National entrepreneurship month feature: Destiny Burns, CLE Urban Winery

After a career in the U.S. Navy, COSE member Destiny Burns fulfilled her dream of opening an urban winery. Hear about her entrepreneurship journey and learn more about her unique business.

 

With the right combination of vision and passion, any career path can lead to entrepreneurship. For Destiny Burns, it was after 20 years of active duty in the U.S. Navy, followed by 13 years as a business development executive in the defense industry in Washington DC, that she began her entrepreneurial journey.

More than 30 years after leaving her hometown of Cleveland, Destiny was ready to move back home and fulfill her dream of opening an urban winery. With her passion for wine, advanced degrees in business, and training in the food and wine industry—as well as the expertise of Winemaker and VP of Operations Dave Mazzone—Destiny founded CLE Urban Winery in 2016.

The business has expanded to provide more than just opportunities to drink wine. Destiny refers to CLE Urban Winery as a community center and is proud to finally offer such a multi-faceted experience in her beloved hometown.

In honor of November being National Entrepreneurship Month, here are three key takeaways from Destiny’s journey running her own business.

A philanthropic purpose is priceless. With her entire life dedicated to service—serving her county and her community—Destiny’s advice for entrepreneurs is to not only focus on the bottom line, but to bring something into the model of your business that brings you joy. 

In that light, Destiny has formed key partnerships with local organizations including Dobama Theater, Graffiti HeArt, Greater Cleveland Foodbank, Hunger Network and The Cleveland Vegan Society. For Destiny, these partnerships are what recharge her and keep her going. 

“That’s what feeds my soul. It’s the reason why I became an entrepreneur in the first place.”

Small businesses need flexibility with products and services. We saw it all through COVID—businesses pivoting their focuses and coming up with new ways to appeal to their audiences during unpredictable times. While CLE Urban Winery was shut down at the start of the global pandemic, they had to find new ways to connect and sell. They accomplished this through the creation of wine tasting boxes, which include five samples of wine and a small pairing of food—as well as instructions and wine descriptions. It was important to Destiny for the wine tasting experience to continue while her customers were safe at home—and to remain part of the experience by personally delivering the boxes herself.

Additionally, during COVID, they reinvented themselves by creating an online shopping platform—CLE Urban Winery now ships anywhere in Ohio. 

A good brand is always looking for new ways to be creative. In a market that has its ups and downs, as well as countless competitors, creativity is key for survival. One way that CLE Urban Winery maintains a competitive edge is through its ability to cross over different consumer segments. In recognition of the steadfast popularity of cocktails, Destiny and Dave developed wine cocktails. A favorite wine cocktail among patrons is called the Cleveland Manhattan and is made with blueberry Merlot. The winery also appeals to craft beer drinkers through its creation of Hopped in the Heights—a dry hopped combination of Sauvignon Blanc and beer.

Destiny has also created a CLE Urban Winery wine club—currently comprised of approximately 145 members—who she refers to as her VIPs. The red-carpet treatment for these VIPs includes special perks such as access to wines created just for club members, behind the scenes access to festivals, and other unique opportunities for wine exploration and education.

Other ways that CLE Urban Winery is creatively bridging gaps among consumers and helping people explore and think about wine differently are included in the winery’s strategic plan. Their goal is to create a wine makers club with customers who wish to learn how to make their own wine, as well as more formal educational wine tasting opportunities. 

You can learn more about CLE Urban Winery and Destiny’s journey as an entrepreneur by listening to episode three of the COSE Small Business After Hours Podcast. You can also check out this short documentary in celebration of CLE Urban Winery’s fifth anniversary

 
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  • Next up: GCP Testifies in Support of Key Provisions in House Bill 110, Two-Year State Budget Bill

    GCP Testifies in Support of Key Provisions in House Bill 110, Two-Year State Budget Bill

     

    Last week, the Greater Cleveland Partnership offered proponent testimony for Ohio House Bill 110, the two-year state budget bill. “GCP greatly appreciates that House Bill 110 currently presents a balanced budget approach without any readily apparent tax increases,” the testimony states. “Predictability and stability are key factors to consider as the business community continues to navigate an uncertain environment.”

    There are several key provisions that GCP supports, many of which align with our 2021 – 2022 Public Policy Agenda, including:

    • Preserve Ohio’s small business tax deduction on the first $250K in business income.
    • Sustain Ohio’s current commercial activity tax (CAT) rate.
    • Support the $460M grant proposals that would aid small businesses, new businesses, bars and restaurants, lodging facilities, and indoor entertainment venues.
    • Approve the proposed funding for broadband affordability issues in urban areas.
    • Advance the $200M proposal to provide up to $2.5 million grants for infrastructure projects.
    • Authorize $100M to expand the Cleveland Innovation District.
    • Fund the H2Ohio program fully with $240M.
    • Support technology-focused credentials through the TechCred Program, including the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program.
    • Approve $15M to support targeted workforce investments in economically distressed rural and urban communities.
    • Devote $16M toward the goal of helping high school students earn 70,000 workforce credentials each year; support the additional $25M proposal to aid schools in offering new and high-demand credentials to students.
    • Support the expansion of Ohio to Work to help Ohioans facing job loss connect with a career coach, supportive services, and rapid re-training to become employed in an in-demand job.
    • Fund the Industry Sector Partnership Grant to support partnerships among business, schools, training providers, and community leaders, strengthening the local workforce; these partnerships develop and enhance career pathways for workers in specific industries.
    • Support and expand programs like the Export Internship, Diversity & Inclusion Internship, and Choose Ohio First.
    • Guarantee every student in Ohio has access to computer science education.

