Basics of Bookkeeping: Loving Your Balance Sheet | GROW Nebraska’s® FREE Online Training

Basics of Bookkeeping: Loving Your Balance Sheet | GROW Nebraska’s® FREE Online Training

GROW Nebraska’s® FREE Online Training

Basics of Book Keeping: Loving Your Balance Sheet

Steps to starting a small business
The presentation is about the balance sheet, why it matters, and how to use it.
  • The balance sheet is your scorecard
  • The balance sheet is an early warning system
  • Check your balance sheet regularly

DATE: March 18th

TIME: Noon – 1:00 p.m. CST

LOCATION: Live Stream

COST: Free, must register to receive call-in details and recording

Cory Morris has loved budgeting for as long as he can remember, and even convinced several budget-haters to love it too! That passion has grown into loving the numbers of business, and how those numbers tell us the health of the business. From 400 unit apartment complexes to start up vehicle sanitation companies, the books can be a source of fear and frustration, or a source of peace and direction.

All Big Businesses Start Small: Platte Valley Auto

All Big Businesses Start Small: Platte Valley Auto

All Big Businesses Start Small: Platte Valley Auto


Platte Valley Auto

Microsoft and Apple started in garages, and Facebook started in a dorm room.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Lynch started selling her famous salad dressing at a Legion Hall in St. Paul, Nebraska. Todd Booth began his successful automotive business by working in the wash bay at a local car dealership after he graduated from high school.

While GROW Nebraska businesses haven’t reached the magnitude of Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, many have grown from small businesses to successful enterprises that are continually increasing sales, creating jobs and bringing Nebraska to the world.

GROW Nebraska members Dorothy Lynch, Jayhawk Boxes, Baker’s Candies, Platte Valley Auto and Fat Boy BBQ are all successful businesses that started small and have grown tremendously in the past few decades.

Success didn’t happen overnight for these small-town Nebraska businesses. From creating quality products to treating customers well and keeping up with technology, each business has created its own unique path to prosperity. And, for many, GROW Nebraska has played a part in their success.

Platte Valley Auto


-Kearney and Lexington, NE


Todd Booth, the owner of Platte Valley Auto, started in the car business in the wash bay at the local car dealership in Lexington after graduating from high school. He worked his way up through the business becoming a salesman and then an owner.

Booth purchased the business from its owners in 2009 after they retired. Six years ago, he purchased a Ford dealership in Kearney. And, last year he purchased Heartland Chevrolet in Lexington.

Today, Booth’s business consists of Platte Valley Auto in Lexington (400 N. Jefferson St.), Platte Valley Auto in Kearney (4210 2nd Ave.) and Heartland Chevy Buick in Lexington (1111 Plum Creek Pkwy.)

The business sells new Dodge, Jeep, Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler and Ram vehicles along with used and pre-owned vehicles, which gives customers a large inventory to choose from.

“The ability to continue to grow has been tremendously rewarding to us,” Booth said.

The business employs close to 80 people, and they take pride in providing excellent customer service and giving back to the communities where they do business.

“We take exceptionally good care of our customers with loaner car service, pick-up and delivery, and late-night service,” Booth said. “We just go the extra mile to be sure people are taken care of.”

They also get involved and give to local foundations, organizations, schools, libraries and other special projects.

“We try to be involved to be sure our communities stay stable and continue to grow,” Booth said.

Platte Valley Auto also believes in supporting organizations like GROW Nebraska, where the business has been a member for several years.

“GROW helps us continue to promote and grow our business and sends customers our way that we wouldn’t normally see without them,” Booth said. “We are also excited about opportunities to promote GROW Nebraska.”

For more information about Platte Valley Auto, click here. 

Story by Kristine Jacobson, GROW Nebraska member and owner of KRJ Public Relations, a business that helps non-profits and businesses tell their stories and gain momentum through blogs, newsletters, annual reports, social media and other publications.

Hughes Strives to Make Road to Success Easier For Entrepreneurs

Hughes Strives to Make Road to Success Easier For Entrepreneurs

Hughes Strives to Make Road to Success Easier For Entrepreneurs

When Cheryl Hughes began HR Poppin’ Snacks more than 20 years ago, she encountered a steep learning curve. Not only was she learning how to make the best quality popcorn, but she also had to learn all aspects of snack food manufacturing and wholesale.

At about the same time, GROW Nebraska also started with the intent to help educate and promote businesses just like hers. Cheryl joined as one of GROW’s first members.

“There was always a learning experience, good exposure and good advertising,” Cheryl said of GROW. “They have done a great job for me.”

HR Poppin’ Snacks grew into a successful business that now pops more than 20,000 pounds of popcorn seeds annually from its store in Gibbon and sells popcorn in more than 135 flavors in stores around the county.

Cheryl has maintained her GROW membership the entire time, and she continues to give back to GROW through mentoring and giving advice to other members. And her giving doesn’t just stop with members.

