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Five Ways To Find Trustworthy Local Vendors As A Business Owner

Five Ways To Find Trustworthy Local Vendors As A Business Owner

No entrepreneur is an island — every day, business owners rely on the help of suppliers, accountants, attorneys, marketers and other service providers to keep their operations running smoothly.

Working with local vendors, as opposed to low-rate overseas freelancers, strengthens the LA small business community and its overall economy. However, it’s not always easy to find someone who not only understands your business, but also offers trustworthy, reliable service. We asked a panel of Forbes Los Angeles Business Council members to share their best advice for fellow LA business owners seeking trusted vendors. Here’s what they had to say.

Members share how they find reliable vendors.

1. Look For Well-Known Past Clients

I would advise any business owner looking for a local vendor they can trust to simply do their research. Begin by conducting a Google search for firms that have done work for major businesses in the past. An example would be noticing if a law firm has worked with brands such as Facebook or Snapchat in the past. Once you confirm that, you then get enough credibility to move forward with them. – Toyosi Azeez, Swiftdine

2. Check Online Review Sites Like Yelp

Look the vendor up on Yelp. There is nothing more trustworthy than a compilation of hundreds of unbiased reviews. – Anna Nguyenova , TubeScience

3. Ask For Referrals

Every company is going to present a sales pitch either in person or their website about why they are the best. Therefore, my advice is to always go off of referrals. Once you collect referrals from the people you know and trust, then really do your own due diligence and make some phone calls to find out what it’s really like to work with them. – Skyler DitchfieldGeoLinks

4. Attend Conferences And Join Digital Communities

I’ve attended conference events and made good use of digital resources. I’ve met people who became trusted partners who do work I don’t do, such as build and manage websites and connect to the podcasting community. I’ve used LinkedIn to find my bookkeeper and I’ve used Reddit to find my first full-time employee. Facebook groups are also good resources. – Robert BrillBrill Media Company

5. Take Time To Develop Strong Relationships

Trust with a vendor is built through communication and time — this is how you see if a vendor is reliable, has good communication skills, is a good problem-solver and is consistent. Though reputation goes a long way, time is really key here. The joy of local vendors is that they are people and can become part of your extended family and stay the course with you through thick and thin. – Jennifer Piette, Out of the Box Collective

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GeoLinks’ CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, Accepted into Forbes Los Angeles Business Council

GeoLinks’ CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, Accepted into Forbes Los Angeles Business Council

Forbes Los Angeles Business Council Is an Invitation-Only Community for Small Business Owners in Greater Los Angeles

 

Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO of GeoLinks—California’s fastest growing telecom nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions, has been accepted into the Forbes Los Angeles Business Council, the foremost growth and networking organization for small business owners in Greater Los Angeles.

Ditchfield joins other Forbes Los Angeles Business Council members, who are hand-selected, to become part of a curated network of successful peers and get access to a variety of exclusive benefits and resources, including the opportunity to submit thought leadership articles and short tips on industry-related topics for publishing on Forbes.com.

“I am thrilled to join Forbes’ esteemed group of industry thought-leaders and disrupters,” said Ditchfield. “GeoLinks was founded in 2011 out of my weight room in rural Ojai, California. Over the past seven years, we’ve aggressively climbed our way to become California’s fastest growing telecom, and the fastest growing WISP in America. Our accelerated success is largely due to our flagship product ClearFiber™ which was recently named ‘Most Disruptive Technology’ in the Central Coast Innovation Awards. Accolades aside, my team and I are passionate about closing the United States’ digital divide. I’m personally determined to bring connectivity to every unconnected Anchor Institution in America over the next 7 years. By joining the Forbes Council, I hope to educate council members and Forbes’ readership not only about the telecom industry as a whole, but about the current state of broadband availability and policy across the United States.”

Forbes Councils combines an innovative, high-touch approach to community management perfected by the team behind Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) with the extensive resources and global reach of Forbes. As a result, Forbes Council members get access to the people, benefits and expertise they need to grow their businesses — and a dedicated member concierge who acts as an extension of their own team, providing personalized one-on-one support.

Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, says, “We are honored to welcome Skyler Ditchfield into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world.”

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Lexie Olson at lolson(at)geolinks.com.

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About Forbes Councils
Forbes partnered with the founders of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to launch Forbes Councils, invitation-only communities for world-class business professionals in a variety of industries. Members, who are hand-selected by each Council’s community team, receive personalized introductions to each other based on their specific needs and gain access to a wide range of business benefits and services, including best-in-class concierge teams, personalized connections, peer-to-peer learning, a business services marketplace, and the opportunity to share thought leadership content on Forbes.com. For more information about Forbes Los Angeles Business Council, visit forbeslacouncil.com. To learn more about Forbes Councils, visit forbescouncils.com.

