Napa Sonoma SBDCSanta Rosa and Napa, California

"The SBDC opened the possibilities of turning an idea into a reality. The valuable information I received in the classes, the on-on-one meetings and the discussions with other students regarding their experiences gave me the confidence to attempt this project. It was especially important to me as I am retired and needed help with the whole field of technology and its capabilities, the terms, the reach, the tools, the groundwork for utilizing the web to develop my product. What I learned has helped me with other projects I have worked on."

Julie Jones, Consulting Services

The Estate Documents Organizer records book is an A-Z system of topics to organize and manage important records and documents. The book contains tips, tabs and forms and covers family, financial, medical, legal, passwords, and pet information, among other topics. It is designed to assist families and professionals to create order and peace of mind for the expected and unexpected event in life. It is based on the system designed to manage my widowed mother’s affairs for 20 years… and the concept of emergency preparedness for documents.

The SBDC provided web design and use instruction at several classes Julie attended. As she was a novice about web capabilities, she learned a great deal from her about web keywords, marketing and social media use – all of which she incorporated into her website, which has had over 10,500 page views in just one year. Julie also created a video on the site and You Tube with her web designer and that video has had over 600 views in a year. She is now on Facebook, Linked In, Patch, Yelp, Yahoo and Google blogspot, in addition to posting a blog about every two weeks – all due to the information learned at the SBDC classes. Julie did not have a website before meeting the SBDC and taking their classes.

Specific topics included web design tips, social media, marketing techniques and illustrations of each topic that Julie could incorporate into her master planning – before hiring a web designer to do the implementation. She took 3 classes and had a personal meeting with the SBDC and the web designer and follow-up with an SBDC web consultant who suggested changes to the site to improve its capabilities.

The success noted above in web hits in one year means Julie is on the right track. Due to good keywords, regular blogs and activity on the site, her unpaid Google search location is above the line, about 4 places down, easy for people to find. She has used her own funds and produced the book with a local copy store on a pay-as-you-go basis. 

She has sold about 200 copies of the book at $65 a copy with some discounts for group sales. Julie is using PayPal to process orders, which she ships herself. She has given numerous presentations and instructs at the Sonoma Valley Adult School classes. The numbers of people over 65 are growing each day and there is a great need for people to address the issue of document organization, which they seem to be doing. In 2010 and 2011, gross sales were about $6,500 and profits about $3,000. Her plan to increase sales in 2012 is to redesign the book and cover, apply for an ISBN number so the book can be sold on Amazon and other outlets. She hopes to partner with larger organizations such as the Red Cross to have the book classified as part of “emergency preparations – documents.” Julie continues to lay the groundwork for a broader reach.

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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.