By Michael Pineda
Starting a new business can be a challenging endeavor, but tools are available to make the process easier.
A group called Yukon Professionals meet monthly to focus on different aspects of business ownership during Lunch & Learn. One of the group’s founders, Maddison Spikes, said there have been five meetings to date.
The group is in its second quarter and is focused on topics under the “back office” theme. That includes business ethics and cyber awareness.
Spikes and Rae James began working on the program leading into the new year.
“We sat down and brainstormed what topics would be beneficial for ourselves in our new businesses or what topics we can see beneficial for other people in their businesses,” Spikes said. “I really wanted to focus on creating themes for each quarter.”
Yukon Professionals had its roots in the Yukon Young Professionals. It reorganized and has benefitted from leaning on the knowledge and resources for the Yukon Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors.
“Previously, we were our own entity, essentially in the Yukon Chamber,” Spikes said. “We had a lot of leadership from Yukon Young Professionals exit because their businesses were flourishing, and they needed to spend time with them coming out of the pandemic. “So, we all agreed being part of the Chamber Ambassadors,” she said. “There is a lot more established leadership, people more established in their careers who can lend guidance.”
When it was time to find speakers, the Yukon Professionals approached the ambassadors. Topics were provided and recommendations were made. Spikes said everyone who has been approached has been interested in participating.
The professionals have also been able to take advantage of Yukon’s growing connection with Southwest Oklahoma State University to find qualified speakers.
Meetings take place on the second Tuesday of every month. The Good Fight Church hosts the meetings starting at 11:30 a.m. Following some visitation, the speaker usually starts at 11:45 a.m. and speaks for 20 minutes. A question-and-answer period follows, with the meeting ending at 12:30 p.m.
Despite taking an organizational role, Spikes said she also enjoys benefits from each meeting.
“Each topic comes out with something I can think about,” Spikes said. “I know that for myself, I built this understanding these topics have been beneficial in the past for me and could pay it forward to other business owners.
“It really helps with keeping things in front of mind and in the present, especially with some of these back office things – we get too tied up in the day-to-day stuff,” she said. “Not everybody has staff specifically designed to do the accounting portions of this.”
Spikes added another benefit is receiving tips from professionals.
“As a small business owner, I can’t always afford that high-level professional help, and hearing from their standpoint, hearing those things, that can be applied is helpful.”
For a typical meeting, there are 15 in attendance. There is room for growth, however, as the room where Yukon Professionals meet at Good Fight Church holds up to 40 or 50 people. Spikes emphasized the group would be great for those wanting to start a business and looking for answers and advice.
“I would like to see Yukon Professionals grow so that we encourage other people who may not have been brave enough to step into entrepreneurship start feeling confident, start taking those steps,” Spikes said. “There is a great community here with the chamber and the community coffees, so many resources and a lot of people who would provide encouragement. It’s just finding the people who have not taken those steps yet. I think there is a lot of growth that could happen in Yukon.”
The next installment of Lunch & Learn will be held at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, with Shelly Soliz speaking on the topic, “Presenting Yourself for Success.”