Entrepreneurs have traveled to Gibbon from as far away as Brazil, Paris and Nigeria to visit HR Poppin’ Snacks to learn how to produce quality popcorn for their business ventures. Cheryl gladly shares her knowledge with anyone who asks without charging consulting fees.

“If I can help somebody with a leg up, then I do,” she said. “I learned the hard way because I didn’t have someone in the know to mentor me. Now, I have the benefit of the knowledge so I want to share with others to make their road to success a little easier.”

Cheryl and her husband, Gary, are adamant about using their business to help others. That philosophy started with the naming of their business nearly 20 years ago. The HR in the name stands for ‘Heavenly Reason.’

At least 10 percent of their earnings go to charity or someone in need, whether it’s donating popcorn gift baskets to local fundraisers or giving popcorn away to those serving in the military.

“This has happened by the grace of God, and we need to give back,” Cheryl said.

GROW Nebraska CEO Janell Anderson-Ehrke said Cheryl donates all of her mentoring services to pay it forward, which makes a huge difference for many business owners.

“She’s easily touched more than 100 businesses we’ve worked with,” Janell said.

In the early days of GROW, Chery helped set up a retail store in Grand Island and later launched the UPC program to help GROW members sell their products on sites like Amazon. Members who sell just one or two products can save money by buying into GROW’s UPC numbers instead of spending hundreds of dollars to purchase their own UPC number.

When GROW members ask about product labeling, Cheryl is their source for answers.

New GROW Nebraska member Karen Ogelsby, owner of MoKa’s Kitchen, recently relied on help from Cheryl with labeling her popcorn for sale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karen thought her business would be “dead in the water” when COVID-19 hit. Her business previously provided artisan and gourmet popcorn for special events. When the special events stopped, so did her business. Chery helped Karen find a distributor to make her popcorn products available in stores, where shoppers were still flocking to buy snacks during the pandemic. MoKa’s Kitchen popcorn is now in 50 locations across the state.

Janell said she is grateful for members like Cheryl who give back and wants to celebrate her and others.

“I don’t want to forget where we came from,” Janell said. “It’s been GROW and a whole bunch of people and members who just kept giving back.”

Cheryl said she’s always lived with the philosophy that there’s always enough business to go around. She’s not worried about helping her potential competitors.

“If I continue to make a quality product and do my business well, I shouldn’t have any problems,” she said.

Cheryl encourages anyone who is considering starting a business or developing a product to contact GROW Nebraska.

“There are lots of ways that GROW Nebraska can help,” she said.

One of the biggest benefits, Cheryl said, is the annual MarkeTech conference, which she has attended every year it has been offered.

“It’s a great benefit, and any member that I work with I encourage them to attend MarkeTech,” she said. “It’s well-organized, provides good networking opportunities and education. I encourage anyone in the state, even if you aren’t a member of GROW Nebraska, to participate in MarkeTech.”

The 2021 MarkeTech conference is scheduled for Thursday, July 15, in Kearney. For more information, visit To sign up for the GROW newsletter to stay informed on upcoming trainings, visit here.

With holiday popcorn sales just wrapping up, Cheryl said she is preparing to launch new popcorn flavors soon.

Story by Kristine Jacobson, GROW Nebraska member and owner of KRJ Public Relations, a business that specializes in helping non-profits and other businesses tell their stories and gain momentum through blogs, newsletters, annual reports, social media and other publications.

Game and Parks partners with Grow Nebraska for centennial year swag

Game and Parks partners with Grow Nebraska for centennial year swag

Game and Parks partners with Grow Nebraska for centennial year swag

LINCOLN, Neb. — Outdoors fans now can show their Nebraska parks pride with merchandise celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission parks system.

A variety of items, from camper favorites to collectibles, will be available online through Grow Nebraska. Find a direct link to the shop through

“The partnership with Grow Nebraska is a great one, and one that will help get these commemorative products in outdoor enthusiasts’ hands — no matter where they live,” said Margot Desrocher, parks program manager. “This also is a great way to support our amazing Nebraska park system, a system that belongs to the people of the state.”

Proceeds from the sales will go to the parks’ fund for improvement projects, including improved infrastructure, new amenities and added accessibility.

The initial product launch includes high-quality vinyl stickers featuring the Nebraska State Parks centennial logo; iron-on patches; and a special-edition commemorative coin. Coming soon are T-shirts, fanny packs, coffee mugs, water bottles, flying discs, coasters, hats and 12 other collectible coin designs.

“We are grateful to work with Nebraska Game and Parks on offering gift items that celebrate the 100th anniversary of the state park system,” said Janell Anderson-Ehrke, GROW Nebraska Foundation CEO. “This is a very exciting project.”

Additional merchandise is expected to be added throughout the centennial year.

