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Small Business Success Summit

If you're a small business owner, join us for a summit created just for you. Attend presentations by keynotes from industry leaders that will inform and inspire, participate in workshops with fellow business owners in Greater Des Moines (DSM) and engage in in-depth conversations at various breakout sessions.

2022 Small Business Success Summit

Thank you, attendees and sponsors, for another great year of The Summit! Information about this year's presenters and topics can be found below.

Media Sponsor


Gold Sponsors

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Silver Sponsors

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Bronze Sponsors

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Fuse DSM  |  KHI Solutions  |  Mediacom  |  NAWBO  |  Nobious  |  SBA

Speaker and Session Descriptions


Nick Sarillo

A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business  |  Nick Sarillo

"Show me why I should work here!" Does this sound or seem familiar? This train of thought has been accelerated by the pandemic, and more and more people are not just searching, they are demanding more from their employers... and it's not just about salary. Join Nick Sarillo, author of "A Slice of the Pie," and Founder of Nick’s Pizza and Pub as he shares his success secrets to turning any small business into a successful, high-performance organization. One where employees love to come to work, and it shows. Nick’s restaurant company is one of the busiest independent pizza companies in the full-service restaurant space in the U.S. In an industry where the profit margin averages more than 150%, Nick’s was less than 25% for the last 18 years, which is incredible. Nick will share real life examples from his experience detailing how you can create the type of company culture you’ve always wanted to work for. Nick also provides tangible tools that you can begin implementing in your business immediately!

Breakout Session 1


Key Performance Indicators, Benchmarking and Strategic Growth Strategies  |  Jenni Huotari of Eide Bailly LLP

The decisions you make now play a key role in your business's growth over time, which is why it is critical for you to have the right tools to help make informed business decisions. If you struggle to understand your books and the numbers side of your business, it will be difficult for you to grow. The Eide Bailly team helps clients with the numbers and strategize growth through financial modeling, benchmarking and identifying KPIs.


Motivating Staff and Contractors Post-COVID (Pre-recorded)  |  Lisa Even of Even Connection Leadership

More than ever before, it is difficult to motivate staff and contractors. This weak point can cause leaders to stress about company culture or watch good employees switch organizations.

During this session, learn about ways to motivate staff and contractors in the post-COVID world, and how to shift your perspective and techniques. Lisa Even will provide participants with valuable tips and tricks on how to maximize your time, energy, and efforts in order for them to create a high-level engagement strategy for 2022.


Know Your Audience to Increase Sales  |  Mackenzie Ryan Walters of StoryStruck Marketing

Businesses grow by listening to their customers, understanding who they are, what they want and their motivations, and then marketing to their unique interests. If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re doing something wrong. Former national award-winning journalist, Mackenzie Ryan Walters will share inspiring examples of ways businesses are relating to their customers.  Ryan Walters will walk participants through how marketing to different types of customers can help you win new and repeat business.


"I'll Do It Later": Why We Procrastinate and What to Do About It  |  Lori Vande Krol of Life Made Simple LLC

Studies show that 88% of workers procrastinate at least one hour each day and 20% of individuals identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. Long-term procrastination can result in poorer performance and affect physical and mental health. In this seminar, participants will learn the most common reasons for procrastination and what you can do to impact your own habits. Take part in a hands-on exercise to better understand your behaviors and define specific steps to take to tackle procrastination, reach your goals and lower your stress.


Dima Ghawi

Thriving Beyond Turbulent Times  |  Dima Ghawi

Dima takes the audience on a journey towards locating a sense of identity and purpose, both personally and professionally, by using powerful, personal narratives that center on topics of entrepreneurship and empowerment. She shares tips for business owners to help them elevate their morale and discusses messages of self-reflection, differentiation and leadership. Audience members will leave inspired to transform their visions from ordinary to legendary.

Breakout Session 2



Work Smarter, Not Harder: Strategies for Assessing Operational Efficiencies and Better Leveraging Technology Within Your Business Operations  |  Jocie Dye of Principal and Mark W. Steffen of CliftonLarsonAllen

Whether you are cautiously optimistic, planning for sensible growth or trying to capitalize on opportunities, assessing your operations can help define your competitive advantage and set your course for the future. You need the most effective operational structure to accommodate future growth. A Business Opportunity Assessment (BOA) is a way to identify opportunities for organizational improvement, elevate productivity, reduce costs, provide recommendations around automating manual processes, and accommodate future growth. In this session,  CliftonLarsonAllen professionals will help you understand your goals and strategy and help you focus on operational efficiencies that utilize best practices, reduce risk, strengthen internal controls and leverage technology with an eye towards digital transformation.


Recruiting with Efficiency: Tools and Tricks to Help You Build a Great Team  |  Laura Merz of Koester Construction

Every business owner needs a team they can count on, but finding the right people for the job has never been more challenging.

In this session, Laura Merz from Koester Construction will teach business leaders how to develop an in-house recruiting process that saves you time, money and most importantly, helps you find great employees that fit the culture and core values of your business. Walk away with the tools you need to attract talent, manage your candidates, ask better interview questions and build a great team.


