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Success Stories

How does someone go from running a power plant aboard a U.S. Navy ship at sea to guiding small businesses in Nebraska through their bookkeeping snags?

Russ Cowan knows.  As the owner of Money Smarts Inc., in Lincoln, he offers custom-tailored services to help area entrepreneurs think beyond the numbers on the balance sheet to make better business decisions for long-term success--all within his customers' tight budgets.

"We've seen some success stories when some businesses are on the verge," Cowan said, "They come to us knowing that they have to fix something or close their doors, and many have been able to turn things around, and are growing, so it’s kind of fun to see it all actually work."

Finding his way from a Navy career to a financial business

But when Cowan enlisted in the Navy more than 20 years ago as a machinist mate, then a boiler technician, he had in mind making the next stripe over poring over spreadsheets matching revenue and expenses.  He... Read More

So there she was, downsized from her corporate finance job in the Dallas area the day before, out with her friends, wondering what would be next in her life.  She was over 50, without a job, although she was more fortunate than many in the recession with a severance and some stock options.  But she did have a thought.

“I always wanted to open a bar,” she said.  “I’d go into places, look around, think about how maybe I’d do something a little different than what they were doing.”

And there, out with her friends that night, was one of them exclaiming to her: “You should do that!”

Lila Anderson at Nosh Wine Lounge at 10th and Dodge in Omaha.

A little more than three years later, Lila Anderson’s place, Nosh Wine Lounge, is a staple of the new Capitol District in downtown Omaha.  Within walking distance of the CenturyLink Center, Holland Performing Arts, the new TD Ameritrade Park and gathering foot traffic from several downtown hotels, the intimate... Read More

Tucked in the trendy AkSarBen Village, within walking distance of a park, shops and coffee sippers is what Kathy Byrnes hopes is to be one of Omaha’s hottest fashionable merges of gallery, retail and creative exploration.

Village Canvas and Cabernet offers a gallery featuring local artists’ works for sale on consignment, and a small wine, beer and coffee bar off to the side for browsers.  While the space also will be available for private parties, the best part, and the linchpin of the business, is an artist who will lead fun and entertaining painting sessions to help guests craft their own unique works. 

“I hope we can have the space for people to explore their creative side and potentially discover their inner artist,” she added.

Kathy Byrnes (center, in tan jacket) during the opening of Village Canvas and Cabernet Sept. 14 in Omaha's AkSarBen Village. 

It’s a natural progression for Byrnes, who, along with her husband, are general partners of the... Read More

She has a love for pets, and with the help of funds through the SBA Microloan Program, turned that passion into a small business bringing joy and comfort to grateful dogs and cats across central Nebraska.

Alison Martin owns The Tail Waggin, a mobile store she operates out of a decked-out and gaily painted SUV which takes toys, healthy treats, collars, leashes, beds, holistic food and wellness products to personal shopping appointments for pets.  The small business takes to the road to fill the void of quality pet products available in the area, offering customers a chance to shop at home.  Among other services, Martin suggests pet shoppers host friends and their families to browse merchandise at pet parties tagged with cutesy names such as a “Yappy Hour” or “Whine & Cheese” party.

“I knew in my heart all along I was destined to work with pets,” said Martin, who, along with her husband, enjoys six dogs in their household.

Loved working with pets so much she... Read More

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