    The Ohio House of Representatives will continue hearing budget testimony from proponents, opponents, and interested parties via various subcommittees. Once complete, the House Finance Committee will formulate a new version of the bills on recommendations from subcommittees. GCP will remain active throughout this process, providing the perspectives of the Northeast Ohio business community and advocating for provisions that will strengthen our regional economic outlook.

    Following an affirmative vote by the House of Representatives, the bill will be considered and amended by the Senate, and ultimately be considered by a conference committee of both House and Senate Finance committee members. The agreed-upon version of the budget must be signed by the governor by June 30 for the appropriations to take effect on July 1, 2021.

    You can read the GCP’s full testimony here.

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  • Next up: GCP Testifies in Support of State Bill to Provide Grant Support to Impacted Businesses

    GCP Testifies in Support of State Bill to Provide Grant Support to Impacted Businesses

     

    Earlier this week, GCP testified in support of Senate Bill 109 (SB 109), legislation that would provide grants to businesses, local fairs, childcare providers, and veterans homes. The bill allocates $20 million for grants of $10,000, $20,000, or $30,000 to indoor entertainment venues impacted by COVID-19. It also allocates $10 million for $10,000 relief grants to new businesses opened after January 1, 2020. Finally, the bill allocates $150 million for the Ohio small business grant relief program to provide $10,000 grants to applicants who applied before December 12, 2020, but whose requests were not funded.

    In 2020, GCP was extremely supportive of the Ohio small business grant relief program, which offered crucial relief during the pandemic. SB 109 is a welcome addition to that program. Cuyahoga County yielded the highest number of program applications and awards when the program closed in December 2020. Across the county, over 1,800 small businesses were awarded a grant.

    In written testimony, Marty McGann, Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Strategy at GCP, advocated for strong economic development tools to bolster support for Ohio-based companies and create the conditions for recovery. The proposed bill, he stated, “will help foster a strong, vibrant business community in Ohio.”

    You can read GCP’s full testimony here.

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  • Next up: GCP Testifies in Support of State Bills to Provide Grant Support to Impacted Businesses

    GCP Testifies in Support of State Bills to Provide Grant Support to Impacted Businesses

     

    Last week, GCP offered testimony supporting Ohio House Bills 168 and 169, which would appropriate $150 million to the state small business grant program and $125 million to the Development Services Agency (DSA) to provide grants to bars, restaurants, and lodging businesses, respectively.

    In 2020, GCP was extremely supportive of the Ohio small business grant program, which offered crucial relief during the pandemic. HB 168 is a welcome addition to that program and will include $10 million in funding support solely for businesses that were not eligible for the previous round of grants. The bill would also allocate $20 million to support Ohio’s theaters and entertainment venues.

    In written testimony, Marty McGann, Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Strategy at GCP, advocated for strong economic development tools to bolster support for Ohio-based companies and create the conditions for recovery. The proposed bills, he stated, “will help foster a strong, vibrant business community in Ohio.”

    You can read GCP’s full testimony here and here.

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  • Next up: Good Customer Service is Key to Small Business Success

    Good Customer Service is Key to Small Business Success

    All customers place a high value on excellent customer service. Learn how to give your customers the five-star customer service treatment with these five steps.

     

    One of the most important things a small business needs to do is to retain their customers. In this crazy and competitive business world, it is very easy to lose customers and harder to keep them. Retaining good customers may take some time and effort on your part, but it is the best way to keep your business growing and improving. Poor customer service is the quickest way to lose customers. Even one incident can be enough to send your customers running to your competition. And in today’s online marketplace, it is easier than ever for them to find another business with which to spend their money. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to make sure your customer service is top-notch and makes your customers want to do business with you. 

    Consistently providing good customer service is not easy but it is very important to keeping good customers and to keeping a good reputation for your business. So, how can you improve your customer service? 

    Step 1: Conduct an assessment of your communication and support strategies. Start with a review of the first line of communication, which may be a receptionist or how you answer your inbound calls. Are customers greeted warmly and made to feel important? Are your phone calls answered in a timely manner? Can customers reach you or leave a message? Do you return calls promptly? First impressions are important and can go a long way toward keeping current customers and acquiring new ones.

    Step 2: Next, review how you handle complaints or situations. A positive response will keep customers happy, while a negative response will send them packing. Remember, word-of-mouth is powerful and you don’t want them telling other prospective customers about any negative experiences. If you listen, understand, and apologize, when necessary, much is often forgiven. Following this guidance can help you wind up with a happy and a faithful customer after all.

    RELATED: Read more by Tim Dimoff.

    Step 3: Personalize your service. Offering a customized service experience is another excellent way to keep customers. One size does not fit all in this situation. Simply listening to what your customers are asking for and helping them find the right solution for them, tells them that you care and are sincere in trying to help them. Make sure they feel supported by taking time to return phone calls and to respond to messages. Be sure to tailor your responses to them and their situations. 

    Step 4: Make sure your customers are engaged. Don’t forget to go the extra mile by finding ways to connect with customers and increase how engaged they are with your business. This can be as simple as offering an incentive or by personally thanking them for referring you to another potential customer. More touchpoints means more engagement—which often leads to loyal customers.

    Step 5: Get your whole team on the same page. Take the time to make sure all of your employees are trained in good customer service. Provide regular trainings to ensure everyone understands and implements your customer service policies. 

    RELATED: Why you should invest in sales training.

    Remember that everyone wants to feel valued and in today’s competitive marketplace, it is very easy to find a new vendor. No one wants to spend money or do business with a company that makes them feel like they are being taken for granted.

    Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

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  • Next up: How to improv my elevator speech

    How to improv my elevator speech

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