arizona University when the economy collapsed. Therefore, I was unable to finish the rest of my schooling because I was unable to get any more financial help. I started working three jobs. I was cocktailing at night, waitressing in the mornings at a diner, and working at a boot store, all while taking on a full load of classes. I told myself I could make this happen for myself, so with six hundred dollars in my pocket, my mom and I drove out to Texas.
“I was waitressing, and I would have this same group of people in my section for lunch. After about seven weeks, a man from the group gave me his business card and told me to meet him at the address on the card when I got off work! I told him I was not interested in getting murdered! It turned out, he was on the board of directors for a bank, and he wanted to hire me to teach his tellers customer service! That was my first step forward into what I do in HR.
“I worked for some major businesses in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, but after a while, I decided it was time for me to come home to Nevada. I still have family here, and I saw an opportunity to build a life. I knew I could make a real difference here in Nevada because I’m so passionate about our state and what it is that we do here! Many people don’t understand; without mining, ranching, agriculture— without Elko, Nevada—the world would be really hurting.”
Let’s finish up our time together by talking more about your perspective on Elko, Jess. What’s your take on the scenario I brought up at the start of this article? How do small business owners in our area find and retain quality employees when they, realistically, can’t offer them thirty dollars an hour?
“Retention is a heartache a lot of local small businesses have. However, there are other ways to retain employees rather than throwing money at them. To be the employer of choice for your people is to be about your people! Make sure your total rewards package includes things that are out of the box and dynamic for your business, so someone won’t want to bring up the fact that they could make a few dollars more someplace else. If you’re able to tap into your employees’ potential, that sense of loyalty gets built. If a business has retention issues, then we need to talk. I can help because, not to be condescending, maybe it’s not them, but you.
“When you treat people well, and people are your front focus, your business is going to be successful. There are things Elevate Business Solutions can do to help bridge the gap between people and employer to help grow your business!”
You can stay caught up on everything going on around here at AAT by checking out our “Stay Connected” page! Make sure you never miss a feature!
See you around, Elko!
Written by: Anthony Crosby
Edited by: Nadara Merrill