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Supporting Veteran Owned Small Businesses

This video shares examples of a few veteran owned small businesses. Feel free to comment and share your own examples with website link belo...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

3 Top Online Marketing Techniques for Small Businesses

There are a number of ways you can market your small business online … but you need to focus on those that really get results.

Here’s 3 proven online marketing techniques that will definitely get you the kind of results you’re looking for.

1. Be sure you're not only in Google Maps but that you optimize it so your business has the best chance of being found when someone is searching for a business like yours.

Example: You search "Day spa Salt Lake City" and you're an owner of a day spa. You want to be right there on the map and on the listing of sites.

2. Write press releases with optimization for search engines in mind. You have news (new products, events, etc) but you can get more out of it. Specifically you can get more traffic, links, downloads, leads, etc.

Example: You own a company that creates an anti-slip coating for bathtubs. A new study comes out about people getting injured while on vacation. You cite the study and talk about how your coating prevents accidents and is great as a protective measure (literally!).

3. Blog. Don't just blog ….. but blog with plugins and headings that will bring traffic. There are great tools for small businesses. The biggest mistake I see with newbies is they're not linking (to related posts, pages of their site or other content outside of their blog) and the post titles are boring or too generic. Of course, this is bad advice if there isn't someone who will write regularly. If you'd rather not have the commitment, Twitter is a good option because you can still get content out but it's a lot easier to come up with a tweet compared to an entire blog post.

If you’d like to learn more about the details of how to make these 3 techniques work for you …. And many more … I recommend you connect with my friend Janet Theiler at OrangeSoda specializes in small business online marketing. They have trackable phone #s, Google Maps optimization, SEO and paid search solutions.

For some more information on PR marketing … I suggest checking out OnlinePRBook

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why And How To Hire A Graphic Designer For Small Business Owners

Many small businesses make the mistake of attempting to design their own logo and business products in order to save money. Hiring a graphic designer will help present the business in a professional manner, ensure that the job is done correctly based on industry standards, retain and generate new clientele, and actually save the business money in the long run. Here’s an in-depth look at some reasons to hire a professional graphic designer, and what to think about when doing it.

First impressions are everything, and a poorly designed logo and business collateral can reflect poorly on you and your business. A design that is unique and customized for your business can help your business stand out, and give you an edge over your competition. An experienced graphic designer will take their time to listen and understand your business before designing. They will do research on your target market and your competition, and they will want to understand your style and goals for your company. Creative design combined with well-written copy adds a level of professionalism that will elevate your business' image above your competition. Well designed and professionally printed marketing materials will make your business look reliable and showcase expertise in your field.

Design and production of printed materials are a more comprehensive process than many think. Knowledge of color spaces, printing, file formats, and software selection is essential in finding the right fit for your project. Your graphic designer is a visual communications expert that has the skills and tools to design materials that make your business stand out among your competition. They have the industry software to create files in the correct formats for web and print, as well as the expertise and experience to help you make selections that fits your image and budget. A designer usually has established relationships with printers and can get you the best price for your type of project. The graphic designer is the expert so that you don't have to be.

You might already have some idea of what you want, and it is the designer's job to help you organize those ideas and develop them into a concept that is innovative, unique, and representative of your organization. A graphic designer is your objective partner who helps you find ways to best market your image and sell your products or services. A well designed logo or other promotional material can be your ticket to a successful business and give you the results you are looking for.

Ensure that the person or studio you choose is right for your company. Here are a few considerations that can help assure that you are happy with the end results. First, view the designer’s portfolio. A designer should have samples of their previous work available to you either through a website, a book, or some other printed format.

To help the business owner get the end results they are happy with, most designers will provide multiple design options for you to select from and two or three rounds of changes thereafter (keep in mind that multiple rounds of proofs not specified in your original contract may result in additional charges).

Before printing a job, you should be presented with a proof. Look closely for any typographical errors, strange colors, or anything else that seems wrong. Your designer may not know if the address is wrong or if the color of a photograph is incorrect. Once you have approved a proof, the job will be run and any errors that might still exist become your responsibility. To ensure that this costly error doesn't happen to you, look at the proof carefully before signing off on it.

