Skip to content

Elevate Stories

Elevate Hennepin helps Balloon Fancy 'blow up'

Erin Aarestad founder of Balloon Fancy

Elevate Hennepin helps Balloon Fancy 'blow up'

With encouragement and assistance from Elevate HennepinSM advisors, she made the leap to building the Brooklyn Park-based business Balloon Fancy into a full-time profession and is now shopping for a brick-and-mortar location.

She first learned about Elevate Hennepin from Hennepin County Business Navigator Tashie George at a Brooklyn Park business owner forum. It was something she was reluctant to attend—she had plenty to do between her full-time job, her balloon-art side hustle, and a family.

“I’m so incredibly happy that I went. Tashie was there and shared about Elevate. I thought, ‘Oh, what a resource for someone like me who needs some help,’” said Aarestad. “Hennepin County offering that for free? It just couldn’t get any better.”

As she built her business, she was looking for best practices and guidance. She searched online and went to seminars, but said she was overwhelmed with conflicting information and speakers that didn’t seem to care.

“In other experiences I've had, someone would get up and speak about business or give advice. And then when you went to them, it almost felt like you were bothering them,” said Aarestad. “Like I was being needy or inconvenient to them. Instead, Tashie had this attitude of, ‘I'm excited you're here. I have all the people you need. And let's do this.’”

Starting with the big picture

Her first stop with Elevate was working with Tammy Dahlvang, of Women Venture. She was eager and efficient and helped her with a robust strategic plan for her business, Aarestad said.

“I thought I was maybe going to be the one driving the ship, but instead she was ready with a plan, and she was so quick to understand what my needs were from our first meeting. She said, ‘Here are the steps we need to take to get there. Here's what I need you to do when we hang up the phone and here's what we're going to do at your next meeting.’ I mean, you can't have someone lay it out any cleaner,” Aarestad said.

That first meeting helped her get out of a reactionary mindset of handling the day-to-day challenges, and instead working toward specific goals.

“I feel like now I'm set up in a way that I can prevent ‘fires’ from happening,” said Aarestad. “Without this, I would have spent this year continuing to put out the fires.”

Digging into the details

It’s been a collaborative effort among Elevate advisors. Because business owners can get up to 25 hours of support from each advisor, it’s common for business owners to tap into multiple resources.

After Dahlvang helped her with the strategy, she guided Aarestad to Kathy Pyle, owner and principal consultant at Clear Talk Accounting—an enthusiastic wrangler of accounting.

“Kathy has helped me streamline my finances without overcomplicating things,” said Aarestad. “She took what I had from last year and instead of saying, ‘We need to re-do everything,’ said, ‘We're going work off what you already have.’”

Now, she’s working with her third advisor, Davis Law Office, on contracting and getting some legal insights around leasing as she explores opening her brick-and-mortar location. She said the potential to jump from advisor to advisor is “mind blowing.”

“Even if it wasn’t free, these resources, to be connected with people who have the answers is incredible,” said Aarestad. “For people like me, it’s just overwhelming to find the right people who have your interest at heart.”

If you’re a business owner looking to take on some challenges in your business, explore Elevate HennepinSM resources today. 

Show all resources

Get connected to professional resources, tools, and guidance from business experts.

Schedule a consultation

Meet one-on-one with a Business Navigator to assess your best next step.

Real businesses, real stories.

Jeffrey Scott founder of ME & I Fitness

CEO Now helps gym owner pivot to better serve his community

When a new commercial building went up, Jeffrey Scott opened a gym. then reality of running a small business hit. 
Poh Lin Khoo founder of Khoo Consulting and Elevate Hennepin business advisor

Three brand building blocks from Elevate advisor Poh Lin Khoo

Elevate Hennepin advisor Poh Lin Khoo has tips to build a solid brand foundation.