One local business is breaking the mold not just because they are the only SE Minnesota business recognized for 1 of 12 SBA awards they have claimed the title for Women-Owned Small Business of the Year. They were nominated by our local 504 Corporation that offers small business loans to businesses.

Karen Schaar, co-owner of Roca Climbing and Fitness Inc. in Rochester opened their doors in December of 2015 but the planning started back in 2010 to build "Minnesota's best indoor rock climbing gym", and that she did. When she received the announcement last week, it caught her by surprise.  "It's a very big honor. I'm excited, proud, and humbled," she said. With 15,000 square feet of indoor rock terrain they certainly know the meaning of uphill battle.

I caught up with Karen to find out how she got her start and what advice she would share with other women interested in starting their own businesses. She said their biggest obstacle was finding someone to believe in their dream and fund the project. "Once we met some people at Home Federal here in Rochester, they were completely onboard and very excited about our project.  We worked with the 504 Corporation here in town as well and they understood our ideas and project as well." Funding is a common problem for women starting their own business.

Despite the challenges, over the last 10 years the number of women-owned businesses increased by 114%, compared to a 44% increase among all businesses — a growth rate more than 2.5 times the national average, according to the State of Women Owned Businesses Report.

So what's the secret sauce?  "My advice would be to take the time to do a well thought-out business plan.  Seek the advice from other small business owners, talk with the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), use our communities great resources, and keep trying, even if you get 10 people saying “no, sorry”.   We had to knock on many doors and face many obstacles to making our business happen.  But we were determined and didn’t want to give up." We're so glad they didn't because this place is an awesome place to have an adventure!

Co-owning a business with a spouse would certainly be an added challenge but Karen says her and her husband Jeremy share the same passion and dreams and its what they both want. Kudos to them! Take yourself on your own adventure and check out their Clip & Go Passes for a day.