Napa Sonoma SBDCSanta Rosa and Napa, California

“Napa Sonoma SBDC services have made all the difference in helping me build a successful business. Workshops helped me get up to speed on social media and marketing in general. My work with my Business Advisor has made it possible for me to develop and maintain my web, design my rack cards and flyers, and they have been a dependable resource in executing my marketing plan. I am always recommending the SBDC to other business owners I meet.”

Frieda Lewis

BACKGROUND
Ace It Bike Tours is a Sonoma-based bike tour company offering multiple ways for a tourist to enjoy Sonoma County or San Francisco by bike. Three signature tours are offered: the Sonoma Bike’n Brew Tour, the San Francisco Bike Tour and the Sonoma Wine Country Bike Tour. Ace It also serves the independent traveler by renting everything needed for independent biking: bike plus helmet, handlebar bag, lock, gear rack with insulated bag, water bottle cage, customized bike map, spare tube and pump. Bike car racks are also available for rent. Ace It supports family bike trips by offering child-sized bikes as well and delivery of bikes to local hotels.

CHALLENGES
Frieda is a registered nurse, certified fitness trainer, certified tourism ambassador and licensed tour guide with a passion for bike riding and love of meeting people. Looking for a way out of her stressful nursing job, she saw the need for organized bike tours in Sonoma County. She had no prior business experience so had to learn everything. Fortunately she is a take-charge person and tackled the challenges with gusto along with some help from the Sonoma SBDC.

ACTIONS
Frieda came to the SBDC for help with marketing, and especially with developing her web site. She had no prior technical background but she was bootstrapping her business and had no budget for a professional developer. After trying some of the free platforms that ultimately turned out to be inadequate for her business, she turned to WordPress to build her web site. She worked closely with her Business Advisor on the technical issues, the design issues and of course the content.

Always eager to learn, Frieda attended several SBDC workshops including, Marketing Your Business on the Internet and Website Makeovers.

RESULTS
Frieda first came to the SBDC in 2009 looking to start Ace It as a weekend job while she maintained her nursing position. She had always planned to grow the business but the recession hit the tourism industry hard and it took years to recover. Meanwhile, Frieda kept working on her web site, attending workshops, improving her marketing and building relationships in the local hospitality industry.

In 2015 revenues are up 50 percent over 2014 and business is solid. 2015 is the year she was able to flip her business model. Instead of full-time nursing and part-time bike tour guide, she is now full time tour guide and only does on-call nursing during the slower bike season.

Since working with the SBDC Ace-It now boasts a fleet of 30 hybrid bikes, uses three contract tour guides and one bike mechanic, and has led people from across the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East on bike tours. EpicureAndCulture.com has even identified Ace It Bike Tours as among the top 10 Brewery Bike Tours in the world. Ace It is has partnered with local breweries, wineries and hotels to create packages and enhanced bike experiences for visitors to Sonoma County and San Francisco.

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It all starts here. Complete the application and submit your request. A member of the SBDC will follow up with you and help you achieve your small business goals -- at no cost to you.
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Funded in part through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the California Governors Office for Business and Economic Development, and other private and public partners;  and nationally accredited by the association of SBDCs.