Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Melanie Bertolio holds a Chahoua lizard at their home in Stansbury. Bertolio has a gecko breeding business in her basement. New businesses are up 75 percent in Tooele this year.

October 18, 2012
Business startups jump in Tooele

Business creation is up in Tooele.

According to the Tooele City Recorders Office, 145 new business licenses were issued in the city as of the end of August 2012 compared to 121 new licenses issued in the same time period in 2011 — a 20 percent increase.

There were 19 licenses issued for home sales — a category covering everything from health and weight loss products to cupcakes sales, windshield repair, gun smithing and taxidermy.

New businesses licensed by Tooele City include computers, handymen, salons, massage, contractors, auto services,  retail stores, medical services, home cleaning, animal services, accounting, restaurants, fitness, marketing, rental, financial services, photography, landscaping, and construction.

“Many of the people that come in to license their own business are looking to supplement their income or replace income from a lost job,” said Lisa Carpenter, Tooele City deputy recorder. “People have also sad they want to start their own business because they want to be their own boss.”

Melanie Bertolio opened a home sales business, Bertopia Geckos, in Stansbury Park in April.

Bertolio, who works a full-time job in Salt Lake City, sells crested geckos — a breed of the popular reptile pet characterized by a crest that runs from each eye to the tail— from her home. The business was a natural extension of her hobby.

“I started four or five years ago breeding geckos as a hobby and things just started to grow,” said Bertolio. “I started selling them to friends and at reptile expos. I was doing so much business so I figured it was time to get a business license.”

Bertolio advertises online and maintains a website for her business. She ships geckos across the country.

Tooele City has also licensed 12 new handymen so far this year, along with 11 new computer sales and service shops, and 11 new salons.

Heather Mannos opened up Abracadabra Salon on West Vine Street in September.

For Mannos, who has worked in the salon industry for 10 years, the opportunity to own her own business and be her own boss was a motivating factor.

Brian Shook started up Beehive Property Solutions, a handyman service, in March after being laid off from work designing a TRAX extension for the Utah Transit Authority. His business provides a one-stop service for property managers that need to fix up rental properties. Shook does painting, replaces toilets, repairs leaky faucets and other minor repairs.

“I looked for a business that would have a growth opportunity in this economy,” said Shook. “With people turning foreclosures into rentals, I thought I could use my skills and provide a service for property managers that would cost less than using multiple contractors for the same services.”

So far the move has paid off for Shook, who has several property managers in Tooele County that use his  services enough that earnings from the company are his main source of income.

The company remains a small business, with Shook performing most of the work himself.

Striking out and setting up your own small business can be a risky move.

After one year, 10 percent of new small businesses fail. After two, the failure rate jumps to 25 percent, and at the five-year mark it goes to 45 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ryan Murray, director of the small business resource center at Utah State University Tooele, helps new businesses beat the odds.

“A large percentage of these new businesses are most likely licensed to people that had an idea for a business, got a license and now are working on their business plan,” said Murray.

Murray recommends the reverse order — business plan first and then licensing.

Service businesses like handymen and cleaning services are more attractive to local entrepreneurs because a lower overhead means the businesses break even and turn a profit earlier than other businesses, Ryan said.

“Most people  underestimate what it takes to launch a new business,” said Murray. “It takes a lot of work and effort and requires some risk.”

While many new businesses are spawned out of necessity by people who find themselves  laid off from a job, Murray advises that if possible people keep their current job while starting a new business.

“Even starting a new business while working another job eventually requires risk,” said Murray. “Eventually you come to the point where you have to put in more time to make your new business grow than you can put in while working your current job,” said Murray. “Then you have to make a leap of faith because there is no guarantee that your business will succeed.”

Mannos made that leap of faith and one month later she is happy with her decision.

“We have had very steady business since the day we opened,” said Mannos.

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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