How to Build Social Proof in Your Local Market  |  Emily Steele of Love Local

Trust is one of the top reasons customers choose to engage with a local business. It’s also the reason why so many businesses are feeling frustrated over social posts that don’t land or launches that elicit crickets. The truth is, these businesses haven’t built enough trust. According to a 2020 Edelman Study, trust is the second most important factor in the decision to buy a new brand right behind price and affordability. In this session, participants will learn more about the unparalleled power of social proof and how to encourage current customers to share their stories of your brand.


How to Juggle Work-Personal Life  |  Erin E. Huiatt of Des Moines Parent

2020 brought on several challenges for business owners and professionals. We quickly took our work and lives all online and had to learn how to juggle at home life in the middle of a work day, and for many, that battle included having kids at home with them, leading them to view their work and home life in a completely different way.

Many of us are back at work in-person, but many of the things learned during the pandemic have set us up to be better business owners and professionals who can balance our at-home and work life. Erin E. Huiatt from Des Moines Parent will share some helpful tips to help others navigate this balance through organization, boundary setting and more.

Breakout Session 3


Legal Implications for a New or Existing Remote Workforce  |  Dani Smid of BrownWinick Law Firm

This session will cover legal considerations for a remote work environment, as well as best practices, policies and guidelines for a new or existing remote workforce in order help employers to successfully manage a remote workforce, maintain legal compliance and avoid lawsuits. Topics will span a variety of different subject areas including: human resources, employee management and monitoring, data security, trade secrets, and company property management. Participants will learn more about the pros and cons of a remote workforce, telecommuting policies/expectations/considerations/implementation, communication strategies, employee data, privacy, and monitoring and the legal considerations of the remote environment, now and in the future.



Leading Your Team Toward Healthy Diversity  |  Leisa Fox and Clarence Hudson of Fox Growth Strategies

It is important for business leaders to understand how to develop a healthy, diverse culture within their company. This session will cover five practical steps to building a productive culture including: Understanding important inclusive terminology, understanding the American Human Rights Timeline, asking the right questions, keeping your eye on the prize and avoiding any possible land mines.


Eliminating Elevator Wit: Reinventing Your Elevator Pitch  |  Erik J. Dominguez of Speak Up Stories

You have heard of an elevator pitch. But have you heard of elevator wit?  Elevator wit is the term for when we think of the exactly right thing to say to someone...moments after the conversation has ended. The global pandemic has transformed the workplace and many professionals are struggling to communicate their work and mission in this world. This interactive session teaches participants strategies that will help them create a confident and powerful elevator pitch to communicate their professional purpose while also minimizing the regret and remorse of elevator wit.




There's a Leader in Every Seat: Creating a Coaching Culture One Conversation at a Time  |  Michelle Rembert, Melissa Worrel-Johnson and Ann Wright of Your Leadership Group

The way you communicate matters in the workplace. Communication is one of the top reasons people and organizations struggle. This session will help all leaders, individuals and organizations implement a coach approach with communication and learn how active listening and asking powerful questions can drive stronger results and ROI.

Breakout Session 4


Business Continuity Planning: Easier Than You Think  |  Ben Davis of Nationwide

The past two years have caused many small business operators to realize there are a lot of factors in the market beyond their control that can adversely impact their company.  How do you make sense of it all?   

The Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for Small Business breakout session will provide clarity by defining some of the key terms, and helping you better understand what your organization already has in place and what you may need to consider, such as operation disruptions and how to evaluate a BCP.


The Building Blocks To a Strong Culture  |  Zach Dobeck of Kinship Brewing Company

For owners Ann and Zach Dobeck, the decision to set a foundation of hospitality, family and philanthropy for their first-time brewery came rather naturally. The pair will share the highs and lows of their process, how key stakeholders have helped them polish what they were looking for, how they selected lead staff, what steps their leadership team has taken to reinforce and grow their model as well as how the growth among all staff members has created a successful and positive working environment.


Good is the Enemy of Remarkable  |  Keirstin Heitman of Poppi Branding Co.

When it comes to branding, you can either be a good brand or a remarkable brand, but you cannot be both. Leveraging her own experiences and observations, Keirstin will discuss how chasing and achieving “good” prevents you from standing out. Participants will view examples of remarkable brands' habits and strategies and learn how to identify which type of brand you have. It’s time to uncover what makes you and your business unlike anyone else.





Make Your Blue Sky Ideas a Reality: Transition Your Work from IN the Business to ON the Business for Strategic Growth  |  Jacki Boldt of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Darci Evans of Burn Boot Camp, Geoff Wood of Gravitate Coworking and Brett Vowles of Optimum Chiropractic

A panel of Iowa small business owners who have seen an immense amount of growth in the past three years will share their stories and how they were able to move from ‘blue sky’ ideas to action and implementation. Each business owner will discuss their story of growth with tips and techniques on the following:

  • Evaluation of growth opportunities
  • Preparation for growth and forecasting for strategic decision making
  • Transitioning from tactical work in the business to strategic work on the business