To create a custom identity and branding for your small business, Nina Randone Graphic Design can assist you in your communication challenge. Nina Randone is an award-winning designer with client experiences ranging from national real estate developers and international organizations to start-ups and small businesses. With a degree in Graphic Design and seven years of experience, she utilizes her design and production expertise to develop high-impact design solutions that deliver results. From defining the problem, to concept development, to production and delivery, Nina Randone offers her creativity, commitment, and dedication for a successful, fun, and efficient design process.

For more information go to …….

American Institute Of Graphic Arts

Nina Randone Graphic Design

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Public Relations Strategy For Small Business

Small business owners have to wear lots of hats - operations, purchasing, marketing. With so much to keep track of running their business, promoting and getting the word out about it takes a backseat.

A proactive, locally-focused public relations strategy is important for small businesses to connect with potential customers. Creating and distributing news releases can generate news coverage from local media outlets that helps raise awareness about a business. Publishing those releases online in a format where they can be indexed by search engines and shared to social networks expands reach even more.

Newsmaker, from readMedia, is an affordable service small businesses use to distribute news releases to targeted local reporters and publish them to the Web. Most small businesses can't afford to hire a public relations firm and don't have the time to handle media relations in-house. readMedia's platform takes care of all the time-consuming aspects of local PR.

As a small business owner, all you need to do is come up with great stories to share about your business - events, promotions, industry involvement, new facility openings. Draft a quick release using pre-built templates and readMedia takes care of getting it to the right media outlets and posting it online, including on social networks like Facebook and Twitter where even more potential customers will see it.

The speed of change in media and technology makes public relations today a complex task. readMedia's Newsmaker frees small business owners from having to keep track of it all and instead lets them focus on running their business and creating great stories about it that people will want to share.

For more information go to …..

ReadMedia

Vimeo

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Clash Over HealthCare Reform ….. Battle Over The Character Of America

This ugly fighting over health care is full of guerrilla warfare, ignoring the constitution AND the will of the people, and sleezy back room deals and bribes. So is it a battle over principle ... or just politics?

IMHO it is a matter of both principle and politics. It sounds real good to promise everyone access to health care, and someone else is going to pay for it. It accomodates the entitlement mentality of those who want something as long as everyone else pays for it.

I don't know anyone who has the attitude of "I've got mine so screw you" but it is a convenient slogan for those who like trite slogans such as "tax cuts for the rich" when tax rates were lowered for everyone and revenues increased, or "Bush lied and people died" to cover for those who were for the war until they were against it. The promise of health care for all sounds good, but a government wrought with corruption and inefficiency is hardly the source I would trust to oversee affordable health care.

Absolutely this is a battle of principal. This is the statists who want the federal government to control decisions of health care, including it's finance, versus free market capitalists who want those decisions left to the doctor and the patient, and if necessary a financial intermediary such as an insurance company.

This boils down to whether or not you respect the constitution. The US constitution does not empower the federal government to be the insurance agent for it's citizens. Similarly, it does not empower the federal government to compel private citizens to buy any specific product, such as insurance. Further, in nationalizing health care and in making it a de facto "right", we have created a "right" which is the work product of other citizens. That has the effect of enslaving them. To our shame, we tolerated slavery in this country for a short 80 years. Then we fought a bloody war to undo that tragedy. We amended the constitution twice to disallow similar attempts to enslave citizens. And now we are contemplating making the work of a specific subset of Americans the right of all Americans. It's unconscionable and immoral.

So yes, a thousand times yes. This is a battle for the character of America. Are we statists or are we individualists, proud of our freedom?

Louisiana Purchase. Cornhusker Kickback. Florida Deal. Reconciliation. Arm Twisting. Slaughter Rule. If the supporters of this legislation had a principled position, why would they need to bully, buy, and browbeat their own coalition while simultaneously mocking those who don't agree with them as "tea-baggers"? If they had a principled position, wouldn't they simply be able to use facts, reason, and logic to persuade the rest of us?

Oh wait .... they can't.

So THAT'S why we're in this mess.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Should It Be Health Care Reform …. Or Health System Reform

The issue of health care reform has little to do with the incendiary issues of partisan politics or rights of access, but instead should be squarely focused on creating an effective, properly managed program.