The centennial celebration, themed “Your Memories, Your Adventures, Your Parks,” honors the park system’s legacy while also looking to its bright future. To learn more, visit

Big Idea Kearney Victories Boost Business for Two GROW Members

Big Idea Kearney Victories Boost Business for Two GROW Members

Big Idea Kearney Victories Boost Business for Two GROW Members

Two young Nebraska entrepreneurs each won first place and $1,000 in the 9th Annual Big Idea Kearney contest.

The lure of a school trip to Costa Rica prompted Nicole Mittman to start her business when she was a junior at York High School.

She began painting unique glow-in-the-canvas paintings and sold them to her classmates, teachers and family friends to fund her trip.

Nicole, a self-taught artist, and creates her art using glow powder mixed with Mod Podge™. Her paintings feature glowing moons and stars, inspirational phrases and even pets.

“My favorite thing about making my paintings is the final layer of glow paint over the base acrylic layer — all the hardest work is done, and putting on the finishing touches is just so fun,” she said.

Nicole is now a sophomore at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and is majoring in wildlife biology. Her current customers include other UNK students and staff, but she also sells on an Etsy store, on Instagram (@nicoles_paintings) and now through GROW Nebraska. She has sold more than 200 paintings since she started the business three years ago.

Each fall, UNK hosts Big Idea Kearney, which promotes and supports entrepreneurship throughout central Nebraska. There is a student category and a community category. The first-place winner in each category receives $1,000. Second and third place winners receive $500 and $250. This year, the first-place prize money was sponsored by the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County. Other sponsors included UNK’s College of Business and Technology, Invest Nebraska, Nebraska Enterprise Fund and NUtech Ventures.

Nicole said she entered the contest to expand her audience. This year, 80 people vied for the prize money in the Big Idea competition. Preliminary judges narrowed the list to 16, and those 16 entrepreneurs presented their business ideas to an audience of 150 people. A panel of judges selected the top five in each category, and then the audience voted on the winners.

“I was pretty shocked to win,” Nicole said. “After all, I have no real business background, no training in painting, and my major is unrelated to either of those things. But nevertheless, it’s really exciting to have the money to properly expand now.”

With the $1,000 prize money, Nicole plans to create a website for her art; advertise on Google, Esty, and Facebook; purchase better quality brushes and paint; and buy business cards and have a logo created.

Nicole will be working part-time at the Buy Nebraska store this holiday season to help with shipping and plans to glean help from GROW Nebraska staff about growing her business while she works. 

Stop by the Buy Nebraska Store in Kearney to see Nicole’s paintings!

Kearney resident Jonah Staab won the community division in the Big Idea competition.

Jonah, 22, won with his business, Qualitech, for a grill basket he designed. He came up with the idea after researching trends on Amazon to identify high-demand products that received poor reviews. He then creates a higher-quality version of the product using computer-aided design software.

Jonah’s business ambitions also started in high school. While attending Kearney High, Jonah enrolled in a class called Engineering Design and Development, where he had to create a new product that solved a problem.

That is how he developed new skateboard wheels that roll in all directions. He called the wheels Sydewynder, and that become his first business.

“In 2017, I started learning about e-commerce and selling on Amazon, so I began researching products that I saw were in a good market but had poor designs or other flaws based off of the negative reviews customers left,” Jonah said. “Since I had the CAD software and knew how to design things, I thought why not make my own 3D model of whatever products so I can change the designs and whatever else I need to do to improve it.”

That is how he came up with the grill basket idea. He has sold 1,300 grill baskets on Amazon in the past 11 months.

“It is really rewarding when I go on my Amazon listing to see someone left a 5-star review saying how my product and its unique features is the best on the market and does not have the same flaws as other sellers,” Jonah said. “I just really want to provide good high-quality products that people can enjoy using. I really like it when I hear from customers from around the world say they are happy with their purchase.”

Jonah said he enjoys the challenge of entrepreneurship and enjoys “paving his own path.” He entered the Big Idea contest to network with other entrepreneurs and because he enjoys pitching his ideas and talking about his business.

“I love chasing my dreams and trying ideas I have even if they don’t work out at first,” he said.

Jonah said it felt great to win the Big Idea contest.

“I thought there were some really good ideas,” he said. “I never know what to expect because at the end of the day, the audience votes for the winner, so to hear my name called for first place is crazy.”

Jonah said the prize money has already helped him order samples to start researching a new manufacturer for the grill basket.

“I am also planning on getting some samples of new products made for 2020 and moving forward to production of a second product,” he said.

Jonah is a recent newcomer to GROW Nebraska and is looking forward to the new partnership, which will help him expand to other sales platforms and give him other opportunities to sell products as his business grows.

For more information about Nicole’s Painting, visit her GROW Nebraska profile page at

For more information about Staab Enterprises LLC, visit

GROW Nebraska® Foundation is a statewide non-profit training and marketing organization. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.