Small Business Majority Blog

Small Business Matters

While working towards an engineering degree in college, Matthew Hollis quickly realized his real interest wasn’t in memorizing equations or the laws of thermodynamics, but rather in entrepreneurship and how to turn problem solving into a business. He connected with Alan Dillman, who ran a business incubator on Hollis’ college campus. The two quickly realized there was room for innovation and sustainability in the waste collection business, which inspired them to launch Elytus, a waste management company based in Columbus, Ohio.

Elytus is a different type of waste management company. Elytus operates under the motto of “Waste Nothing,” which translates to saving customers time and money while also maximizing sustainability. By streamlining processes and helping clients procure and manage services like solid waste and recycling, grease trap cleaning, fry oil recovery, exhaust hood cleaning and pest control, Elytus has saved clients more than $11 million while also saving nearly 20 million trees through recycling.

“We really try to be a comprehensive resource for our clients,” said Hollis. “We help them handle environmental services through every step of the process, from procurement to payment. Our goal is for our customers to feel like Elytus is their partner, not just a service provider.”

Hollis and Dillman both say that their employees are crucial to their company’s success. Like many small businesses, Elytus strives to treat employees like family, which has resulted in an impressively low turnover rate.

“As with most companies, our employees are our best assets,” said Dillman. “We want our employees to stick with us, so we’re committed to investing in them. For us, that means providing training and really helping them grow as professionals.”

Today, Elytus has served major clients like Omnicare and Cinemark. There’s no doubt the company will continue expanding and promoting sustainable waste solutions for clients across the country.

For Adam Rochon, supplying benefits and insurance is a family business. Rochon followed his mother, Belinda Roberts, into the insurance and benefits industry and today they have a collective 28 years of insurance experience. After the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, businesses began to require a more in-depth broker relationship and a knowledgeable source of information for coverage. That’s when Rochon and Roberts decided to launch their own agency, Sequoia Employee Benefits & Insurance Solutions, better known as Sequoia Solutions. Sequoia Solutions specializes in implementing benefit plan models and business solutions for companies of all sizes.

What makes Sequoia Solutions stand out from their peers is the firm’s philosophy of being in the relationship business, not the transaction business. By focusing on building long-term relationships rather than selling products to businesses, their clients receive the services and products that work best for them. Because Sequoia Solutions is family-owned, their clients know they can count on the company to be around for a long time and will stay in trusted hands.

“We cultivate relationships with our clients in ways that a lot of agencies are unable to do, and I think that’s why we have been so successful,” said Rochon. “We’ve worked with a lot of our clients for many years. This means we know our clients very well and they trust us to help them navigate through all the external changes that affect them and their employees. They also know we’re here to help guide them as their own business needs evolve.”

Rochon is also committed to staying abreast of best practices in the insurance field and advocating for health insurance improvements. He’s involved with the California Association of Health Underwriters, and is currently the President-Elect of the Central California Chapter. He also works closely with lawmakers in California and D.C. to help them understand and make improvements to regulations that impact the Affordable Care Act.

“For me, it’s not only important to be aware of the changes in the insurance field,” said Rochon. “It’s just as important to pro-actively guide these changes so our legislators can better understand insurance and enact policies that will benefit my clients.”

Sequoia Solutions is based in Central California. For more information about the company, you can visit:

Access to capital is a major challenge for small business owners. Without adequate funding or access to reasonable loans, small businesses can’t grow and thrive – or even get off the ground in many cases. To help ensure entrepreneurs secure the funding they need to be successful, Small Business Majority has partnered with the VEDC in Los Angeles County to launch a new program providing access to capital education to small business owners.

The program consists of free in-person seminars, workshops and webinars that small business owners can attend to learn more about financing options and connect with business counselors, financial advisors and other small business financing experts. The workshops will also include information for women and minority-owned businesses about the unique issues they face when accessing capital.

“One of the biggest challenges facing small business owners and entrepreneurs has been and continues to be the inability to access sufficient credit and capital,” said Rhea Aguinaldo, Small Business Majority’s Manager of Entrepreneurship. “For entrepreneurs, getting a loan could mean the difference between success and failure, whether it’s used for renovation, purchasing equipment or working capital. Securing funding might feel like an uphill battle, but the truth is there are more funding options than ever before. This new partnership and events series will help entrepreneurs understand these funding options and provide them the tools they need to make the best decisions for their small business.”