In other words applying some common damn business sense .... like small business folks do EVERY day!!!!

What do you think?

IMHO ….. placing the emphasis on access is a classic example of putting the cart before the horse.

The primary barrier to access is cost. Address the cost question and the access question becomes academic. If it is affordable, it becomes by definition accessible.

And, if it is affordable, it can be extended to those without the means to pay for it at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer.

The system is clearly broken. The current efforts at reform place far more emphasis on treating the symptoms rather than on the real problems - waste, inefficiency, corruption, ineptitude, and a firmly entrenched health care establishment that benefits from maintaining the status quo.

That would suggest the need for "an effective, well managed program".

The question becomes, who would create it and who would manage it?

From what we've seen so far, expecting Washington to do it would be somewhat unrealistic and expecting the health care industry as a whole to reform and restructure itself without outside intervention would seem to be equally unrealistic.

The engine that drives change in the health care system or any other system is ultimately the people who pay the bills - the employers who currently pay for the insurance along with the individuals who consume the services, pay all or part of their own health care costs, and/or pay the taxes that subsidize the delivery of the services to those who cannot afford them.

There is growing evidence that the engine is beginning to rev up. Interesting things are beginning to happen, not quickly enough to be satisfying enough to anyone but the snowball is definitely beginning to roll down the hill.

It would be reasonable to assume that the health care system will undergo a dramatic transformation during the next decade as those who pay the bills become more sophisticated, cost-conscious, demanding consumers who turn to suppliers who will supply the right products and services at the right prices - and that the changes that take place won't be the result of any government program or epiphany within the health care establishment.

Thus, the most effective "program" might be private initiatives that focus on consumer education and provided incentives that would encourage the development of innovative, cost-effective health care delivery systems.

The message to the health care establishment would be - wake up guys, you're pricing yourselves out of the market!!!!!!!!

Here's an out of the box V8 moment for you ..... we should focus on applying lean methodology to improve the quality of care while reducing waste and excessive costs. Too many preventable errors occur in most hospitals and the health care system in general. And I’ve heard doctors candidly admit that (depending on the doctor) anywhere from 30% to 50% of their activities have nothing to do with the delivery of care. Attacking the sources of such waste will improve health care delivery, lower costs, and thus make care more affordable.

A number of hospitals, academic medical centers, primary care clinics, dental practices, and other health care facilities are adopting the lean techniques developed in industry to improve the delivery of care while lowering costs. BTW, lean is more than a set of tools for improving quality. It’s a management system that works any place work is done, where managers and employees are trying to solve problem, places like health care.

There are examples here: Health Care Value Leaders

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Small Business Resource - ActionCoach

Another great resource for small business owners offers some free and many paid services. ActionCOACH Business Coaching is in many countries around the world, and as a franchise organization, they are run locally by small business owners as well. My friend Craig Hohnberger owns a franchise and wishes he had access to this information in his corporate career turning around and integrating acquisitions.

Their franchise.owners teach a powerful system of 6 stages that every business must master to be successful long-term; the first 2 stages are critical just to stay in business, while the rest are what help the owner truly thrive in business. They are completely customized to the individual client's business .... and the services are very ROI driven with a strong focus on bottom-line results.

Right now the founder who is a phenomenal speaker is doing a FREE 83 city tour teaching covering some of the key concepts. If you're interested you can sign up at Business Is Booming Tour.

This is completely free with absolutely no obligation .... and the information will be incredibly practical and easy to implement.

In addition most local franchise owners offer some free services as well to allow business owners to taste the programs before buying. Go to their main site to find out about other services .... or to find one of the local franchise owners.

Action Coach

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Small Business Forming A Corporation

Many small business people form a corporation and think “that is it”; now I can enjoy the asset protection, tax savings and benefits a corporation provides. But without proper corporate formalities…. you are risking your corporation's protection, the asset protection and tax savings provided by a properly maintained corporate structure.

The frightening truth is, every one of the many benefits you get from owning a corporation could disappear if you are not documenting your actions.

It comes down to your corporate records. If they are not up-to-date, in order and squeaky clean, you will lose your corporate status and then all your personal assets will be at risk.

