Napa Sonoma SBDCSanta Rosa and Napa, California

"The SBDC helped grow our business and gain understanding of our financials.  Since our very first meeting, I have been constantly learning and growing as a small business owner.  Without their support, I might have gotten to where I am today but not without some major mistakes and learning curves.  Not to mention time and money!  The expertise and knowledge acquired from thhe SBDC has been the backbone that keeps pushing Sift to new heights."

Andrea and Jeff Ballus


Andrea and her husband moved from Las Vegas to Sonoma County in early 2008. The first order of business was opening a flagship cupcake shop.  Andrea had her sights sets on a chain of shops and in less than a year she opened store number two. Store number three is in negotiation as we speak.

Andrea found the SBDC services through the Cotati Chamber.  She knew she needed help because as much as she had passion for cupcakes and knew cupcakes were the happening thing, she knew little to nothing about running a business. Her expertise was marketing and she was confident she had that piece under control (in fact she got GREAT press which supported her opening and continues to this day). On the other hand, she had no idea what it cost to run her business, no budget, no knowledge about costing or pricing her products.  She was unfamiliar with COGS and break even.

Actions taken

The SBDC supported Andrea in getting financials, reviewing them monthly, assisting her with employee and HR issues, getting systems and protocol in place: insurance, merchant services, theft prevention, and maintaining profitability to support opening another store. The SBDC’s food service specialist worked with Andrea on how to cost her products, determine her pricing, and once she began getting P&Ls, the SBDC gave her guidelines for managing her payroll land her COGS. Andrea has garnered essential information that supports her as she builds a successful, compliant, and well-run business.


Since working with the SBDC, Andrea has opened a 2nd store and is in the process of opening her 3rd location. She has maintained staffing in Cotati and hired one full time and four part time employees at the Napa store. Her sales at the Cotati location have increased 122% the first 4 months of 2008 compared to the first 5 months of 2009 and profits increased 263% for the same time period. The Napa store has reached sales of high 5 figures in the first 6 months and profits (excluding start up costs) of low 5 figures.

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.