Access to capital has been an increasingly difficult issue for small businesses over the last few years, as many banks have eliminated lower value loans most often utilized by small businesses. Big banks approve just 2 out of 10 small business loan requests. In fact, Small Business Majority’s polling found 90 percent of small business owners identify access to capital as an area of top concern. The VEDC program should be a valuable resource to small businesses struggling with access to capital.

To learn more about access to capital options for small businesses, entrepreneurs can visit Small Business Majority’s new online resource portal, which provides an overview of potential funding options for small businesses, including the U.S. Small Business Administration’s loan programs, community banks and credit unions, microloans, crowdfunding and alternative online lenders. The resource portal also provides information on how to connect with reputable agencies and organizations that can help entrepreneurs navigate access to capital.

Access to capital is crucial to ensuring small businesses have the resources they need to thrive and grow. Programs like our partnership with the VEDC will help ensure they have the resources to do that, and that’s good for our economy and for our communities. The first workshop will be held on Monday, November 16, 2015, at the VEDC headquarters located at 5121 Van Nuys Blvd. 2nd floor in Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. Small business owners can register here:

Missy Williams spent the first 20 years of her career in the mental health field as a direct care provider, program manager, counselor and executive manager. As a mental health provider, she learned how stressful it could be to take care of patients and run a successful business – and she wanted to share her experiences with others in her field to help them tackle these problems. A few years after obtaining her M.A. in Organizational Leadership, she combined her experience and education and launched Solutions110, which provides management consulting for community service organizations, including private mental health practices and nonprofits.

Solutions110 provides a breadth of services – including strategic planning development, operations management, talent (employee) management, internal problem solving, accountability partnership, business review, restructure planning and social media – to help organizations save money and streamline their business so they can focus on growth, their patients and their bottom-line.

“I find providers are tasked with handling every aspect of their practices. Even though they have strong clinical training, they may feel overwhelmed by business tasks like operations, marketing and infrastructure,” said Williams. “My goal is to provide them with the tools they need to smoothly run their business and help their patients at the same time.”

Williams specializes in putting structures and processes in place to help businesses succeed. She also has a keen eye for social media – and she does it all with empathy and an easy-to-work-with attitude.

“I know it can be difficult for clinicians to transition to the role of an entrepreneur when they start their own company,” said Williams. “I have firsthand experience with those challenges, so I know how my clients feel and what they need.”

Solutions110 serves clients all across the country. If you’re interested in learning more about the business, you can visit:

Alysis Vasquez is passionate about good food – there’s no doubt about that. But just as important to her is that people have a unique experience when eating out. As a chef in New York and New Jersey, she worked for well-known food names like Tom Colicchio, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Dale Talde. While she loved her work, she found that fine dining could sometimes feel cold and uninviting. That’s why she channeled her cooking talents into the Jersey City-based Chilltown Kitchen Supper Club, which aims to treat each meal as an intimate and holistic experience.

Supper Club events, which take place once a month, are like dinner parties at someone’s home – but with impeccable service and exceptional food. Each Supper Club event includes a 5-6 course tasting menu, which aims to be elevated but not elitist.

Vasquez also makes sure to introduce each dish before it’s served, for an important reason.

“I majored in cultural anthropology, so I think cultural influences and histories are important,” said Vasquez. “Food tastes better when you’re connected to it on a deeper level. I want to give my guests the opportunity to learn about their food and create a more personalized experience than what you’d get at a regular restaurant.”

Vasquez also makes an effort to create a communal experience. Each meal begins with a cocktail hour so guests can mingle, and everyone eats together at communal tables to encourage diners to get to know each other.

“Eating out can be blasé, and people don’t often get a chance to meet their neighbors these days,” said Vasquez. “I want to bring people together through food and the experience of a shared meal. Just because we live in a big city doesn’t mean we have to give up small town connections.”

The next Chilltown Kitchen Supper Club is going to take place at on October 30. In keeping with the season, it will be a Halloween masquerade cocktail party. If you’re interested in learning more about these events, you can visit: