Businesses start for many different reasons. Partnerships form for even more reasons. We met originally because our children married each other, and we share 2 beautiful granddaughters.
At that time, Suzy Schutz had a thriving bookkeeping practice and Nancy Barnett was the Director of Training for AAA Colorado.
At the age of 13 Suzy worked in her grandmother’s medical billing practice giving her a foundation that led to working as an employee for a number of small firms as a bookkeeper. At the age of 25 she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In part because of the strain of chronic illness, she found herself a single mom with no reliable income. A neighbor who was a CPA offered her some work as a bookkeeper for his clients. Over the years she built a solid company with high revenue clients and a dream to revolutionize the bookkeeping experience for small business owners.
Suzy wanted to teach others how to do what she did so they would have an opportunity for a career, not just a job.
To accomplish this she partnered with Nancy, because of her background in teaching and program/curriculum development. Nancy had started her career in the corporate arena in adult education, spending 10 years at a large business college in California as teacher, department head and eventually education director. A move to Colorado created an opportunity to work for AAA Colorado. At AAA she developed nationally recognized programs and helped AAA Colorado move employees into new technologies.
Not afraid of a good challenge, we started our first company, ERMA Institute, in the middle of the economic crash of 2008. Together we trademarked SBFO™ (Small Business Financial Officer) and started to develop training.
We soon discovered that, although small businesses owners needed the SBFO service, they did not understand it and either did prospective students. To accomplish this, we made our first pivot and built the model, Apis Business Solutions, to provide SBFO™, managerial accounting and bookkeeping services. By 2011 we were one of the three finalists for Emerging Business of the Year in Denver.
As a marketing strategy, we built our reputation teaching fellow entrepreneurs financial management, business training and consulting through various community and government organizations. In other words, we became the experts.
In the midst of our entrepreneurial journey together, our children divorced, and we learned a very valuable lesson. Business partners who respect each other and share the same values can survive anything.
Through our training and consulting experience, we began to envision a better way to teach business planning and entrepreneurial success.
We wanted a comprehensive program that focused on how to become a strategic business owner by building a financially viable business model rather than simply learning the elements of a business plan.
Nancy began working on what evolved into the initial Plan Forward course and eL3, LLC was formed in 2016. As a curriculum provider, we sold our online course to community agencies that was then used it in conjunction with classroom time.
In 2020 as we both became comfortable teaching and consulting online, we realized we could serve a much larger community and control how it was taught.
As our second pivot, we welcome you to our eL3 Hub.
This program has been tested for five years in a blended learning environment (online education and within class learning). By moving the program to this comprehensive online-only learning experience, we can reach more budding entrepreneurs. Our team has coached and taught entrepreneurship for over ten years. We have interacted with thousands of individuals just like you and learned much from them all.