About GeoLinks
Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions. Ranked No. 5 by category on Inc. Magazine’s 2017 Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Hosted Voice, SD-WAN, Cloud On-ramping, Layer 2 Transport, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

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50 Fastest Growing Private Companies 2017: Geolinks Building Broadband Access for Rural America

50 Fastest Growing Private Companies 2017: Geolinks Building Broadband Access for Rural America

Original article by Helen Floersh

No. 2: GEOLINKS
Camarillo

CEO: Skyler Ditchfield

Growth Rate: 335%

It has been a big year for GeoLinks, the No. 2 firm on the Business Journal’s 2017 list of the Valley area’s Fastest Growing Private Companies.

Besides updating its moniker to reflect its long-term ambitions – the business-to-business internet service provider changed its name in June from California Internet to GeoLinks, which it described as being better aligned with its goal of expanding its services nationwide – the company also settled into its new, 38,000 square-foot Camarillo headquarters and hired its 50th employee. Finally, GeoLinks made the 2017 Inc. 5000, ranking No. 5 in the telecommunications category and coming in No. 604 overall.

“For a lot of people, what sets us apart is how we’re different from the big guys,” Ryan Adams, GeoLinks president, said. “We decided that we’re going to do what we thought was in the best interest of our clients, first and foremost.”

So far, that mindset appears to be working. Geolinks has managed to more than double its revenue year over year since 2014, when it saw $2.2 million in revenue. It generated $8.8 million last year, according to the firm, and is on track to outperform itself yet again in 2017.

“Telecommunications doesn’t necessarily have to be an ugly word,” Adams said. “For us, it’s really about enhancing the customer experience and evolving with our clients as well. That’s where the big guys have a hard time.”

GeoLinks envisions itself as one day being the premiere provider of high-speed internet to rural communities throughout California and beyond. While just 10 percent of all U.S. citizens lacked access to high-speed internet in 2016, the figure climbed to roughly 40 percent for those living in rural areas, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

“It’s not just a buzz-term that we use, it’s our passion: Bridging the digital divide, which means bringing high-speed internet to everybody no matter what geography,” Adams said. “Studies have shown that people who have access to high-speed internet are more inclined to make more money and better education. These things are very important to us.”

Rural boom

New state legislation that establishes funds for the deployment of broadband projects in rural areas puts GeoLinks on track to expand its California business substantially. Chief Executive Skyler Ditchfield, who founded GeoLinks in 2011 with his cousin and Chief Techonology Officer Ryan Hauf, was one of the lobbyists behind the September passage of AB1665, or the “Internet for All Act.” Ditchfield has been working with the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives and other organizations to establish contracts with public institutions.

The company was awarded more construction grants than any other internet service provider for California public schools and libraries for 2016 and 2017. Earlier this year, it received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the California Public Utilities Commission, enabling it to form strategic partnerships with federal agencies such the Department of Education.

“Right now we’re working with all different types of organizations – private and public – to spread the GeoLinks name,” Adams said.

GeoLinks’ rapid growth is linked to three components, Adams added: an exceptional primary product, strong customer relations and a knack for recruiting and retaining top talent. From land procurement to equipment installation, GeoLinks performs every step of the process behind setting up a broadband network in-house, affording finer control over timetables as well as its relationships with clients. The company is able to send workers to sites more quickly than companies that contract with third-party suppliers for equipment-related services.

“People are used to a certain kind of relationship with their internet or telecommunications provider,” Adams said. “Whatever the big guys were doing, we were going to do the exact opposite, starting with our speed of deployment.”

To catch and keep exceptional employees who are fully invested in the company’s progress, GeoLinks has outfitted its headquarters with Silicon Valley-style amenities, such as an in-house gym, basketball court and full-service kitchen. Workers also have access to a personal chef and a wellness expert, he added.

“There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not absolutely delighted with the workforce we have here at GeoLinks,” he said. “We are all about not only the client experience, but also the employee experience.”

But material benefits are only one part of the firm’s strategy for building a standout team. GeoLinks’ managers take a “hands off” approach to employee oversight, minimizing micromanagement so that workers have the intellectual freedom to come up with new ideas that can move the company forward, Adams explained.

“We went out of our way to make sure this is a company that creates a culture of respect, without the ego,” Adams said. “We want all of our employees to feel like they have just as much of a stake in the company as anybody else.”

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