Isn’t it time you bought yourself a little insurance?

The Compass Group Corporate Compliance Programs provide the tools you need to keep your corporation current and up-to-date.

For more information go to ……

Compass Incorporated

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Small Business Resource - Credit Management

One resource that businesses need to start looking into, especially in this economy, is credit management.

Many business owners write a business plan and a marketing plan ..... but don't have a credit plan or credit policy & procedures. This causes them to take unfortunate credit risks and end up with customers who owe them money, aren't clear on payment terms, or aren't credit worthy.

My friend Michelle Dunn writes about this topic on her blog. Michelle's blog Credit and Collections is loaded with information to help a business limit their credit risk ..... while setting up realistic procedures that they can follow to successfully have good paying customers and limit bad debt.

Michelle also offers a free e-book - "A Collection Guide for Business Owners" that can also help. Well worth your time to read .... and definitely put to use.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tips On Business Networking Meetings

The following contribution is from my friend Dawn Boyer

If a small business owner, entrepreneur, or business developer is seeking the best venues to find others who are in the same boat, and/or interested in meeting each other for referrals, references, and business interaction, they should try business networking meetings.

There are several 'free' venues, other than the Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn social networks and my favorite is MeetUp.com

On MeetUp.com you can enter your zip code, click a button for the number of miles you are willing to travel to meet others with similar interests, and then find all the current groups that already exist or folks who have the same interest.

These groups usually have regularly scheduled meetings, at local meeting sites (restaurants, hotels, libraries, university/colleges, etc.) where the group can meet, exchange introductions, and then network or learn new information about the chosen topic matter designated for that meeting.

I joined several groups in the Va. Beach (Hampton Roads, VA) area since last April of 2009, and in six months had gathered and met over 500 new acquaintances and like-minded business owners, entrepreneurs, or network marketing representatives, several of which have developed into some fantastic new friends.

I've opened my own group now in MeetUp.com for those business folks who want to solve problems, discuss ideas, and network their businesses in my geographic area, while I'm also pushing and doing PR for another group of which I'm a member. The camaraderie is incredible, and the fun is non-stop.

I've also decided to put up my own shingle for Human Resources Consulting in my geographic area because it's my background and I have so much to offer others with my vast experience.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Life Coach For Small Business Owners

Jaclyn Beckerman is a life coach and interested in speaking with people who are open to a powerful conversation about what they're up to and what's next for them in life.

Jaclyn works with people who are up to big things in their life ..... and are interested in getting supported around them. If you don't know a lot about coaching have a look at her website for more information -

JNB Coaching

Essentially Jaclyn helps people get out of their own way and get into action to create the life of their dreams. Past clients have consistently reported breakthroughs in the areas of money, time, passion, intimacy, and boldness. They've created things such as joy and fun within a previously stagnant career, doubling their income, the job they'd once only dreamed they could possibly have, significantly more satisfying and loving personal relationships, learning how to get their needs met and their ideal balance between work and personal life.

Jaclyn offers a complimentary sample session which is generally about 60 minutes over the phone where you get to talk about you and what's actually going on in your life. If you'd be interested in taking that on please contact here at jaclyn@jnbcoaching.com or 646-719-1896 to set up your appointment.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The State Of Customer Service

This is sarcastic description of an all too typical customer service call by what could be one of YOUR customers. Hopefully your small business doesn't treat customers this way. Do you??

"Thank you for calling .... Customers are Scumbags, our single human is off having a coffee at the moment but your call is important to us.

Please listen to the following menu carefully as number options have changed.

Press one to be given five options none of which meet your requirements.

Press two for a permanent ringing tone.

Press three for the voicemail of the guy that left last week

Press four to have your life placed on hold whilst listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Press five in order to hear your account balance including charges for our shoddy service levels.

Press six for a one in five chance of speaking to someone that knows half of what's needed and will therefore transfer you to the main switchboard number that you just dialed.

Press seven to hear our Chairman's Message of shareholder gains at your expense.

Press eight to be disconnected for absolutely no reason .

Press nine out of sheer and total desperation if you want to.

Press # to replay this menu!"

ARRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHH!