From Fitness Trainer to Keto-Friendly Baker: UGA SBDC Helps Scale Small Business


Amber Connor was baking keto-friendly sweets out of her house, and she was ready to expand her business, Sinless Sweets. She connected with Rick McMurtrey, area director at the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC) in Augusta, to learn the best way to scale her business. McMurtrey helped her review potential retail locations, evaluate build-out costs, prepare financial projections and organize the financials and management of the business. Since working with the UGA SBDC, Sinless Sweets has moved to a brick-and-mortar location, experienced a 300% increase in sales and added six employees.

Connor, an avid fitness and nutrition enthusiast, was working as a personal trainer in a gym when the pandemic hit. The gym temporarily closed, and Connor needed to channel her energy in another direction.

“Baking was always a stress reliever for me, so I started baking as a way to cope, both professionally and personally,” she said.

As Connor started sharing her baked goods on social media, people reached out to her to place orders. And the orders kept coming. By July 2020, after just a few months of baking, her hobby had turned into a true side business and a solid source of income.


Sinless Sweets offers a special twist on traditional baked goods. Connor takes well-loved breakfast and dessert options and makes them keto-friendly, low carb and sugar free. In addition, she offers gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options.

“I had to decide if I wanted to jump in full force or to return to my gym job,” said Connor. “I felt led to work on the bakery.”

As the orders continued to grow, her kitchen seemed to get smaller and smaller. To gain more space, she partnered with a friend and local restauranteur to share kitchen space and sell her baked goods in the restaurant.

The first step in the transition from home business to restaurant was to obtain the proper licensing, with assistance from the UGA SBDC.

“In her home, she was operating under a cottage license,” said McMurtrey. “In a restaurant setting, she had to obtain licensing under the health department.”

McMurtrey introduced Connor to contacts at the Colombia County Health Department and advised her on what to expect during health inspections and building inspections in general. 

After working in the shared kitchen space for a few months, both restaurant partners quickly realized they needed additional space. Connor decided to find her own. She again sought McMurtrey’s expertise, and he helped her purchase a food truck to launch the stand-alone location of Sinless Sweets.

History repeated itself as Sinless Sweets outgrew the food truck within a year. Connor needed to find a brick-and-mortar location with a commercial kitchen to accommodate the business growth.

She turned to the UGA SBDC for assistance in evaluating retail space options, reading through lease agreements, diving into the finances of the business and preparing financial projections to obtain a business loan for the build-out.  

Connor found an ideal location in Evans, northwest of Augusta, and McMurtrey helped her negotiate a tenant improvement allowance, lowering her rent and allowing her to put those funds towards renovations on the space.

“I didn’t know the first thing about business,” said Connor. “Rick is really the one that helped us find our building, evaluate our lease and really determine what we could afford based on our expenditures.”

With the location set, Connor continues to meet with McMurtrey and tap into the UGA SBDC’s resources to make sure Sinless Sweets is on track.

“Rick has taught me how to focus and stay true to who we are,” said Connor. “Just concentrating on what we specialize in and how to make our product better. Perfecting our craft to grow the business.”

Since working with the UGA SBDC and opening a retail location, Sinless Sweets has grown in staff and revenue. Connor expects to see continued growth at her current location and hopes to add a second store within five years. Connor added a shipping option in 2023 and she plans to continue working with the UGA SBDC on branding to grow the newest portion of her business in 2024.


  • Moved to Brick & Mortar Location
  • 300% Increase in Sales
  • Added 6 employees

"Rick taught me how to focus on my business and how to perfect my craft. He helped us learn how to grow Sinless Sweets into a brand."

For More Information: University of Georgia SBDC | (706) 542-2762