Editor’s note: To mark National Small Business Week, NEWS On the Green is publishing this piece from the Mansmann Foundation. The foundation offers a once-a-month session at the Shenango Valley Chamber Commerce in Sharon, which is open to Brookfield/Masury businesses. The foundation offers practical insight and suggestions on growing a business, making it more efficient and planning for the future. NEWS On the Green participates in the Sharon sessions. 


“I joined the Sharon Mansmann Foundation group, because I needed help,” said Bill Dodd, founder of Mud-Hut Studios – a media production company that offers a variety of services ranging from audio and visual recording, to animation and online content management.

Earning his degree in marketing from Penn State University, Bill kickstarted his career at IBM. After eight years of soaring through the ranks, he wanted a break. Bill opted for a change of pace and scenery by joining the Peace Corps, where he served in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 2 years. This experience inspired the name of his small business.

With Mud-Hut, Bill has worked out of his home for 25 years. Initially, it functioned as a recording studio; then he expanded to video, and later began providing digital content discovery, production and management. He also takes care of his clients’ online presence.

“To me, this seemed to be a logistically perfect endgame. All of my experiences – both personally, and professionally – appeared to be preparing me for this particular career direction. I was right, but something felt wrong.”

Bill sensed something in his work life was amiss. That’s when he decided to join a Mansmann small business mentoring group – a team of local business owners who meet monthly to collaborate on improving each other’s businesses. At the first meeting, one of his peers suggested he find a co-working space and try working offsite.

“Quite frankly, I thought nothing of this recommendation – my home studio is perfect; I have everything I need at my fingertips. So, I decided to drive to a co-working space several miles away, just to prove the silliness of the concept. But, to my surprise, I accomplished more in an hour-and-a-half at that co-working space than I had the entire previous day at my home studio.”

Bill says he no longer discounts suggestions from the rest of the group; he now finds that listening to other small business owners’ experiences, mentally placing himself in their shoes, and brainstorming solutions to their problems actually allows him to learn for his own company’s benefit.